Some days I can write and some days I jrst cnt.
The same goes for photography; sometimes I know it will work on the first shot, and sometimes I’m afraid to even try. I creep up to my desk like a half-lit firework, never sure if I’m more afraid of a damply disappointing pouf or the whole thing blowing up in my face.

Lately I’ve been lamenting, to myself and to anyone else who’ll listen, how the words only seem to come now when there’s no chance of me writing them down; in the shower, in a morning rush, whilst driving at 70(ish) MPH. It occurred to me that these are the only times I am really alone with my thoughts – that washing my hair generally constitutes a luxurious break. I had high hopes that self employment might be the solution.

It wasn’t. I’ll work incessantly in a random cafe, but it’s never the creative stuff. Those words and ideas only come when they shouldn’t, meaning I’m forced to dictate them awkwardly to my audio notes, or repeat them over and over until my hair is clean & I can grab myself a pen.


WATCH MY PHONE… MAGIC, RIGHT?

When I was a child it felt like I could always write. I wrote for fun; I used to ask for extra exercise books at school to hold all of my make-believe. Perfectly-poised sentences were my superpower, and I could deploy them at will in exams & essays.
Then, a day at high school; presented with a rare opportunity for creative writing, I found I had zilch. We were asked to write short stories – my moment to shine – but when I reached for my arsenal, my powers were gone.

Now when I need to write, I have to wait. I let it sneak up on me, because the harder I try the more slippery it becomes. I can write well enough at any old time, but it’s truly not the same. I can tell the difference, and you could too, if I laid out two pieces side by side.
I see it as writer’s block, and aim to work through it, but whatever I create in those dry, dusty moments is invariably scrapped when the real inspiration finally hits.

A friend recently told me of the default mode network – a neurological nuance that works quietly away when we’re not busy focussing on a task. It seems to explain a lot – the shower thoughts, the heavy-eyed bedtime brainwaves.
If this is the reason, then the solution is clear: to be a better writer, I need to write less, nap & daydream more. Perhaps my inner lazy girl was right all along…

Do you have any tips for overcoming creative block? What circumstances tend to bring about your best work?

16 Comments

  • Alyssa

  • February 01, 2016

I got mine from Aqua Notes!

  • Sara Tasker

  • January 31, 2016

omg! I was literally just saying to my fiance yesterday that I need to invent such a thing. I’m off for a google!

  • Alyssa

  • January 30, 2016

I can relate to this. A couple years ago I came across a waterproof notebook for the shower ideas though!

  • Emma

  • January 14, 2016

So I just read the whole of that link to …. default mode network thingy…..what ever it was called…..TOTALLY FASCINATING! I’m now really thinking about how modern life has reduced our day dreaming time down to zilch. Who stars out the window now? No one! And what affect that might be having on our psych. Hmmmm

  • Jessica Emmett

  • January 13, 2016

Ditto! The shower thing especially but also that moment just before I fall asleep. It’s rare that we get to let our minds wander like that in day to day life I suppose. I can definitely sense when I’m accessing something more insightful and I have to try really hard to commit it to memory! There are about 20 half finished blog posts in my phone notes where I’ve had a flurry of inspiration but they often don’t get tied up neatly into a finished piece. I agree though, those moments always produce far better quality writing than anything contrived.

  • Rebecca Harrison

  • January 13, 2016

Most of the time, my anxiety’s a gorgon’s glare. I fret so much that I’m crap that I just stone-up & freeze. I recommend having a break and writing just for fun and just for yourself. Don’t worry about who’s going to read it or whether they’ll approve. I did this last Summer in a fury of nostalgia for the Choose Your Own Adventure books I loved as a child: it was as if I’d greased the keyboard. Twas like a writing holiday. *nods* This was my story http://roseredreview.org/2015-winter-rebecca-harrison/

  • Nicole

  • January 13, 2016

Things that improve productivity can be positive AND self indulgent. They are great at getting the job done and you back to your family and creating adventures (which you can share / post about) and living the good life…

I’m never sure it’s clearing your mind that is the thing, without getting woo-woo about it I think your body can be a huge blocker. I’ve spent billable hours walking on the moors or in the bath, no shame, it doesn’t matter what you are doing to get the task done, it’s still productive time if your mind is on task (which is what we are saying isn’t it, that your mind wanders to it’s most creative self when your body isn’t in an active working position), it doesn’t matter where your body is geographically.

  • Sara Tasker

  • January 13, 2016

All really good tips! The problem is I’m always so busy it’s hard to justify this to myself – however much I *know* it will help, it still feels insanely self indulgent and wrong. Need to change my mindset! xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • January 13, 2016

Oh! We have those crayons – this is a brilliant idea, and I don’t know why it’s never occured to me to use them! Thanks for the tip! xox

  • Sara Tasker

  • January 13, 2016

Not just me then! I have SO many posts almost-finished in my drafts for this exact reason… x

  • Nicole

  • January 13, 2016

Half my website content and the re-design were done in the bath tub.

It’s the ultimate in multi-tasking and actually enjoying it.

Bath pens / crayons (not just for kids…) are your new best friend. They work on shower enclosure glass too – just be sure to snap it on your phone when you get out before someone comes and cleans up after you before it’s been transcribed…

  • nikkiana

  • January 13, 2016

I’ve found that writers block for me tends to happen if I’m forcing myself to write for a particular context, and for some reason I’m just not ready to do that.

So, I tend to either pull out my journal and pen, or open up a word processing program and just free write for awhile and clear out all the gunk and junk in my head, and more often than not… A draft of something will come out of allowing myself to just do a brain dump without any particular agenda other than to get it out.

  • Jax Blunt

  • January 13, 2016

And last night I put a holding post on my blog because my words have gone again.

  • Ola z Apetycznego Wnętrza

  • January 13, 2016

It is something for me 🙂 I can’t draw by graphic tablet looking at computer. I love journals and real pen 🙂 have a nice day!

  • Bex Jenkins

  • January 13, 2016

I know all about those shower/driving/daydream moments. It can be infuriating -,especially if the idea slips away. I do the repeating lines in my head too! Writing daily on a newspaper to crazy tight deadlines cured me of writer’s block, as such. It sort of jump starts something in your brain being under that pressure. The stress of it got me down though.
It’s much nicer to just let the muse come and go. X

  • Kizzy

  • January 13, 2016

I go for a walk, read a book or get in the car and sing my head off! Stepping away and clearing my mind of what is needed really helps and then I return to it and start again.

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