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?
As I write this, we're slowly coming out of another national lockdown here in the UK. West Yorkshire, where I live, has been under lockdown regulations for roughly 3 quarters of the past 365 days, [...]
What is it about new stationery that is so damn seductive? Nothing makes me feel like I have the potential to completely reinvent myself as a fascinating, raven-haired novelist like a blank notebook [...]