Finding The Joy Of Writing

Over recent months, I’ve found myself fighting with the first major writer’s block of my short time as a blogger. My enthusiasm for writing in itself hasn’t diminished so it’s been a very confusing time in all honesty. A number of stories still swim through my head and I hold onto them as best I can but when it comes to putting them into words the way I’m used to, something always stops me.

I’ve written about writer’s block before but this has, by far, been the most mind boggling situation to find myself in. At first, I just tried to break through it and began experimenting with methods that would take me outside of my usual routine in order to stimulate a change in my mentality. From repainting my home to spending a weekend camping alone in the middle of nowhere, I was willing to try anything to break the block. Often I would think it was working but when the time came to write, even logging my experiences felt like a struggle.

For those who don’t know, I was a full time carer for someone when I first began blogging. I spent a lot of my time housebound and in a way, writing probably saved my sanity through that period of my life. I didn’t discuss my life as a carer but it gave me a focus other than what was right in front of me. I had no expectations for myself other than to love the very process of writing. The recognition and feedback of others was surprising but gratifying and over time, I began to hope that I could make something of this. Writing has been a passion unlike any other for me so finding myself unable to write has been infuriating and at times, even depressing.

Then I stopped being a carer shortly after the block began. I got a full time job and started to wonder if writing had just been an outlet to get me through a difficult phase of my life. I wondered if I’d be happier just stopping. And for a while, I did. Not once since then have I stopped wanting to write but it’s always ended the same way – with frustration, anger and usually a hasty surrender.

This post, on the other hand – and hopefully all future posts – is different. I’ve dwelt on the reason for these difficulties constantly and asked myself time and time again “How do I beat this?” with no answer in sight… That changed when I started asking a different question.

Why Do You Want To Beat This?

A creator is someone who makes something that starts as nothing but a mere thought. Through the creator that thought takes shape and with a bit of time, commitment and sometimes a little luck, it becomes something more. The end result can be whatever the creator decides they want it to be and because of that, the possibilities are limitless. A few words can be more powerful than a thousand and there will never be too many stories or songs in the world because the process in itself can take any shape or form.

There’s a joy in that process which can’t be clearly described. That may seem pretty rich coming from someone claiming to be a writer but that’s exactly the point. Creation isn’t definable, there’s no rule book to it but more often than not, we try to write the rules. It doesn’t take muck to see from my past posts that I’ve attempted just that.

When you focus more on defining the process than just enjoying the process itself, you stop creating. My theories on writing are just theories but I began to see them differently. They became rules that I had to abide by and through sharing those rules I put pressure on myself to get it right every time which goes against the very nature of a writer. I don’t want to be right all the time, but I want to write all the time. Forgetting that is what stopped me in my tracks for this long.

I’m writing publicly today with confidence for the first time in a long time because I’ve let go of those imaginary rules. I’m not going to get it right every time and neither are you. Writing isn’t about getting it right, it’s about expressing your passion and turning your thoughts into something you can take pride and joy in. If it gives that same joy to others then it’s a bonus, nothing more.

Don’t prioritise your work succeeding over the work itself. The creative industry as a whole is an amazing industry that all creators want to be a part of, we just don’t need to be. Love the process and hope that others around will enjoy it. If you create something with true love, chances are they will.

I think this post is written with love and I know it’s been written for me. I want that to be the case with everything I post going forward.

I’ll still hope you all enjoy it though.

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The Creative Mind: Battling The Block

Creativity is a fascinating thing! There are countless possibilities to what can form in the creative mind with no limits to what a single individual can invent. Ideas can be shared universally by others but the devil is always in the details and when it comes down to the details, every idea becomes completely unique. When you consider just how much work that big old brain of yours can really do, it’s actually quite mind-boggling (pardon the pun)!

And yet, finishing a project we can be proud of is always an uphill battle. There’s always room for improvement in our work or a more efficient way to complete it but these often feel like goals that are just out of our reach. This can be due to a lack of confidence in our abilities, a sense of urgency to meet deadlines and a series of other factors. The most common problem however is that old classic; the dreaded creative/writer’s block. 

It’s the most disheartening  and infuriating experience you will ever deal with as a creator and it can strike anytime for any number of reasons. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already experienced it on more than one occasion and if you haven’t, I can guarantee that you will.

There’s no definitive explanation as to what causes that creative block but there are many ways for you to work around it. Some of these suggestions may tailor to you, some may not. Regardless, you’ll be much better off attempting them than you will sitting around waiting for the block to just pass of it’s own accord.

Maintain A Positive Work Space

Many people mistake this to mean “clean your room” but that isn’t strictly true. Everybody has a unique process of their own and while some may feel the need to keep everything tidy and organized, there are others (like myself) who have a more chaotic process by nature. Project notes can be neatly stacked on one work desk and scattered across another yet the results can be equally successful.

This is because both desks have one thing in common: They tailor to whoever is sitting behind them. If you prefer your working environment to be clean and organized then keep it clean and organized. If you have an alternate system that works for you then don’t deny that system. Stick to what suits you so you always have the positive mentality that can bring out your best work.

There are naturally a few limits on what’s effective for both sides of the spectrum. Depending on the size of your project, an organized individual may spend more time trying to maintain their work space than they do actually working. Meanwhile, a mountain of dirty plates and an overflowing ashtray does not count as an effective contribution to an organized mess. Whether you’re organizing everything you do or just letting it stack up in a pile, always make sure your work space is a positive environment for you.

Don’t Cram Your Schedule

Setting unrealistic deadlines while maintaining your day job/studies/social life adds to your stress until you inevitably begin glancing towards the clock while your mind wanders to the next task on your busy schedule. That time is meant for creating. Juggling your other activities simply hinders your progress and you will notice the decline in your quality of work.

If you’re taking time to work on your creative project, make that time about your project and nothing else.

If You’re Going To Procrastinate, Do It Properly

If you find yourself hindered by the block for an extended period, get out the old notepad. Write your progress so far and then rewrite it. Put the questions that you’re failing to solve onto paper and write the potential solutions around it. Just seeing those questions sitting in front of you can spur you forward unexpectedly. A whiteboard can be a surprisingly helpful ally as you fight to breach those walls.

If those questions remain unanswered, move on to the next part of your project for a time. There’s a time that comes with any unsolved problem where frustration and stress begins to hinder you further. The best solution is to take a step back for a time. Focusing the mind elsewhere an allow for your subconscious to try and put the pieces together in the background while you make progress elsewhere.

Don’t force yourself through a problem you’re not solving when there are better ways to spend that time. Being aware of your own progression is one of the most encouraging  sensations for a creator and you should hold on to that throughout your entire process. Your momentum can be slowed but it should never be allowed to stop for long.

Change Up Your Own Schedule

There is such a thing as spending too much time on your project. Powering through a creative project when you don’t feel inspired can be much more damaging than taking an extra break or two and if you force yourself to put your nose to the grindstone for too long, the passion for your work can die pretty quickly. Maintaining that creative spark is nowhere near as difficult as reigniting it.

Unfortunately, it does happen quite often. The big problem with creators is that they are usually overly eager to get their project completed and out into the world. That time will come but it won’t happen overnight. Eat, Sleep, Create, Repeat will not do you or your work any favors, you need to take time to yourself and make the rest of your life as varied and interesting as possible.

Don’t just stick to your usual recess routine, change things up as much as you can. No matter where you’re from, there is always something you haven’t done before. It doesn’t need to be anything special, you don’t even need to go anywhere sometimes. Just do something different, even something ridiculous!

Go for a run, sign up to paintball, pull an all-nighter watching bad TV, sit in a park and watch the passers-by, try new food, visit a nightclub, sing in public, go on a day trip, when was the last time you did a cartwheel? Just do something different as often as you can! Even making yourself feel like a fool will provide your mind with new stimulation. 

The creative mind craves new adventures no matter how small or silly they may seem! Be aggressive in seeking out those new adventures so that your creativity expands even further. You’ll come out on top in the end, more confident in your abilities than ever before!