There are occasions, as all writers know, when you may find yourself walking off the path of creativity and inspiration…and you’re staring directly at a brick wall. It happens. Some call it writer’s block, some may doubt their skills as a writer, and sometimes…you’re just plain tired. There’s no way around it. It can be frustrating and it can be disheartening and it can end up tossing a lot of deadlines in the trash at the last minute, because you just can’t rush that which will not be rushed. It’s just that simple.
However, this article isn’t going to be about the dreaded writer’s block, as I’ve written about that at length in the past. Instead, this is going to be about asking yourself the one simple question that may help you to get around the obstacle of writer’s block altogether, and get right back to work on your masterpiece. And that question is…
“How are you feeling?”
Take a moment and think about it right now before reading any further. Just take a few seconds of emotional inventory, and think about what’s going on with you at this very moment. Think about what’s going on in your life, in your relationships, at your job or at your school…and now think about how that has affected you and how it makes you feel right now as you’re reading this.
You got it? Ok, get that emotion and hold onto it. It’s open, it’s honest, it takes some vulnerability, but whatever that feeling is, good or bad or anywhere in between…write THAT! Hehehe! Channel that feeling into words, and share your experience with your readers. Let it be ‘real’, both to you and to your audience.
What I discovered…was that I was trying to align my emotions with the story and the scenes and the characters that I was working with…instead of the other way around. Basically, I was trying to push my true feelings aside just long enough to get my work done…forgetting that it was my ‘feelings’ that made my work enjoyable and meaningful to me in the first place. I mean, that was the whole point of me writing, wasn’t it? To express myself? To pour my heart out on the page (Or the screen, as the case may be)? I’ve found that the moment you train yourself to let your heart guide you instead of trying to box it in to whatever limited space you need to get the next chapter of your story out, writer’s block becomes MUCH less of a problem than it was before.
That’s not to say that it’ll never happen again, hehehe, but at least you’ll have some personal insight as to why it might be a problem for you at all.
I eventually realized that what I was struggling through wasn’t really a creative block. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, because I definitely did. I just couldn’t say it with the particular story that I was working on. I couldn’t channel my current emotions through the characters that I was working with. It simply didn’t fit. Now, I know that people are always saying, “Jesus, Comsie! Why are you always working on so many stories at once? Why don’t you just concentrate on finishing one or two at a time?” Here’s my explanation…or as some may see it, my ‘excuse’…
I can definitely be a moody person more times than not. I’m not unstable, by any means, but I’m affected by the situations and the people around me. Sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a negative way. And I can tell you…if you think for one moment that I want to drive to work in the pouring rain one morning, work a double shift, get flak from my boss over something petty, fight traffic on the way home, find nothing but some lousy leftovers in the fridge for dinner…tired, physically and emotionally drained, with a slight headache…and then I’m going to sit down and write a cheerful and happy scene between the characters in “New Kid In School”…you’re crazy! Hehehe! Yeah, yeah…I know you’ve been waiting a long time for it, but my heart isn’t going to be a part of that process at all. No way! I’m exhausted, soaking wet, and highly frustrated. And now I’m going to spend what little energy I have left to make a couple of fictional characters grin and giggle and have a good time? Hehehe, life isn’t happy for me! Life SUCKS right now! Nobody can be upbeat and happy all the time. Not even with a screen name like ‘Comicality’.
However, once I sit down at this keyboard…if I have a character that is really going through a rough time, is feeling lost or wistful, or is hurting over something or someone who rejected them or let them down…I might jump into that story or that particular scene and spill everything that I’m feeling at the moment into that section of the story. If I had to drive in the rain that day, I might have it be a rainy and gloomy day in that chapter. If I’m feeling embarrassed or heartbroken, I might channel that energy into it as well. The emotion fits what I’m writing, and it delivers a certain punch that I don’t feel is anywhere near as potent as it could be when I’m trying to force it out for the sake of finishing a chapter.
The same goes from when I’m in a joyful mood too. I don’t want to have an amazing day, get a raise at work, laugh until my belly hurts with an old friend, and maybe just randomly find a 20 dollar bill in one of my pants pockets that I forgot about…and then try to depress myself enough to write a scene of turmoil and abuse in “My Only Escape”. That emotion doesn’t match what I want to write either. And for me, personally…that’s where my biggest battles in the past with writer’s block were coming from. Usually, if I’m trying to write a story, and the ideas aren’t coming to me naturally and freely…it’s probably because I’ve got something else on my mind. And it’s not going to just ‘go away’ for the sake of me wanting it to go away. So why not write about it?
And that brings us back to the big question…
“What are you feeling right now?”
Think of a very small, very focused, situation. It doesn’t have to be anything big, or particularly meaningful. You don’t even have to name your characters if you don’t want to. Make it very short, and very simple. Like… “One boy is looking at another boy sitting across from him in history class.” The idea should be something that you can explain in a single sentence, but don’t worry…the situation and the characters aren’t the point of the exercise.
Hold on to that simple premise. Keep it handy.
Now…try writing out a small narrative where you just talk about what’s going on in that scene, and add your own personal touch to it. Don’t think about it too much. Be spontaneous. Keep it short. Something you can write in ten minutes or less. Again, hold on to it for later. Then…the next time you have a really bad day, and you’re feeling frustrated and angry…take that exact same ‘one sentence’ situation…and write that scene again. Don’t try to write it the way you did the first time, just let yourself go, and let your emotions set up that same situation, but while you’re in a different frame of mind. If you’re feeling happy? Write it again. From scratch. If you’re bored? Write it again. Approach it as if each time it’s the first time that you’ve done it. Pay attention to the words you use, and the overall tone you set up. Even pay attention to the length of it. Maybe you write longer texts when you’re in a good mood. Maybe you don’t feel like writing much of anything when you’re in a bad mood, and you cut it short. Take inventory of how your mood is changing the narrative of this short series of events and how it affects you as a writer, being able to ‘bleed on the page’ and get that emotional baggage off of your shoulders.
Maybe you’re feeling particularly horny that day, and all of a sudden this is one of the most attractive, most seductive, boys that has ever walked the planet. But…maybe you’re just coming off of a particularly nasty break up, and you might write about how you don’t ever want to fall in love again and how hopeless it is to even try. Whatever you’re feeling in that moment, write it out. Nobody else has to see it but you if you don’t want them to. This isn’t something you have to do for an audience. Instead, do it for yourself. Learn to recognize what you’re feeling at any given moment, and use that to your advantage instead of letting it cripple you in your attempts to finish whatever it is that you think you need to finish first.
I write so much better when I’m getting things off of my chest. It’s like, I get to free up enough room for me to go back to the story that I was having trouble with and approach it with a brand new outlook and a fresh burst of renewed energy. Some days I’m feeling cynical and sarcastic, other days I’m feeling all giddy and romantic, other days I’m feeling philosophical and contemplative, and then…sometimes I’m just feeling downright SILLY! Hehehe, but if you read certain stories or certain scenes from me, you can definitely see and feel where my head was at that moment. So give it a shot. It’s an exercise that works for me, and maybe it’ll work for you too.
I certainly hope that this helps! Happy writing, you guys! And best of luck to you all! 🙂