All of us have been there, we’ve sat in front of a blank paper with a pen in our hand, long enough for it to feel like we cannot ever write again. I have been there myself and I will not say it’s easy to pull yourself out, it’s not. I acknowledge that, but I never stopped trying. If you’re here reading this, I am guessing you’re doing the same. I hope these suggestions and recommendations help you at least a little with your block and help you to make it out eventually!
- One True Sentence
Ernest Hemingway once said,
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
Right, when you think you cannot write no matter how hard you have tried, take yourself back to those instances of your life which you made through with great difficulty and write it down in one sentence. The idea here is to write something so true that it will be invincible. (This is not to say that art only ever results out of pain or that you need to put yourself through pain to create art, you’re just reflecting or for that matter discovering yourself)
- Writing Prompts
A writer’s block will disrupt your repeated trials of fleshing fresh ideas for your creative write up. In such cases, when you make up your mind about writing but do not know what to write or cannot think of an idea, prompts are going to be your best friends. They give you a chance to explore your skills and experiment with new formats and genres. Here I have attached a few prompt lists which helped me write when I had convinced myself otherwise.
Apart from these, you can always look up “Writing Prompts” on google and start writing on the one you find captivating enough.
- Watch, listen and learn (poetry oriented)
A great way to beat your block is watching and listening to poems by other poets. There are countless podcasts available run by poets themselves where they magnificently read their poems and they stay with you. Youtube channels like Button Poetry, Kommuneity are your resources of unarguably great poets and poems! I have attached two of my favourite poems from these channels below for you to check!
Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye – “When Love Arrives”,
My Multilingual Love Affairs – Aekta Khubchandani
Apart from these, during this lockdown, I stumbled upon Josie Alford, who soon became my greatest companion for all things poems! She has been a guide to me, very unknowingly. Her videos range from How to Write a Poem to How to Get Published. She has completed her Master’s in Creative Writing and has specialised in Poetry, so for me, these videos are a blessing. I’d recommend you to check them out as well!
- Read, read, read
If watching and listening does not prove as helpful, as a writer you will always be recommended to go back to reading. Great writing always comes from great reading. Books always leave us with more and more space for interpretation, inspiration and creativity. Reading is a great way to welcome an inflow of thoughts which otherwise would have remained inaccessible to us. I’d recommend reading works by Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, T.S. Eliot and needless to say, Hemingway.
- Overcome the critic in you and write
You know how you get used to your features after a while? Meaning, you look at yourself every day in a mirror and find nothing extraordinary in it. It’s every day to you that you see your reflection and know how you look. But to a person who hasn’t seen you before, you’re extraordinary, you’re unique because they haven’t seen anything/ anyone like you before.
In the same way, the more you think about a story, a concept, a poem or a piece that you write that more it feels ordinary because you already know what’s going to happen, you know the story is. But to a reader, not a clue. To a reader, it’s going to be new. So right now, maybe try thinking from a reader’s perspective than a writer’s.
You’re going to be your critic most of the times. And 95/100 times your gut feeling is going to be right about what’s precious in your writing and what should be discarded. But there are going to be those five times when your gut feeling is going to act out in an unhealthy way. By now, you’ll know when you’re doubting yourself a little too much and when it’s necessary. When you find yourself doing the former, talk to someone, ask for unbiased opinions, read your writing from the perspective of a reader, take a break and get back with a fresh mind. But do not give in to the evil voice that says “This is not good enough”. Remember it is okay to just write for yourself for a while and not publish/ post your pieces anywhere until you feel comfortable to do the same. But, keep writing, even if it is only for yourself.
In addition to these, I suggest trying to take your mind off writing for a bit and going out for a walk, a jog, playing music, dancing, painting, anything that will freshen you up for you to come back to your piece with different and crisp perspective. No matter what, w r i t e. Writing is the only way through!