You’ve come up with a fantastic idea, your minds filled with creative thoughts and inspiration. You sit down to write and – mind’s gone blank. Why is it ‘Writer’s Block’ creeps up on you when you least expect it? When you think you’re onto something good?
I have found I work best in the mornings. If I want to get my ideas onto a page and get my scripts started, I have to drag myself out of bed for at least 8am and ensure I have a cup of coffee made before I start.
There have been plenty of times at university I have been stuck in lectures until the evening and when I get home, I cannot write a word. It feels as if my mind just burns out. So I wonder, does ‘Writer’s Block’ actually exist or do we subconsciously do it to ourselves?
I personally think it’s a distraction. There are days when I find myself wanting to do anything other than write. I have an idea that I feel passionate about but getting it onto paper is the hardest part.
Having written a film script for my final year Major Writing Project, I found myself getting distracted in all sorts of ways. At one point I even chose cleaning over getting the script finished (and believe me that is a rare thing!)
While I loved my idea and really wanted to see the finished product, I was sick to death of writing the thing to be honest. I had re written it at least 10 times within 3 months, but my strict deadline meant I had to force myself to get it done. That’s the beauty of university- deadlines. Writing in your own time is a much bigger challenge, as there’s nobody there to fight ‘Writer’s Block’ other than yourself. I have since found you have to want to finish the script for your own reasons, rather than a deadline approaching.
I’ve learnt various ways of doing so and even though all of us work differently, I think at least one of the following could help you too.
I try to inspire creativity by exposing myself to different situations. For instance, ‘People Watching’ is a fantastic thing. Even sitting in Starbucks and trying to figure out a person’s story. Where do they come from? What brought them into the same coffee shop as me, at the exact same time? Are they married? Live alone? Sometimes it’s amazing how much you can get from a person just by watching (obviously do so subtlety, you wouldn’t want them to notice!)
Don’t go to the same place each day, experience something new. Maybe Starbucks one day, a park the next. I am lucky enough to have a balcony and some days I sit there for a couple of hours and just look around. Even though it is quiet, it provides me with a change of scene from the house, and sometimes that is all it takes.
There’s plenty of writing exercises available, especially on the Web. Sometimes the best way to finish your own piece of writing is to start something fresh. Get that creativity reignited in a different project and then continue once you are in the right mindset. I find Tumblr to be a great tool and distraction. I follow blogs I personally have an interest in. Some days all it takes is a beautiful image to make me feel inspired and come up with fresh ideas.
Every writer should sleep with a pen and notepad next to their bed. My dissertation idea was actually inspired by a dream I had, which I wrote down around three years ago and found by chance. The summer before I was due to start my final year, I was panicking, as I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to write for my dissertation. I was going through all of my notepads looking for something, anything. Eventually I stumbled across one sentence, which read:
‘John finds long term girlfriend has cheated on him and the stress leads to a heart attack.’
That’s all it took. My brain filled with ideas and the treatment for my script was created within days. Dreams are so vivid and filled with creativity; unfortunately the majority of us will forget them when we get up in the morning. However, there are occasions you will wake up in the middle of the night feeling inspired, and wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on these thoughts just because you didn’t have a pen and paper handy? Even if the thoughts make no sense at all, I genuinely believe our brains work best at night, when there are no other distractions or worries around.
The more you experience, the more you have to write about. I personally have a list of things I would love to try in my lifetime and I intend to write about each of them. At the end of the day, the more things you are willing to learn and expose yourself to, the more you have to base your characters on.
The only way to truly conquer ‘Writer’s Block’ is to keep writing. Even when you don’t want to and feel there is nothing left to say, just keep going. I’ve got at least 5 unfinished scripts I am currently working on, but I feel inspired with all of them at different times of the day. It’s always worth it when the script comes together and you get the finished product. I am a writer; this is what I do- just keep that in the back of your head.