Creativity: One Way to End Writer’s Block

How to inspire inspiration.

Posted Jul 25, 2018

Source: Pixabay

Creative block is state of mind that affects just about every creative writer and other artists as well. One way to relieve it is by shifting your attention. This post will show you how and offer you the first of two different methods you can use that will yield some pretty nice results. 

Go Outward

Let’s start with moving your attention outward. This means what it suggests: focusing on the details of your immediate surroundings. The activity should break any block immediately since it allows you to start work right away. As an aside, it can also be used to enhance your creative process whenever you are not experiencing a block. 

All you have to do is find a comfortable place. I suggest a natural outdoors environment. You may prefer a busy space or a quiet one that gives you more solitude. No problem with either. Take some notes, by whatever your habit is, using a laptop, pencil and paper to list or sketch–whatever you normally do.

One person I know, a poet, takes notes on her cell phone. Environments she chooses are usually somewhere new. She says she will know the space when she “feels” it; it will excite and interest her. She can recognize it almost immediately. So the nice part is that all she has to do is start walking, discover her special place and stay a while. She says that the details often work out differently each time, but the one thing that’s consistent is she starts out listing sensory detail. Sometimes words appear in her head as she is doing so, sometimes she knows what they mean with regard to the detail, other times not. Once in a while a whole scenario will come to her which she will note. Sometimes no words come at all–just feelings that spring from the details. She jots these down as fully as she can. Often abstract images not part of her environment bubble up from “inside.” She adds these without thinking of meaning. She leaves that for a day or so later. 

One image she recalled was of a luna moth hugging her cabin door in the woods, on a full moon night as in her chosen environment police sirens blared. She also recalled luna moths only live about a week. The word “time” was loud in her head. So the place, the details–physical, emotional, right there or imagined, some old memories all go in the mix and are noted. Most of the time, she says, her take-away is piecemeal. But the fun of it is she now has something to work with and there is a lot of energy and reward discovering what picture the pieces add up to and might mean. To her surprise on some occasions, the pieces fall into place right then and there and she walks away with a finished composition. More often, however, the process requires further investigation and discovery. 

If you try this approach, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Find a place that “feels right” to you.
  • Remember it’s all about process. Relax and enjoy the process.
  • Widen your attentional lens in your chosen space to take in a plethora of details. Observe them as you would reflections floating by atop a clear lake.
  • Don’t get hung up on any one detail or any one thought. By all means write them down, but simply be there to just take things in. Go for quantity of detail and breadth.
  • Narrow your focus when a particular detail interests you, but then open it again to take in the whole picture.

A Day Later

To use this method you have to have patience. It takes a while for the images you have collected to attach to other images from your personal experiences and information base. This will happen to an extent each time you reopen the scenario in your mind. But you will be surprised at how your original images can grow in detail and meaning. 

I suggest reviewing your list a day or so later (even longer if need be or you like, don’t worry about time). This will stimulate more ideas and more associated imagery. Again, I recommend using a wide attentional lens on the detail and letting it bubble up from bottom. Consider yourself an observer. Add new arriving details, images, thoughts to your list. Keep your notes going until a means of molding the pieces into a composition suggests itself. Don’t feel obliged to include all the details.

In the meantime, consider another visit to your special place again or try combining it with a visit to another setting. Sometimes going to a contrasting location and collecting more pieces is just what you need. Your job is to note what your mind attaches to. Review your notes periodically, looking for connections, adding relevant ones. You can also surf the Internet, watch television or read a book that excites you and focus on how detail there might connect to your notes. Eventually the link that will tie it all together for you will emerge. So again, enjoy the process.

One extra thought: Structurally it is possible for the core of your composition to be molded so that the work can be about anything–e.g. work, relationships, morality, politics, gender, anything. Consider how the luna moth image can fit each of these with just a little more detail, kind of neat.  The effect can be achieved by opening your attention to issues that divide us as people and then looking past them to discover the purely human experience within the details and images you have sketched. From this angle, the composition’s core can be shaped so that it is about anything.

The more you engage in this process, the more confidence and proficiency you will have in it and the more rewarding each step will become.

Note: In a future post, we will look at an “internal” method to relieving creative block as well as an amazing language-generated solution.