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How to Cure the Writing Blues 

Tips on how to unblock the dreaded writer's block

· Blog Post,Productivity

For me, writing was just a hobby which started in high school. Growing up, I loved reading and often fell asleep with a book at hand, while the characters I read about pranced in my dreams. I’ve always imagined myself lounging on the beach with a pen and paper in my hand, writing about my adventures as the waves splashed on the beach, and the sun kissing my skin. But like most people, I didn’t pursue my passion because of the image of a starving artist hung over my head. Since I had my needs, I put my pen aside and started working as a call center representative in the Business Process Outsourcing industry.

Soon I found myself bored with the repetitive work, and secretly wished to be off somewhere sitting down, with my mind wandering into those new places I found so enticing when I was younger. The pen’s call was louder than ever, and so I decided to write again, this time about the loss of my first born. It moved me, but it also brought back the love I had for words. Somehow it became a catharsis, with my piece ending up in my company’s newsletter. I knew then that I was meant to write.

With the motivation to be a better mother and a better person for my son, I quit the corporate world and went on a journey to find myself. I realized that I couldn’t push him to do amazing things if I couldn’t do it myself. And so I took the leap and found myself in freelancing with the help of a good friend. I thought it would be easier, but it simply wasn’t. Working as a freelancer without the proper experience proved to be catastrophic for me. I’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and fortunately got back on track with the help of people I admire the most. Now, I’m in the creative field and doing what I love the most. I also got the chance to raise my son in the process. But still, there are bumps along the way, especially when you get that dreaded writer’s block, when you just sit there in front of the screen with tears running down your cheeks and yet words wouldn’t come.

Writing, like other crafts, is not an easy task. Ernest Hemingway, author of The Old Man and the Sea, describes it perfectly: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." There will be times that you feel like you are stuck in a rut, and inspiration seems to be out on vacation and wouldn’t come back. So here are things I do to help myself zoom in and reset my focus to get those creative juices flowing.

1. Let loose and let go. --- Fear is the biggest block for your creativity. Whether it’s being too critical of one’s work or just thinking about what other people might say, it is fear that stops us from doing what needs to be done. The best thing to do is assess yourself, look at your fears, and realize that the most of it might just be self-made. Instead of wasting your energy thinking about the worst case scenario, put all your energy into thinking of how amazing your work will be. Visualize yourself succeeding in your work and you will get a different perspective of things. You’ll be surprised at how amazing you can be if you just readjust your focus.

2. Read, read, and read. – Reading is like a wonder drug for creativity, a magic pill if you will. It is the best way to exercise the grey blob inside your head. If you want to be good at anything, make it a habit to pick up a book and read. There are numerous lists of must-have books for any topic you can think of. What you need to do to make sure you get your daily dose is to create an activity where you would sit down and read for at least twenty minutes a day and put it in your schedule so you won’t miss it.

3. Take a bath. --- Did you know that taking a bath helps you be creative? When you feel relaxed, your brain releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone naturally present in our body. Dopamine acts as a stimulant that can increase activity between neurons which also amps up your brain activity. Taking a bath, exercising and listening to music makes your brain produce more of this stuff. No wonder why your great ideas always come in the shower. So the next time you’re stuck, get in the bath and start doodling.

4. Try something new. – Go out and explore your world. Do something out of character just for the heck of it. Check out the new restaurant and eat their signature dish, go rock climbing for the first time. Wake up early and see the sunrise. Meet new people and ask questions. Attend workshops. Learn how to bake. The list goes on and on, and as it grows, you are rewarded with new materials, new experiences and new perspectives. The possibilities are endless.

5. Practice makes progress. - You just have to do it to be better at it. No one really gets it the first time, and it’s ok to think that your first draft, your first sketch or your first design is crappy. Read your work, then edit. Highlight what you think needs work and just continue writing. Show it to a friend and get feedback. Schedule your work. Get inspiration online and offline. What’s most important is that YOU ARE DOING IT. As cliché as it sounds, try and try until you make it happen.

Keep in mind that creativity is something natural to all of us and is not limited to the arts. Creativity also comes in the form of problem solving, of improving a process, or how you handle stressful situations, and even comes in those moments of dire need, the unexpected. As long as you are thinking of ways to improve your conditions, then creativity will always come in handy.

Now, ready, set, create!

Article by Herlene Somook, Content Manager at NextStep 

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