I’m not the kind of person who can write their way out of writer’s block by aimlessly typing shapeless rubbish into a Word Doc until inspiration hits.
I’ve always stood by the theory that editing something, no matter how awful, is better than having nothing to edit. Although, writing content that you know to be bad, even as a draft, can be dispiriting and physically painful.
On a good day, my head is brimming with words that fit well together and lines of poetry that have distinct rhythms and messages. At times like these, I find my notes app full of bits and pieces of writing that have the potential to become entire poems or prompts for short stories. This is great; I’m sure you’ll agree, we all feel incredible when this is the case.
However, there are always dry spells — times when nothing we write seems to sound even remotely interesting. Our poetry falls flat on its face, and our scripts are dull. For me, times like these are incredibly frustrating, but I’ve found that, like an illness, the pain can be alleviated in several different ways.
We all write under different circumstances, but there are some common denominators. I often find that I write best after reading work that sparks interest.
The poetry I currently write is heavily influenced by the work of the Beats and the New York School of Poets. If I look back on a timeline, I see time when my work was particularly influenced by Auden and Eliot.
Some phases pass, but many stick and become an amalgamation of your influences. The writers who you admire and emulate are often the ones that succeed in replenishing your flow. So, when I’m short of ideas, I’ll flick through Birthday Letters, or Lunch Poems to recharge my battery.
Additionally, quotes can also be incredibly helpful, whether they’re quotes about writing or quotes on certain subjects and themes, I feel that they are a quick fix to help sustain your writing. You may have a collection of favourite quotes that you can assemble into an accessible collection and come back to when you’re stuck in a rut.
I think non-fiction writers have less trouble with this next issue, but poets and screenwriters and novelists, I hope you can relate.
Occasionally, I feel like a fraud because I have no idea what I’m writing about, and that is detrimental to my mentality. I become stuck in a stuttering cycle of writing and stopping and considering until I run out of juice.
In my opinion, one of the best solutions to this problem is to defraud yourself. Writing about hiking? Find a mountain to summit, pack your own bag, experience the tumultuous weather, then transfer this experience to your work with the reassurance and support of your genuine experience.
Secondly, I think it is equally, if not more, important to remember this one truth: YOU ARE A WRITER. You are a creator of worlds and people that would not exist if it wasn’t for you! You are a creator of fiction and fantasy and infinite circumstances. It’s important not to doubt your own rules because YOU MAKE THE RULES. Sure, you may have to sit down and untangle messy plots and patch up holes, but in the end, you have the final say.
Thanks for reading this post, and please leave your thoughts below. How do you fight writer’s block? What advice do you have, and do you agree with what I’ve said?
Vivien Lin is a 16-year-old student from the UK, studying English Literature, French, and History. In her spare time, she likes to write poetry, short stories, and articles. Her favorite authors and poets include: Frank O’Hara, Jack Kerouac, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Vonnegut, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (to name a few). She is an advocate of period dramas and good reading habits. In the future, Viv hopes to pursue a career in writing or publishing, own a typewriter, and have a pet bearded-dragon called Pip. Visit her blog for a good time: thereisnowhyblog.wordpress.com.