Blogger’s block, or any kind of creative block, can be so frustrating, even painful. You really want to express yourself, but you just. can’t. do. it. In my personal experience, and in my work with clients and students, blogger’s block can happen because you:
• need rest
• need to try something new
• are afraid to fail
• are burned out and need to be re-inspired
• are trying too hard
The thing is, creativity is like this California poppy that I took a photo of at dusk. It’s all closed up, but when the sun comes out, it will open again. It has a natural rhythm. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, or blogger’s block, or any kind of creative block, the flow will return! Below are some things that have worked for my clients, my students and for me:
1. Take a break
It’s difficult to be creative when you are worn out, or your brain is full of to-dos. Go to bed early. Take a nap. Do “nothing” for an hour. Empty your mind. If you’ve been blogging for a long time, consider taking a blogging sabbatical, or even a complete digital sabbatical.
Staring at a blank screen for a long time can be like waiting for water to boil. Nothing happens. Step away from your computer and move. Go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride, or to a dance class. Be sure to take something with you (e.g. your phone, a paper and pen) so that you can capture ideas as they pop up. (There was even a study that showed that walking improves creativity).
Whether you’re new to blogging, or an old hand, you probably have an idea of what you think “good” or “bad” blogging looks like. But what if you’re wrong? What if whatever you think is the “right” way to blog isn’t true? Or the thing that you think you shouldn’t write about is exactly what people need to read right now?
As someone who has been blogging for almost 10 years, and who helps other people blog, this happens to me a lot. One exercise that has helped me is to free write over and over my answer to the prompt, “What I really want to write about is . . .” If I write fast enough, I can outrun my “inner editor” who wants to nix any risky ideas, and am able to come up with new ones.
4. Make a (short) writing date with yourself
As I mentioned in my post, How do I find time to__________?, limits can actually increase creativity. Put a regular blogging date with yourself on your calendar at whatever time of day allows you to be your creative best, and keep it. No excuses. Do not make it last for hours and hours and hours. 90 minutes is best.
5. Publish on the same day you write
This is my personal trick. I can be a bit of a perfectionist, so if I wait too long after I’ve finished a piece to publish it, my inner editor will convince me that I should cut this, re-write that, move that over there, and the next thing you know I have a boring version of my piece, or I don’t publish it at all.
That said, I do find it easier to catch errors if I step away from my writing for a bit, but I risk not publishing if I do, so if you decide to let you inner editor work on your post, give her a time limit, and take the risk of publishing even if it isn’t “perfect.”
In her book, Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, my friend Tara Mohr suggests going to Amazon and reading the five-star and zero-star reviews of your favorite authors to help you understand that if you say anything of significance, people will have strong reactions to it: praise and criticism. I suspect you’ll probably find the same phenomenon in the comments of your favorite blog.
7. Trust your inklings
One of my favorite pieces of writing advice comes from Pat Schneider, the author of How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice, who I interviewed for the Arts and Healing Podcast a couple years ago. During the interview she said:
“There really is no reason why anyone should ever be blocked if we do this: go inside yourself and ask for an image, by that I mean a picture of something. And you’re asking yourself, your whole history and your whole imagination, ‘Give me one image.’
And let’s suppose what comes up is a ketchup bottle and you think, ‘I don’t want a ketchup bottle, that isn’t meaningful. What can I do with ketchup bottle?’ Well you don’t ask that question. Just say, ‘OK, my unconscious gave me a ketchup bottle.'”
From there, she suggests you start writing about that image until you “see” something else and start to write about that, and then another image will appear and you write about that, “like skipping a stone across the water.” She explains:
“Keep going to whatever your inner eye sees because you’re not getting off track, you’re getting on track, and pretty soon you will forget you’re writing.”
How do you move gracefully through blogger’s block and other creative blocks?
Photos by me.