Over the past few weeks its not that I have had writers block exactly, it’s more that my attention cannot hold on to one idea for too long. I’ve got a series of short vignettes, but am yet to write those final two chapters and edit (rewrite) my novel. I am reading a lot at the moment, but this means I’m not writing as much. Also, my energy has been a little low, in the typical spirit of post-Christmas, January blues.
To cope with all of this, getting done what needs to be done, feeling well and still creating every day, I have come up with a few top tips to keep you writing, creating and living well, even when you feel as though a duvet day, every day, would be a good life choice.
- Fresh Air Every Day
There is something very therapeutic about going for a long walk. And even in these cold dark months, getting out and about, feeling the cold bite your nose, before returning inside to get warm, can really help lift your mood. Walking when you don’t feel like it can also give you a great sense of achievement – I didn’t feel like it, but I still did it. And for my fellow writers and creatives out there, it’s also a great way to untangle any plot holes, unblock writers block and meet some new characters.
- Reading Is Therapy – Fact
Don’t allow yourself to fall down the Netflix/Internet rabbit hole. You’ll get lost down there for hours and your productivity will drop into nothing. Particularly if it’s night time you’ll sleep less, feel worse in the morning and you’ll feel more than a little guilt that you didn’t get any work done. Instead, open up a book. I believe that all creative outlets are linked, whether you’re a film maker, a musician, an artist or a writer, you can get something from any one of these art forms (and the many others not included). Therefore it’s not just writers who should be reading. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, or unable to create, open up a good book. It doesn’t have to be high art, but something to help you relax and start thinking about what it is you want to create.
- To Do Lists That Don’t Overwhelm
Sometimes we have a whole load of things to do but today is not the day to start. Instead, I get out my diary and the next day I write two things that need doing, the next day I write three things, I do this for up to the next week. It can be anything, from redraft two chapters, to cleaning my room. This way it’s manageable and I can allow myself to relax that day, or just go to work and not add anything extra, knowing that the next few days WILL be productive.
- Feed the Body, Feed the Mind
I have never been a dieter. I don’t see the joy behind clean eating or cleanses or anything like that. Eat a little of everything and you have the bases covered. Sometimes when you’re in a slump, or indeed when your in the middle of a creative rush, it can be difficult to eat well. Time passes you by if your busy, or if you’re down you might just forget to eat, or find yourself eating the wrong things. If your appetite isn’t good, cut out fizzy drinks and up your fruit and veg intake, but allow yourself the treats. I find the promise of a bit of chocolate once I hit a certain word count, or have redrafted a certain number of pages, helps my productivity no end!
- Cut Yourself Some Slack!
I don’t mean to go all hippy on you, but be kind to yourself. Everyone has bad days, or weeks when the characters don’t want to talk, the plot suddenly seems hideous, the painting looks a mess, the photographs are sloppy or you suddenly can’t play the most basic piece of music. It’s fine! It happens! No, you haven’t lost your ability to create. Yes, you will get back to it in a couple of days. Take time out, don’t worry and don’t ruin the process for yourself by giving yourself such a hard time that you stop wanting to go back.
- Giggle A Little, Laugh A Lot
It’s important to keep connected all of the time. As a writer I am often tempted to hide myself away in my room and write without coming out. However, last year I started going to university to write, even on the days when I didn’t have lectures or assignments to work on. I would have lunch with a friend, have a coffee break with friends, go out after an afternoon writing or head to a yoga class. It changed my mood and it improved my writing. There is no point in writing every day if you never speak to anyone and end up unhappy. Make time for the people in your life, make time to have a laugh and I guarantee your writing will be better for it. I also think writing workshops, groups and retreats are fantastic because you can talk about your writing and have a laugh at the same time.
I hope these tips help you if your currently in an energy or creativity slump. Go get some fresh air, read a couple of chapters, and remember, you can still do this, perhaps just not today, but tomorrow or in a couple of days.
And that is perfectly fine.