Every writer, especially one who has recently finished a long piece of work, confesses to felling a kind of creative exhaustion. A pretty significant fraction of writers also go on to describe what may be only be named writer’s block, where they are unable to get words on a page.
Very often, writer’s block creates a sense of unhappiness and hardship on the part of the writer, who believes that they will never again be able to write. Yet, when questioned closely, writer’s block is described by many, not just as an inability to gets words on the page, but instead as a deep dissatisfaction with the words and ideas themselves. After having completed a longer work, writers are often very harsh on the new drafts and are exceedingly critical of the fledgling works. Unfairly compared to the completed work, the unedited first draft does often look paltry in comparison, and the ideas seem childish when juxtaposed with the finished manuscript.
As someone who has struggled a few times with this sense of dissatisfaction I can offer my top tips to work our way out of writer’s block:
Don’t be too hard on yourself: writing is hard, and your brain, especially after working on a long piece of work, is tired. Don’t compare your current writing to your completed work, to awards you may have won, or praise that your admirers offered. Sometimes success can be the greatest barrier to our creativity. Remember that this work is only a start, that you will have lots of time later to make it polished. For now, be nice to yourself, and don’t judge your work.
Give yourself some time: sometimes taking a break can be just what your writing needs. If, for whatever reason, your brain is not wanting to deal with words and language, then give it a break – cook, go for long walks, exercise, knit – and give yourself a bit of time before writing becomes fun and interesting again.
Read poetry: this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get out of the writer’s block rut. Read poetry that you love – Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost. Pick a poet you admire and read his or her work everyday. I promise that this will get your creativity flowing again.
Write letters and emails: Even the most exhausted writers can find it in themselves to write to friends and family. Look in your address book, see if there are folks you’ve neglected for a while, and write to them. It’s an easy step to get words to connect to each other in a non-pressured environment, and you will find yourself wanting to write more after your letter is finished. That would be a good time to start the new Hub, article, or short story.