Often in the middle of a project, there comes a brief moment in the space time continuum when you run into the dreaded writer's block; when words elude you, ideas scamper away in little tap dancing boots, and the world sits still gazing at you with big bleary eyes, waiting for your shoe to drop.
So what’s the solution?
In the beginning of my writing journey, I would shut the laptop and pace about nervously waiting for inspiration to descend unto me or simply wallow in limitless pity.
But with experience, I have in my kitty a few tried and tested ideas, that I unfurl with a flourish into the path of any incoming block.
Try them and let me know if they worked for you;
1. Read your favourite book – Have you experienced a time when you were reading a book and were suddenly seized by an uncontrollable desire to shout out your truth from rooftops, leave the job you hate or travel to an unknown city. It happened to me with a little-known book gem called ‘Veronica Decides to Die’ from Paulo Coelho. This book made me question everything unfulfilling I was doing with my life. Another longtime favourite is ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King which beckons me every time I stray two feet away from my writing desk. So choose a few good books which make your heart go ding. Maybe it’s how the words play out with each other, maybe it’s a character or maybe its how that book smells. Anything that puts you in the mood. Keep these books on your bedside table and take a whiff whenever you feel drained out.
2. Change your scenery – The incessant drone of human conversation and the whiff of freshly brewed coffee that literally makes the words tumble out of me. I generally sit by a large bay window at a Starbucks and write while sipping my favourite Frappuccino. The same is interspersed with generous bouts of people watching, yet another amazing source for writing ideas. So try changing your scenery when the words escape you. Sit out in a public garden or on your terrace or once in a while in a slowly chugging train to get the juices flowing.
3. Take a power nap – Writing is a neuron exhausting activity and the best way to fire them up again is to take a short 20 minutes nap. It works wonders, especially for that long sluggish afternoons. But keep your alarm for the set time or that 20 min nap will evolve into a two hour snooze..
4. Get moving – Walk or go for a run. Fresh air and the general bonhomie of the outdoors can quickly revive your brain fogged spirits. I often take a late afternoon walk with my dog. So while Coco patiently snorts into every foul smelling thingy on the road, I use the time to reimagine the plots or conjure up conversations between my characters. Somehow the outside always manages to put a new spin on the story inside.
5. Brew your cup of Joe – For me it’s a tall glass of hot ginger lemon tea or if its time to call for the big guns, my big blue stoneware mug of coffee. And mind you, you must prepare it yourself. There is something oddly comforting and meditative about brewing your cup of stimulant. It helps you add a little perspective to life and rein in worries and raging neurons.
6. Try yoga – Especially the inverted poses like Sirsasana, Uttanasana or Sarvangasana. They are great for rushing fresh blood into your tired mind and rejuvenating you. And the best part is, they work wonders for growing a good head of hair.
7. Create a routine - For me it’s early mornings. I wake up by 5.30 and park myself on my writing desk latest by 6.15 to put in two hours of solid writing before the vagaries of the day get in the way. I sit at the desk even if I don’t feel like. Because I have seen that if you persist long enough, your mind gives in and aligns itself with your routine. This is probably the most important tip of all – creating a routine around your most productive time.
These ideas work great for any major brain sized activity, whether it’s a long pending project you are working on or updating your blog. The trick is to keep going and soon enough you enter into the flow and eliminate blocks of all shapes and sizes.
So what do you do to get into the zone?