Getting Out of a Slump
From time to time, you find yourself down in the dumps and uninspired. At those times, you just can’t seem to summon the wherewithal to write.
Recently, I found myself in one such rut again but this time, I decided to brainstorm ways to overcome the mental blocks that were keeping me from writing. I took some time to consider my predicament and try to ascertain why I was blocked and what I could do to sort of shake some ideas loose, so to speak.
For one thing, I’ve been a bit stressed out lately. Due to some personal circumstances, I’ve been living outside of my comfort zone and possibly will be for a while. Although it’s not a bad situation, I do find that I’m frazzled and unable to focus on writing at times.
Still, the problem isn’t so simple as needing to find ways to relax and unwind.
For writers, articulating ideas is highly dependent on our ability to affect an individual’s senses and perception with nothing more than words. To do so, we need to be in touch with our own senses and able to translate our impressions of the world around us into the written word.
I think that for most writers, especially in the speculative fiction genres, we become so caught up in the cerebral aspect of creating fantasy worlds that it becomes easy to forget the basics of story-telling. This is perhaps where a good eighty percent of my problem lies.
It became clear to me that what I really needed to do was get back in touch with those senses and revisiting some of the basics of creative writing.
Here are a couple of exercises that are helping me to rediscover the fun in writing:
Observe and Report
Describe in detail, someone you encounter today. Describe that person’s appearance, mannerisms and explain what makes that person memorable or forgettable. Be succinct or be verbose. Try this a few times and see what develops.
Who knows? You might enjoy it so much that one day, you’ll find yourself hunched over in a corner of the local coffee shop, notebook in hand and hiding behind sunglasses as you observe and describe complete strangers.
At the end of your day, think back to the most memorable sensations you felt today. List then explain them. Was one of them something you tasted? Was one something you touched? Which sound is currently still going round and round in your head? What visions do the memory of those things bring to life in your head?
When you stepped out of your house for the first time today, what were the first five things that entered your awareness? What did they make you feel or recall?
As you can guess, these are very simple and potentially boring exercises.
What you might find, though, is that over time, a clever turn of phrase at an inspired moment sneaks its way in and before you know it, you might find yourself breathing life into a new and remarkable piece of work.
Do these seem like exercises you might want to try?
What works for you when you’re trying to get out of a rut?