Writer’s block is an emotion. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the millions of writers who experience it as soon as a creative streak hits a literary wall, and there’s no idea, concept, or plot bulldozer to help them through it. It’s a simultaneous mix of disgust, fear, anger, and anticipation in a jar with an unremovable top. What’s worse is that one never knows just how long it takes to break the jar, and the frustration could stifle writers indefinitely. Add the stress of shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, and other isolation during a global pandemic, and the inclination to create can quickly become a memory. If this happens to be your current situation, take heart. There’s hope. Here are four things you can try to “move the block.”
Create a playlist
Art inspires art. When words are lost to us, it often helps to lean upon the words of others. Curate inspiration by building a customized playlist on your favorite streaming platform. Reach into the depths of your music chops and group songs – old and new, regardless of genre – into a themed playlist. Cap your playlist at 30 songs and listen to them while you busy yourself or lounge around the house. To keep it creative, all your songs should fall under the same theme for different reasons. For example, a “Love” playlist might have staples like Luther Vandross’ song and Ludacris’ “Georgia.” Luther was romantic love personified, while Ludacris showed hometown love in his addictive anthem. You will be incredibly surprised by what happens to your idea center when you hear different artists expressing the same emotion in different ways.
Record your “idle” thoughts
A stream of consciousness, when effectively captured, can offer the best ideas. Use your phone or computer’s voice recorder as the catchall for your brainstorms. While you’re in the shower, don’t sing. Talk and record, with your phone or computer at a safe distance. Right before you drift off to sleep, record your ideas before they become dreams. Wherever you find yourself occupied in an activity that doesn’t include writing, have your recorder close. Play the recordings back whenever you feel like refocusing on writing. The sound of your own voice may just trigger your center. You never know which thought will become your next project.
Find your tribe
Writing is a solitary practice. It takes reflection, time, and attention. It’s helpful, however, to find those like minds who are also in search of the spirit of creativity. Social media can come in handy for this. There are all types of writing and artistic accounts that offer prompts, videos of writers performing poetry or reading excerpts from their books, beautiful visual art, and/or humorous memes with equally interesting comments in response. Spending 10 to 15 minutes exploring these idea stores can transform your isolation into inspiration if you capture your initial and immediate reactions to the collective.
Combine the efforts
There are no rules for moving the block, and some writers’ needs are more complex than others. If you’re the complex type, turn the efforts up a notch. Create a playlist and play soft music in the background of your everyday activities while recording your thoughts. Spend time on social media finding your tribe and record your reactions to things you find interesting as you type. Be the inspiration you seek by adding some of the ideas you have recorded and found interesting to engage the collective on social media. Whatever works!
After shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, and forced isolation ends, the world will rebalance, and we’ll have to get back into the swing of things. If we return to the world, whatever it looks like hereafter, with a tangible grasp on our art, we may just be able to transform it again – without masks, gloves, and social distancing.
Tyauna Bruce is an educator, writer, and entrepreneur who lives and works in Washington, D.C. She believes in the Oxford comma, active verbs, and powerful one-liners. Tyauna has been craving publication ever since she read If Beale Street Could Talk. Her dream is to make it to the same bookshelf as James Baldwin.