Boy, this year’s been a doozy, hasn’t it? Pandemic, elections, loved ones passing on, masks and a plethora of restrictions, because, well…pandemic. To say I never thought anything like this would happen in my lifetime is not only cliche but a terrible understatement. At times, I’ve felt dragged down. Helpless. Unmotivated and, yes, utterly uninspired. But when writing is your craft, when creating is what keeps your blood flowing in the right direction, having a long stint of meh can really take a toll on not only your mental health but, of course, your art.
So, how do you move forward? How do you use the tools you have to get back that spark? Author Brianna Wiest (The Mountain is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage into Self-Mastery) says “the truth is when you feel uninspired, you either don’t know what you’re trying to say or you don’t know how to say it.” This is essentially what writers call writer’s block. You’re not stuck because you’re a terrible writer or your story sucks and nobody is ever going to read it, not in a billion years. You’re stuck because you’re too far in your own head.
I’m gonna say that again: You’re too far in your own head.
Otherwise known as overthinking, and trust me when I say your mind REALLY IS that powerful, being too far in your own head is the equivalent of walking into a circus ring, naked, with thousands of onlookers gasping in the stands. May be somebody’s jam, sure, but most of us would sink into the dust and never come out. When you’re stuck, you have an undue awareness of what you’re doing. I’m writing a story. For publication. It has to be good. It has to make sense. It has to have goal, motivation, conflict. It has to have the perfect black moment. It has to sell or no one will ever want to read me ever, ever, ever again.
This is fear, folks.
Yeah, you heard me. Good ol’ fear’s doing a tremendous number on your brain. And why shouldn’t he/she/it/they? Pandemic, elections, loved ones passing on, masks and a plethora of restrictions, because, well…pandemic. The world feels like it’s falling apart and you expect me to CREATE? Are you crazy? But what do we as artists know about ourselves? What can every artist across the planet nod their heads to when asked what happens when you stop doing your art?
If we don’t create, we change. And not for the better.
Fair enough? All right. So, what do we do to get out of our own heads? What do we do to set aside the number all the bad stuff in the world’s doing to our minds?
Writers, you need to read. Re-read books you love. Read books on your TBR list. Read books out of your comfort zone. Just. Read. For the love of your art. For the love of the language. For the love of understanding the human condition. For the love of discovering what works and what doesn’t. For the love of supporting other artists who go through the EXACT SAME STRUGGLES you do. Read and then…
Get to writing. Look, the story inside your head is there for a reason. It wants to be heard. Sounds a little like the Ring of Power (it wants to be found…dun dun duuuuun), okay, but when has writing ever been anything but a little bit of magic and a WHOLE lot of hard work? Here’s what you have to your advantage, too: emotions are HIGH right now. Channel them into your art. Don’t hold back the tears, the anger, the bursts of joy and plummets into sadness. All these emotions–these very real emotions add life to the page. They make real characters with real problems. Characters that stick with readers long after the last page.
Move forward, Artist, because you were given this gift for a reason.
You were meant to do this.
Don’t waste your gifts. Use them to make change for the good.
xoxo – Alyssia