Too many of your posts start with an apology for not having been around of late? The joy you first brought to blogging now a distant memory?
Looks like a case of blogger’s block. Don’t worry… there is a cure.
It’s largely a matter of making friends with your creative mind. The reason so many of us find this difficult is that our education has trained us to respond to problems only with linear, rational, conscious thought.
Willpower, discipline, and good old-fashioned work may squeeze another blog post out of you but to produce words effortlessly, to connect with the joy and optimism and inspiration which makes it all worthwhile, to be as good as you can be, you need to know how to nurture abstraction and your hard-working subconscious.
First off, stop focusing on your block and start thinking about establishing flow. Flow is that delectable condition where all we writers have to do is turn up at the page and get ‘em down. Below are nine tried-and-tested methods – four daily practices, five writing practices – for keeping in flow, not just for the next blog post but for the rest of your writing life.
Establishing Flow Part One – Writing Practices
- Understand the writing process. Any piece of writing moves through distinct, though not always separate, phases. Delay the actual writing for as long as you can, until you can’t wait to get at it. At a minimum, never sit down to write until you have your beginning, your ending, and your research notes in place.
- Change your time frame. A blogger feels like the deadline is always now but this is a false pressure. It’s far more important to write something worthwhile than to post today just for the sake of it. Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.
- Drop your standards. Wherever there is block, there is fear. “I can’t say that.” “What if people laugh?” “This is garbage.” The only way to get beyond that inner voice is to give yourself permission to be bad.
- Know when to hold on and when to let go. The thing about the unconscious is that it needs time to percolate some ideas (you know what they say about watched pots). You can’t bully the unconscious into producing on demand and that’s why every writer needs a physical, automatic task to turn to when focused, rational thought is not getting the goods.
- Leave a little ink in the well. This one from Hemingway. Don’t finish your day with your writing tasks complete. Stop in the middle of a sentence. Tomorrow, when you sit back down, you will pick up immediately from where you left off, without any time-wasting faffing about or tortuous analysis of what you’re doing and why.
Establishing Flow Part Two – Daily Practices
- Consciously fill the well. Too many bloggers, holed up “working” or surfing, are locking themselves away from new experiences, sights and insights — and then they wonder what’s become of their imagination’s sense of play.
- Read, read, read. Whatever kind of writing you aspire to do, however long you’ve been writing, however good you think you are, always search out and carefully read other writers that are good at what you aim to do.
- Get organized. All good writers have an organizational structure and a discipline that works for them – no matter how chaotic things might appear to others. So, right now, do whatever organizational task you’re currently leaving for later – tidy your desk, set up a filing system that works, write an outline – right now (The more you resist this task, the more you need to do it).
- Keep a notebook. Research has shown that creative people are creative because they respect the intuitions, ideas, snags on their attention that pass through all minds while less creative beings let them pass. Creative theorists call it capturing. The simplest, most effective capturing device is pen-and-paper, a notebook but you may prefer to use your phone. Fine, so long as it is something small enough to carry everywhere. Make as many entries as possible each day– ideas, quotes, snatches of overheard dialogue, feelings, description. You won’t use everything but you don’t want to miss anything.
Always remember that your blog is in service to you, not vice versa. Know your intentions and goals for your blog. Frame them within a plan that includes self-care – eating and sleeping well; time with your loved ones; plenty of fun and frolics and a routine that nurtures your creative side – or else you’re almost guaranteed to grind to a halt.