How to conquer writer’s block (when that whole ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ thing isn’t exactly in the budget).
Writer’s block is a bitch. Don’t bother fighting her. Try it — I dare you. Scour the internet for tips and tricks to banish her. Play your classical music as loud as you can. Run endless, idiotic laps around your living room until your neighbor below takes a broom to the ceiling. Sign up for Tinder (again). Reluctantly agree to a BDSM relationship with some married dude just so you can panic and run away at the last minute. Because there has to be a story there…right, right? Wrong.
I would’ve tried anything to cure my writer’s block. But unfortunately when your body and your mind aren’t in sync, your art will always reflect that. And I’ve had no art to speak of for months now, so something needed to change.
If you’re anything like me (young and miserably broke), then Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love option isn’t exactly in the budget. So with a frugal approach, here’s what I found:
DO: Change your environment.
Do you usually write at your kitchen table? Grab your laptop and go sit elsewhere. Maybe you’ll find your muse outside. Personally, the great outdoors is not such a great option for me when it comes to outsmarting writer’s block. I live in Los Angeles, and my fear of human interaction outweighs my love of nature. So I love writing in bed. If you’re the same, try rearranging your bedroom furniture. Ideally something Feng Shui with your bed facing the door.
But why stop there? Go right ahead and rearrange your entire apartment. Who knows what you’ll find under that couch! You might as well reorganize your bookshelf while you’re at it. If you’re looking for a good excuse to avoid writing, I highly suggest this one. It took me six hours.
While we’re on the topic of change — change your personal appearance. Sometimes a haircut or change of color can do wonders for your mood or self-esteem. Me? I decided to go blonde. A decision I immediately regretted, as I have always been a brunette. But at any rate, it was a fun move, and it definitely shook things up a bit.
DON’T: Make a permanent change.
During a similar bout of writer’s block a few years ago, I thought a tattoo was a fun idea, and I’d been meaning to get something that represented me and my closest friends. I decided arranging their initials in a small space on the inside of my arm would be cute.
I learned (after the fact) the arrangement of said initials spells leg in French. I now have the word leg tattooed on my arm.
DO: Have a drink.
Hell, have a few. Take the edge off. Relaaax. Then try to write something. Anything. It doesn’t matter. The words you’re putting down on paper when you’re tipsy may not be the greatest words ever written, but they’re words. And that’s what’s important. Sometimes I just like to spew all the venom that the week has stirred up. Nothing is spelled right, nothing is coherent, but I usually feel better and no one will ever be on the receiving end.
DON’T: Get drunk.
Being drunk is unproductive. You’re sloppy and can’t remember shit. Not to mention, if you’re over the age of 27, your hangover will last 13 days.
DO: Travel. Get outside your bubble.
I chose Ojai, California. It’s a 60-minute drive. It was a strange experience, to say the least. I spent a lot of time eating and feeling weird and alone. But somehow it was liberating. I spent zero time writing. But a lot of time thinking about writing. So I felt like I was getting closer…
DON’T: Leave home without a plan.
Throwing your inhibitions to the wind and jumping into your car may sound like a great idea, but if you live in a city like Los Angeles, failing to properly plan a day trip can put a serious dent in your wallet — not to mention, it’s dangerous. You don’t need some crazy type-A itinerary mapped out. But a quick Google search might save you the stress of dealing with outrageous room rates or, worse, no vacancies at all. So make sure you have a place to crash to avoid sleeping in your car — although that could make a good story…
DO: Meditate, preferably outside.
Blah, blah, mind/body connection, blah.
During my travels in Ojai, I came across a trail called Meditation Point. The meditation trail was, as promised, serene and beautiful. But the 104° heat and the gnat stuck to my lip gloss distracted me from inner peace. So I left after five minutes….
Suffice it to say, another unsuccessful attempt to cure my writer’s block. But it’s worth another shot.
DON’T: Underestimate the power of company.
As great as it is to get some one-on-one time with yourself, the power of good company always seems to knock me right out of my writer’s block slump — even if only temporarily. Ever have one of those friends who brings out the funniest side of you? It’s called having good comedic chemistry and it’s why I think actors like Andy Samberg always make movies with the same group of guys. Whenever I’m stuck on an idea, I have one friend I always call. Not necessarily to talk about the idea itself but to talk about anything. We usually end up laughing for 30 minutes straight, and I leave the conversation feeling slightly more inspired.
DO: A cleanse.
I knooow, I know. But I think we (I) really underestimate how badly the crap we consume affects our mental state. At the time of this writing, I’m on day seven and truly do feel a sense of renewal.
*Be advised — days one through four you’ll be a heinous animal who’d murder someone for a Cheeto.
DON’T: Throw in the towel.
I once came across a blog that offered a bunch of mediocre writer’s block suggestions, followed by an ending note that said, “If you still can’t write, then you’re probably not a real writer.” I was outraged. I couldn’t disagree with this more. If you cannot find it in you to write, just say so. It’s just not there. But it will be.
DO: Be kind to yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t written in 12 hours, 12 days or 12 months. Trust that this part of yourself is lying dormant inside you. And it’ll come out when it’s ready, no matter how many times you drag that couch across the living room.