“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou
Writer’s block is the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. Essentially it’s a creative blockage. The truth is there's no such thing as "Writer's Block," as a whole. Instead, there are several different components that lead to feeling like you just can’t get the words out. Each type of creative slowdown has a different cause and that means they each have a different solution too. Don’t get overwhelmed though. We’re here to help you take those causes apart to better understand them and undo that block. Here are some tips on how to treat these difficulties.
- Blankety, blankety, blank. Let’s guess. You have a blank page because you keep writing and erasing. You have no clue what to write about, or what story you want to tell. You are stopped before you even start. These are real difficulties for creative writers and it’s okay, we’ve all been there. What’s beautiful about poetry is that you write your own story. No one sees the “mistake” but you. You can always go back and revise your work later, so don't worry about writing something “unworthy of the page.” Just keep writing and writing and writing whatever comes to mind and stop erasing. The words are already in your brain. They just need a little shove to work their way out.
- Let it flow. Let it flow. Those ideas never bothered you anyway. There are just so many ideas swirling in your mind it’s hard to commit to a coherent subject, right? Think of how each of your ideas work individually and then try to connect them to one another. Think about how each of your ideas take form. Do they deserve different attention from one another and how? Think about the places your ideas come alive. Should all your ideas be in one poem? Maybe they should be in a series instead. Just get these ideas down on paper and you will come back to them and sort them out. Carrying a small notebook around, one that fits in your back pocket, is a good idea so you always have an outlet for your spontaneous ideas and thoughts. It’s also a good idea to create a flowchart to keep track of how all your ideas connect so that the your poem makes sense.
- Tale as old as time. If you feel as though you cannot get anything down on paper because you’re anxious about how you will perceive those ideas in the future, then that’s the perfect time to take a pause and just relax. Remember that you are constantly growing. An idea that you thought was amazing yesterday might not have the same effect on you in two weeks. And that’s perfectly fine! Live in the present. Close your eyes and use your five senses to help you gather how you feel. Use that to write. Every day you continue to grow and so does your art. Later on you can reflect on how the ideas you have now shaped who you are. Own your ideas now. You’ll thank yourself later.
- You, yourself, and poetry. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your work sucks, and it paralyzes you. Thinking this way can interfere with your positive energy. It can stop you from making any choices because you keep worrying about how someone will interpret your work later. Focus on your writing, and how it makes you feel. You write for yourself, not for anyone else so who cares what others think?! If you let yourself breathe through your poetry and truly love what you write, people will sense your passion when they read your work regardless of whether or not they like it personally.
- Slow and steady wins the...page. Do you find yourself trying forever to discover the right verb for one line or going back and forth attempting to craft one of those “knock your socks off” metaphors? Sometimes the best work takes the longest to create because you just need time to figure it out. It’s perfectly okay to take a long time fussing over specific sections of your piece. It’s totally not okay just to quit because you doubt yourself or things don’t seem like they’re the best they could be. You can be your own worst enemy if you put so much pressure on yourself--and your work may suffer for it. Take time with your work and always break to collect your thoughts. You’ll get there at your own pace.
- Write a Poem! It’s a fun idea to write a poem that talks about “writer's block.” Write about how difficult it is to write. Take advantage of those moments of unclarity and reach into what is blocking you. Share your poem on PowerPoetry so you and your fellow poets can commiserate together.