Top 10 Solutions for “Literary Constipation”

When I launched the blog in October 2013, I admit there was a bit of apprehension in terms of putting my works in the public domain. The apprehension did not come from the content itself, I was proud of my work and really looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and starting my work as a blogger. What concerned me was the ability to keep at it and to keep posting consistently without sacrificing quality.

How’s that for a little pressure for a new blogger?

But I was lucky in never really suffering from writer’s block in the 18 months since the launch. The more I wrote for the blog, the more I tapped into the inspiration I drew from the events around me, and in turn, the more I was trying to keep up with the flood of ideas that kept coming to me. And they still do.

However I have been experiencing a little bit of “irregularity” of words: the words are still coming, the ideas for stories keep coming and my inventory of blog posts in “first draft” is still growing. My challenge lately seems to be in taking a post and finding the right words to finish it and nail it like a gymnast dismounting from the balance beam for a “10.0”.

The passion is still there; the fire is still there; I still need to write as much as I need to eat, sleep and breathe. It is perhaps just a minor case of “literary constipation”. I just need to dig into my arsenal of solutions to keep it fresh, keep the momentum going and to keep coming back to my passion for writing with a fresh pair of eyes.

Here are my top 10 solutions for literary constipation:

10. Are you physically comfortable?
Are you hungry? Are you dehydrated? Are you too warm? Are you too cold? Is your chair comfortable? Distractions in our physical world can also create distractions in our creative world. Take a moment to take stock and adjust accordingly.

9. Switch your background music/silence
In some cases, I found that just changing my background music can help bring on a creative spurt. Sometimes, turning the music off and just writing to ambient noises (birds chirping, falling rain) or writing in complete silence can help the creative process. Switch it up.

8. Change creative media
Approximately 10 years ago, I was having a terrible case of writer’s block. However, the creative journey intuitively led me to an off-ramp where I started painting with acrylics for a few years. It was the break I needed to keep the creative juices flowing, to harness them in a different way, to still maintain a way to express myself and to still build confidence as an artist. Whether I am good at painting or not is in the eye of the beholder but it breathed new life into my writing when I decided to return.

7. Change topics
It is so easy to get stuck on a topic and to let our wheels spin, thus creating a deeper hole. Try switching to a lighter, easier topic for a few minutes. Write about your last fun vacation; build a story around your grocery list; update your bucket list; write about your writer’s block; write anything to change creative direction but the trick is to keep the words flowing. You may come back to the original topic refreshed and with a new approach.

6. Seek inspiration
It is no secret that viewing masterpieces is inspiring in itself. It really does not matter which medium the artist used but it is easy to get one’s creative buttons pushed following a visit to a museum, seeing a great opera or a play, reading a good book or watching a brilliantly scripted television show. Similarly, enjoying a sunrise, a sunset, or any breathtaking view can lend itself to whispers of inspiration.

5. Take a break
I admit that one of life’s pleasures in my leisure time is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon nap. This pleasure is only heightened when I sometimes wake up refreshed, to the serendipity of an “aha!” moment of inspiration and the right words to tie together or to complete one of the pieces I am working on.

4. Have a chat with someone
I have found that when I get stuck, chatting with someone has proven helpful. By parking the topic of the written work and engaging in a conversation on a completely different topic, or several different topics, by the time I get back to the writing desk, I am able to approach the piece with a fresh pair of eyes and sometimes see the piece in a new light.

3. Exercise
When I was training for my half-marathon last year, when I was deeply in the zone usually after running for an hour, my body would seemingly go into auto-pilot and my brain often went somewhere else – I am not sure where – but so many of my blog posts last summer were written while I was running, to the point that I needed to keep a pad of paper in the car and start jotting down reminder ideas when I arrived at the park and finished my run. I remember this same feeling during long bike rides as well. You do not need to be a hard core runner, a walk or engaging in light exercise is beneficial for body, mind and spirit.

2. Cleaning
Maybe it is just me, but when my house is tidy, I know I can more fully concentrate on my writing projects, without my mind drifting off to the tasks that await on my to-do list, notably the cleaning. This is not to say I have to have a perfect work environment for writing – I have written while doing home renovations – but let’s just say that when the dust bunnies are hopping around me, remaining focused can be a challenge.

1. Step away from the project (even if just for a few minutes)
The common thread to all of the ideas above is to step away from the writing project, even for a few minutes. I find that remaining in the “stuck” phase is hard on one’s confidence with every passing minute. I find the key to getting out of the rut is to keep the creative juices flowing in other ways, see results in other ways, and step by step, confidence will rebuild.

I have no worries that when I least expect it, inspiration will find me and whisper the right words at the right time that will make me yell out “Oh! Paper!” I will almost guarantee as well that those words will come at the most inopportune moment… they usually do!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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3 Comments

Filed under Humour, Writing

3 responses to “Top 10 Solutions for “Literary Constipation”

  1. Good advice. I think points 1 and 5 are especially important: giving yourself a chance to take a mental breather and then come back to the project with fresh eyes can make all the difference between frustration and productivity.

    • Hello D.I.
      Thank you very much for reading and for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.
      You do indeed raise valid points. It does become a delicate balancing act in knowing when to stick with it and knowing when to step away, even for just a few minutes, to gain that fresh perspective. Hopefully with time, that intuition for dealing with writer’s block develops and we become better writers in the long run for it.
      Cheers
      Andre

  2. henriettamross14

    Some great points, I don’t often think about the physical aspects and the environment around me, perhaps I need to start.

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