like a whole hive of bees that become comforting white noise instead of a savage warning, persistent sting of pain from not putting your words to the “page.” Words are powerful. Your words matter.
The summer after fifth grade I got a desk in my bedroom. This is the same summer I was asked to watch a full episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation before announcing that I didn’t like it. The summer after fifth grade I became a serious writer. I began writing a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. Much of this came about because I’d just started liking the show and it was going off the air in one more season. If you don’t know much about the show there is a race of aliens called the Borg and when they assimilate someone into their collective they repeat one line, “Resistance is futile.”
I feel this way as a writer. Well, as a human being. Resistance of the things I need to be healthy is futile, but sometimes it’s a lot easier than accepting, engaging, and pursuing. I don’t know about you but writing keeps me healthy. I write to live – to be alive. However, I have been resisting a lot lately. Writing is a call I have on my life but there are seasons where I push it away.
As writers and creative beings, how do we stop resisting what we need to be fully, well, us?
Things that fuel my resistance –
Social Media. As writers, we use social media in many positive ways. I keep up with readings in my area, stay in touch with my creative community that spreads around the country/world, promote things, and share writing. However, if I’m bored or lonely, I scroll when I want to be writing. I flip through a feed, click through Instagram, and strain my eyes on Twitter. I never get to the point of pouring out of myself but instead overfill with things that are of little value to my creative life.
Fears. I am naturally a worrier. I have to work hard to keep my head in the right place, sift through the clutter in my mind, and focus on what is true. Imagination can help in writing. Fears and anxiety lead to exhaustion and if I’m not fueling them into my writing they weigh down my life.
Isolation. Okay, we’re writers. Solitude is in some form necessary. In fact, if I don’t have enough time to be quiet and alone, I can’t daydream enough to hear my creativity. However, if I am not engaging my friends that are creative, that are writing, that are seeking to help the world with their words; it is much easier for me to resist.
Fatigue. I struggle with chronic illness, but even the healthiest individual finds themselves fueling with caffeine and having to prioritize the spurts of energy they do receive. We get short periods of time to ourselves each day and have so many ways we want to fill it. The majority of the time I choose to veg out — YouTube, Netflix, (or read fan fiction) and then feel guilty that I’m not pursuing something that is “of use” or that I’m more passionate about.
Change is not fun most of the time. Even good change can be difficult at first. Resistance can become more comfortable and safe. So how do we get our creative “feet” to move?
Things that help me break free of a block —
Watch movies or read books out loud. I love classic Hollywood movies. The writing is amazing and the language is rich. I love movies I’ve seen a million times — each one is like a comfort blanket or a childhood friend you haven’t talked with in a while. Go see a movie by yourself in the movie theater. You’d be surprised how it gets your creative juices flowing. Read poetry out loud. Going to a play also creates the same excitement inside of my spirit.
Nap. Okay. This one might feel more like a trick. However, naps help me. Nap in moderation. I will work on something for a while in my head before drifting off to sleep. That time before awake turns to sleep can be helpful and precious.
Go to a reading. Take a notebook. You’ll be amazed at how someone else’s creativity can inspire your own literary work.
Do a writing prompt. You can create your own prompt or search for one online. Prompts are a great cure for writer’s block. In addition, they can push and stretch the boundaries of your creativity by helping you to discover new strengths in your craft.
Take a walk. Being surrounded by nature helps me tremendously. I also get creative thoughts in the shower.
Join a writing group. Be around people that will encourage you. Writing groups create accountability for your literary projects.
Start a project. Last summer, I did an art project where I had to float in a sensory deprivation tank and then create. I had to write two poems each day. The first could be positive, negative, or anywhere in between. The second, had to be positive. It was during a difficult season and over the span of a month I did this to see if both poems would eventually be positive. In the end, I met my goal and had lots to show for it.
Listen to music. Listening to music can get a writer’s creativity flowing in abundance. Music creates an atmosphere that elevates the senses.
Engage spiritually. When I am seeking God in a deep and quality driven way or worshipping more often, I tend to write more. I believe God the source of my creativity. So, if I’m resisting Him, I’m more likely to resist writing.
Let’s lift our heavy creative “feet” and seek to accept and engage. Resisting isn’t comfortable. It’s filling us up with more sand to keep us stuck.
Challenge: Here’s a challenge I’d like to put out and pursue with readers. Grab a notebook. If you’re like me, you have a million laying around your house. Every day date a line. Write one sentence at least. It can be a prompt you use later that you thought of, it can be something thoughtful about your day, or it can be something you’re grateful for. It can be a line of staccato words you paint into a poem or prose piece for later. Fill one line.
Are you resisting?
What are some of your “go to” ideas to unstick your creative stuck? How do you engage in the art of writing?