Let’s face it – we’ve all been in a dark place called The Writing Slump. Writer’s Block is a phenomenon that happens to every writer at some point. When words start to escape you and ideas get stale, you need a reliable emergency kit for working through blockages and staying productive.

I plummet into the writing abyss of Writer’s Block when my mind is bogged down with a million different things, when I accidentally lose all hope in the piece I’m drafting or when the caffeine from my latte starts to wear off. To be honest, there are a million triggers that can send me straight to the writing slump but as a professional writer with constant deadlines looming, not writing is not an option!

How can you write yourself out of linguistic stagnation when taking a day or even a couple of hours off might not be an option?

Take a few deep breaths. If you find yourself torturing your pen or smashing your keyboard, close your eyes, let annoyance and frustration dissipate, and take a few deep breaths. Accept the situation with a serene mind and focus on getting back on the writing track. There’s nothing worse than savouring the emotions you might be feeling in times of a writing paralysis; rather, choose to tackle the blockage with concrete .

Fight the temptation to quit, because you won’t always have the luxury of taking long breaks or waiting for inspiration to kick in. The reality of writing – especially if you get paid to do it – is that you don’t have all the time in the world to polish off every sentence. Learning to combat writer’s block is key to becoming a successful professional writer.

Seek inspiration in the work of others. Is there a writer you find exceptionally talented or eloquent? Or a magazine you like skimming? Turn your attention to the content and style of fellow writers for fresh ideas, new phrases, and a spark.

Get caught up in technicalities. When your creative juices ebb, shift your focus to formatting, laying out your pages, assembling appendices. Writing is a multi-step endeavour that involves editing, fact-checking, revisions, approvals, research, and much more. Just because your word count isn’t growing, you can still be moving forward with your writing project.

Freewrite for two minutes. Zoom out your computer screen or open a new page in your notebook and write. Jot down everything that comes to mind on your topic. Even if you’re repeating yourself or words don’t go well together, refrain from judgement until the time is up. This well-known writing exercise can help ideas and sentences coalesce into a unique creation.

Tell a friend what you want to write – but currently can’t. Alternating between different modes of expression can help reset your brain. If your friend really listens, maybe they’ll even offer feedback. If no friend is available in the moment of a writing crisis, give your imaginary audience an elevator pitch about your topic.

Go back to the basics. Why are your drafting this piece? What’s the message you’re attempting to convey? Oftentimes, we get bogged down in perfect grammar, elegant style, active verbs, and paragraph transitions that we forget what we’re trying to say. In desperate times of a writing slump, be ready to sacrifice your eloquence (and polish it off when you ).

No matter how dissatisfying or dark your writing abyss looks like, it’s just another setback you need to power through. There is, probably, no single magic recipe for breaking out of a writing slump – so make your own soup.


Screenshot_20181023-160649Olga Ivanova is an Edmonton-based communications professional and writer with a knack for storytelling.

This article was written by Rachael Heffernan, writer and researcher with The Drawing Board.

 

If you’re feeling like you don’t spend enough time on your creative self, and you’re getting tired of the same-old-same-old dinner and a movie, you may be a perfect candidate for Sits.

Sits, you say?

Yes, Sits.

Sits began (as far as I know) in my partner’s family. Because they all live far apart during the year, in the last few days of summer they have a ritual they’ve dubbed Sits. They each spend some time scouting out the best places around the property, and then, in one glorious day, grab a couple of bottles of wine and some folding chairs and trek their way to each spot. They sit, they drink, they chat, and they admire the beauty that can only be found in The Middle of Nowhere, Ontario. It’s a beautiful tradition all about spending time in undiscovered places with people you love.

The idea of Edmonton Sits came out of this ritual with a couple of little twists to make it more appropriate for city life, and, as a bonus, orient it towards accomplishing the dreams of two author-wannabes. Here’s how it works:

  1. You and your posse of creative minds go out on the town armed with good pens, notebooks, and no more than one book each for inspiration. You may trade books with one another as the night goes on.
  2. Go to a place you’ve never been before. This can be in nature or can be somewhere indoor that has beverages and appetizers.
  3. Everyone orders drinks OR a timer is set  – and here’s the crutch of the game – you must write as much as you can for the duration of one drink, or leave before the timer runs out.
  4. Then you move on to the next location.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for as long as you please.

My partner and I went out and it was one of the best date nights we had had in a very long time. Getting to spend some time joyfully writing together and sharing our silly stories and poems was hugely refreshing. The unexpected side effect was that I felt it activated my creativity in a whole new way – armed with my notebook in my purse, for the next few nights we went out I ended up furiously scribbling poetry amongst the baskets of french fries and pints of beer on the table.


Here are some of my favourite poems from our adventures:

BEER

Lemon half moon

Bubbly balloons

Sittin’ under Edmonton skies

Burdened down I ain’t

Pickin’ at the paint

Not knowin’ when I’m gonna die


HEIGHTS

My nephew toddled softly

He would adamantly walk

And stoop and stop and bend and stretch

And talk and talk and talk.

He’d pick the little clovers

And stare down at the grass

He’d grab pink rocks and stash them

He’d point out bits of glass

And I’d walk and stop and hurry

I’d take him by the hand

All I could see were stop signs

While his eyes were on the land.