Curing the Evil Abyss That is the Creative Block

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Sometimes, my Facebook feed is a pool of wonderful answers to questions that I’ve put on hold and demoted to the back of my mind. But then again, most of the time, it’s a painful sight of articles that don’t deviate far from the typical self-help topics such as “20 things You Should Stop Doing in Your Twenties”. Thankfully, I came across an article today that was more indulging to read.

Creative block for a self-professed writer like me is a depressing problem. I stare at a blank screen, as if it served to entertain me, and after an hour, you can count on the fact that I haven’t exactly gotten any further than that. And while my elbows and palms tire from shouldering the weight of my empty, inspiration-lacking mind, I fool myself to thinking that “brain food” will force an emporium of ideas. A cup of coffee and one PB&J sandwhich later, I come to find that the only thing that seemed to benefit from that was my tummy. So anyway, I came across about the article: How to Break Through Your Creative Block: Strategies from 90 of Today’s Most Exciting Creators and I highly suggest that you read it. It’s very intellectually stimulating and it should help you a great deal if you experience one any time soon. My particular favorite (and the author of the article agrees with this as well) is from Jessica Hagy:

How can you defeat the snarling goblins of creative block? With books, of course. Just grab one. It doesn’t matter what sort: science fiction, science fact, comic books, textbooks, diaries (of people known or unknown), novels, telephone directories, religious texts — anything and everything will work.

Now, open it to a random page. Stare at a random sentence.

[…]

Every book holds the seed of a thousand stories. Every sentence can trigger an avalanche of ideas. Mix ideas across books: one thought from Aesop and one line from Chomsky, or a fragment from the IKEA catalog melded with a scrap of dialog from Kerouac.

By forcing your mind to connect disparate bits of information, you’ll jump-start your thinking, and you’ll fill in blank after blank with thought after thought. The goblins of creative block have stopped snarling and have been shooed away, you’re dashing down thoughts, and your synapses are clanging away in a symphonic burst of ideas. And if you’re not, whip open another book. Pluck out another sentence. And ponder mash-ups of out-of-context ideas until your mind wanders and you end up in a new place, a place that no one else ever visited.

Marvelous.”

Jessica Hagy is right in too many ways. Most of my “writing bursts” (those moments of non-stop word vomit that actually make sense) are urged by multiple sources: modern fiction, a song lyric, random slogans of billboard ads, blog hopping, instagram captions.

I actually read books whenever I feel a writer’s block coming on. Some people might render it as a strange habit that I highlight the books that I read (or maybe that’s just my paranoia talking). Like I was gearing up for some kind of exam. But we all have our own queer habits – so let’s not point fingers. Anyway, sometimes, the stuff I highlight are not even that quotable or life-changing – they’re mostly attractive phrases – words sewn together that look good and amplify the whole reading experience. I mean, I don’t know about you, but a line from David Nicholls’ “One Day” shoved me into a state of nostalgia about my previous encounters with love and brought about this crazy writing spree in my private journal.

So yeah. Grab a book or two, do a bit of mind-wandering and allow it to take you places. Who knows what creative genius you might end up with.

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