By Lea Mercado
Web Content Assistant Manager
As a writer, times of inspiration and frustration often fluctuate. Unfortunately for us, the latter tends to be most prevalent. For artists of all kinds, whether they are painters, musicians, or creators of any kind, coming to a blazing halt in the middle of a project is inevitable. So, the question arises, what do you do when you can’t create?
I’ve struggled with writer’s block many times. As a matter of fact, that was the inspiration for this article. Over the course of my college career, I’ve learned a few tricks that help me overcome writer’s block through research, practice, and many conversations with my peers.
Read, Listen, Admire.
Any time I feel uninspired, the first thing I do is look to those who inspire me. As a journalist, I like to browse through publications that focus on issues that I am passionate about. Doing so often motivates me to do deeper research into current events, which spark ideas for stories.
My favorites are:
19th News, a new women-led newsroom that invests in the stories of women, women of color, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Prism Reports, a BIPOC-led newsroom that reports on culture, equality, and immigration issues.
Of course, national and publications such as New York Times and Texas Tribune as well.
Regardless of your preferred art form, any creator can benefit from this exercise. Listen to your favorite band or study your favorite art piece; inspiration can strike at any moment.
Lower Your Standards
Though this may seem counterintuitive, lowering the standard of what you create is a very liberating process. I find that my writer’s block typically hits when I’m facing a strict deadline. Not because of the deadline itself, but because I want my piece to be perfect by the deadline. But in reality, the expectation of perfection can induce creative paralysis.
To combat paralysis, you have to let go of perfection and simply begin. For some, this may look like creating an outline for the project. For others, merely putting words onto a page, whether they flow logically or not, is a step in the right direction.
Above all, remember this: Progress over perfection. Always.
Change Your Environment
As schools and workplaces shut down due to the pandemic, most Americans found themselves working from home. Though working from home poses many benefits, it has its drawbacks as well.
One of the most significant drawbacks was that it blurred the boundaries between work and home life. As someone who lives in student housing, my bedroom became my workspace. Because of the lack of boundaries, it became difficult to focus on my work because I would get distracted by laundry, dishes, and the temptation to crawl in bed and take a nap.
By changing environments and setting productive intentions, my distractions subsided, and I was able to complete my task. I suggest going somewhere that inspires you. For instance, if I was writing about the student community, going to the campus library allowed me to immerse myself into my story and break out of my block.
What is beautiful about this exercise is that it can take you places you would never think to go and explore spots in the community that you can return to whenever you need some inspiration.
These tools help me tremendously, and I hope they can help you too. Remember, all you have to do is start.
Featured Image by Lea Mercado