A creative block can be branded as many things. ‘Writers block’, ’blank stave syndrome’, ‘blank page syndrome’ and ‘why can’t I think of anything to write’. No matter what you call it, it is still a terrible thing. It is that daunting stage at the start of a project when your blank screen or blinding white piece of paper is staring you in the eyes and everything in your head seems to just melt. It can also occur mid-way through a project when you have no idea where to take it further. Here are my best tips to overcome writers block and be more productive than ever.
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
By this I don’t mean research how to overcome it because you’ve already done that and it landed you here. I mean research into what it is you’re doing. If you’re writing a book, look at 20 books of the same genre and jot down how each one begins. From there, you can take some ideas and find a way to write something. I recently wrote some music for a video game set in a medieval era. I had no idea how to start writing the tracks so I did my research. I looked into music that was written in the same era and took notes about everything. Musical techniques, scales, chords, instruments… Anything that I could take from it. Then when I came back to writing the tracks, I already had a backbone to use.
2. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
This is fairly self-explanatory but it is an important point to bring up. Distractions are anything that aren’t the project you’re working on at that moment; your phone, youtube, social media, your fourth cup of coffee or your pet cat. Try and limit all of them. I used to really struggle with procrastination when I was starting a project. I ended up leaving my phone in another room and turning the Wi-fi off on my laptop so I had no connection (not a good idea if you need the internet to work). This helped immensely because all I had to do was to write something. Now it has become more of a habit so I don’t need to take the same steps to avoid procrastinating.
3. AVOID COMPARISON
This may seem slightly contradictory to the first point, but let me explain. This point most applies to the beginning of a project. I have seen many people abandon a project because they feel it is inadequate when they had been working on it for just a few days. The problem they had, is they were comparing it to completed professional work. What they didn’t understand is that those pieces they were listening to had to start somewhere. They won’t have always sounded as good as they ended up. So by this point I don’t mean to never use a reference track, or don’t aspire to create a piece as good as something else. I mean don’t look at the high production quality of these big companies or professionals and expect to have that from the off.
4. INSPIRE YOURSELF
No matter what it is you do (within reason), there is someone on YouTube who talks about it and is doing well. Find that person and subscribe to them. One of the best things to push yourself to work harder is seeing someone doing well at what you’re doing. If I hit a creative wall, I have a series of people I will turn to watch to help me out. Again, this may sound contradictory to the last point but hear me out… The people I watch are by no means professionals. They are just people sharing their journey and sharing the tips and tricks they discover along the way. Not all necessarily musicians or composers but just people who are doing well. It makes me want to get straight back to work and just get something down.
Which leads nicely onto the last point and most effective way to overcome creative block:
5. JUST WRITE ANYTHING
Easily the best way to overcome a creative block is to just put anything, literally. If you’re writing some music and don’t know what to write next, just let your fingers go crazy on the piano and see what happens. Most of it will get deleted, but there might be something within the chaos that is exactly what you were looking for. The same thing if you’re writing an essay, book, article, or any document. A great thing to try is the ‘5 minute challenge’. This is where you give yourself 5 minutes to let loose on the computer keyboard with only one rule; your hands are not allowed to stop typing at any point. It can be amazing what you might find amongst the gibberish that you will produce.
These are my best tips to overcome writers block. They work for me and I am sure they will for you. Have anything different on your list? Let me know!