Are You Suffering From Writer’s Blockdown?

Here’s the 5 things I’m doing to nurture my creativity

Photo by Dev Asangbamon Unsplash

One year. Can you believe it?

I’m at this strange point where I’ve forgotten what it’s like to nip over to a cafe to meet a friend, or grab a bus to the nearest mall for an afternoon shopping spree. Last night, I had a Covid-related mental breakdown in a dream. It had something to do with not getting to go to an all-you-can-eat island buffet, because pandemic.

Things are getting weird.

To add to it all, an article in the Guardian has been going around about Writer’s Blockdown. I had mixed reactions to reading it. Sadness, obviously, because so many fellow writers are struggling creatively. Also a sense of camaraderie, because now I know I’m not alone. As I mentioned in last year’s post about lockdown productivity, I’ve been going through extended periods of inability to write.

I have to admit, this camaraderie is sort of inspiring. In the Guardian article, author Linda Grant says this is “a once in a blue moon example of every writer being affected by exactly the same situation. Not even the second world war was the same, because men and women were affected differently. But we’re all affected by this.”

What kinds of stories are going to come out of lockdown? Keep in mind, this seclusion isn’t your run-of-the-mill hermetic writing escape that was planned by that one guy who’s obsessed with Walden and keeps complaining about his tiny NYC apartment.

This is collective isolation.

What does that mean? What does it look like? How do we move forward as creatives?

Here’s what I’m trying:

  1. Slow down
    I have been re-reading the sources I’d found for my productivity post. They’ve been helping me to remember that we’re in an unprecedented situation, and it doesn’t matter that we now have a year of experience under our belts. If anything, it’s even more imperative to give ourselves mental space.
  2. Read
    Okay, so this is a go-to regardless of global pandemics. But it’s easy to forget just how important reading can be for our creativity, especially right now, when we can’t go out into the world and experience those sparks of inspiration that we need to keep writing.
  3. Netflix
    If I’m feeling too drained to read, the next step is streaming. This is weird for me, because I always viewed watching TV as this unhealthy habit that could hinder creativity. I also once promised myself I wouldn’t let my future kids have too much screen time.

    Cue pandemic. As I mentioned above, we can’t go out and experience normal things. My newborn son can’t see faces, because masks. Neither can I. Neither can you, probably.

    I don’t have evidence for this, but I imagine that watching other people living normally (in albeit fictionalised environments), can help us reset our Covid-filled minds. That’s not to say that binging the entire Marvel universe is out of the question (that would be heresy), but I’ve been gravitating towards realistic comedies. Especially if they involve chatting in coffee shops. God, I miss sitting in coffee shops.

    Side note: Gilmore Girls has partially saved my sanity.
  4. Try new creative outlets – If you feel like it.

    This sort of goes against my Be Lazy Because Pandemic rules, but I’ve been itching to try out some new creative outlets this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve been stuck in Writer’s Blockdown. Maybe it was my pregnancy hormones. But something has been driving me to be creative in other ways, like publishing on Medium and starting a new Youtube channel.

    So if you want to use your writing time to learn web design, go for it. This kind of freedom isn’t only a creative outlet, but a form of self-care. Maybe, by doing what you want, you’re making space for your writing gears to start running again.
  5. Guard Your Space

    So this may have been a crutch for me, and maybe you didn’t have this problem, but I always did my best work while sitting in a cafe. I was so much more focused and productive in a public space, because home meant food in the kitchen, a dog to cuddle, TV to watch, and chores to do.

    Now that I can’t surround myself with the angelic aroma of espresso (my coffee maker just doesn’t cut it), I need to find other ways to create a productive space. This has been pretty much impossible, since my husband is working from home and baby stuff has taken over every square inch of our lives, but my goal for the next month is to declutter a small area designated solely to creative output.

    Concurrently, I’m also getting back into my usual morning writing/creativity time. (The one upside of a baby who doesn’t sleep at night is that he is zonked out in the A.M.)

What’s sadly funny is that in 2019, these tips may have looked easy to pull off, and almost a cop-out to real productivity. But now we know the real effects of isolation.

In the Guardian article, science fiction writer Jon Courtenay Grimwood says, “It’s weird as all hell. We spent our lives saying if only we could be locked away in a cave then inspiration and deadlines would be no problem and then it happens and it’s a disaster.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Have you been dealing with writer’s blockdown? How have you been managing it? Share below and help out a fellow creative!

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