Writer’s Block

Cover photo credit: Adam Foster, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately when it’s come to blogging. I’ve moved, have been working a lot, and felt like I didn’t have anything to say. Since the major reasons I’ve been blogging were (a) to form a habit and (b) to get better at writing, this was no bueno.

What I did

I decided that maybe the type of writing and content was holding me up, not the act of writing itself, so I went for a change. I already write articles on articles (or tutorials) for work, but that comes far easier to me since it’s usually explaining or analyzing something. Writing something for myself was, for some reason, far more difficult for the past month.

Instead of writing journal-style posts (as I typically do), I figured that I needed to do something more abstract or to write fiction. In another attempt to make myself uncomfortable, I decided to go with poetry over short stories or vignettes.

I always felt like I’d never been very good at poetry, even though I used to write a fair amount in college (guilty secret as a Chem major, I know). I dug out an old notebook full of random writing, drivel, and poems (kind of like this blog at times wink ), and read through some things I’d written.

So I actually wasn’t bad at poetry – most of it was just meh. There were a couple of good poems here or there, but a lot of whiny ones in between (“life is pain”, “I miss sleeping”, etc). However, I remembered how much I liked writing it and trying to find creative means to say a lot in a simple way.

So poetry it was. I figured the more abstract language would be a different challenge and maybe thinking in a different track would help.

What I found

It turns out that engaging my brain in a new challenge was exactly what I’d needed. Daring myself to think and write differently helped to make me feel more creative and start putting pencil to paper (so to speak).

I churned out about 10 different poems over a week or so once I started writing. Some are pretty long, some are sonnets, some are one stanza – the point was that I was writing something. I also started looking at images on Unsplash or Flickr to inspire poems about the subjects of the photo.

It’s been refreshing to write short poems like this, and just to feel like it’s okay to create something, good or bad. I’m going to try to continue to write at least one poem every three days, which feels less daunting than making sure I write a complete post every couple of weeks since a poem can be a few words or as long as I want.

I’m not ready to share most of what I’ve written, but I don’t feel as compelled to with this kind of writing – I try to make myself feel uncomfortable, but that might take things to a new level. For now, I’m just happy to remind myself that I enjoy different kinds of writing and that each can help me to think in different ways.