When I get stuck these days, the first thing I do is be gentle with myself and stay calm. I remind myself that I had times like these, when I feared I would never write anything again. And sometimes those times were uncomfortably long. But, I wrote again. And the work that came after these periods of struggling with the writing have been some of my best and most interesting. I focus on trusting that the writing will happen, is happening, even if nothing is going on the page yet. Then, I move on to try different approaches to help. Here are three things that often have worked:
1. I commit to writing something, anything, every morning when I wake up, for a few weeks. I treat these as warm-ups for my creative brain, rather than writing I plan to use. In the beginning it is a struggle, but after about a week or so, it gets much easier.
2. I increase my reading. Usually I try to read something that deals with what I am writing about, or a craft book, earlier in the day, and then read something for pleasure before bed. Sometimes forgetting the writer and enjoying a book as a reader is as important and helpful.
3. I go for walks or runs (I have also heard of people who like swimming). Something in which your body is engaging in a rhythm. Sometimes I listen to craft audiobooks, or books on the writing life or the lives of artists, while walking.
In my case, these practices inevitably fade away after a while (life happens and I can’t keep it up). But I don’t see that as a problem. For me the motion between different approaches is a natural part of the process (as is not writing). When the time comes for me to try something else, I may alternate between the three above, or try something completely new. Then keep moving, keep living, keep writing.
—Ananda Lima, author of Mother/land (Black Lawrence Press, 2021)