You are in your ideal workspace.
And it’s set to perfection. The lights, the heat, the ambient noise, the smell — everything is exactly how it should be.
Listening to some binaural beats or some instrumental jazz or some baroque music on your headphones, you are ready to get some serious writing done.
There is an idea in your head, and it’s crying to be released.
You sit down, take a deep breath, and start typing away as fast as you can because you are going berserk just by keeping those ideas in your head. You heed its cries and agree that it needs to find a new home other than that mushy matter inside your skulls.
And for a second, things are going swimmingly— and you are so proud of yourself, as you damn well should.
Words are flowing, sentences are forming, paragraphs are emerging.
The Muse is looking kindly upon you today.
* * *
Until it doesn’t.
Nine and a quarter sentence into your high-spirited typing frenzy, a neural entanglement sets in, throwing you and your thought processes into a state of cognitive lethargy.
The ideas begin to vaporize, and nineteen seconds later, your mind is at a state of total nothingness.
Damn it, Muse.
You pause for thought, hoping for a flicker.
For some form of inner dialogue.
A respite from the mental hebetude.
No thoughts. No inner dialogues. No respite.
Nothing. Blank. Nada.
* * *
Congratulations — You Have Arrived
You are now at that sweet spot — a mysterious neighborhood called the ‘writer’s block,’ — where anyone who has ever tried to write anything of substance has found or are still finding themselves in from time to time.
Or if you don’t believe there’s such a thing as writer’s block because Seth Godin said so, let’s just call it ‘creative burnout,’ and move past the semantics, shall we?
And while we are at it, let’s also see what happens next.
Well, that’s simple because when you find yourself in this ghost town for ideas, what happens next usually means one thing.
It’s Time for War
Cut-off from your creative juices, you turn to brute force, seeking to exert your mind into an ‘aha’ moment.
How do you do that? You do one of these things. Or if you are a pro, some weird combination of it.
- You close your eyes as tight as you can hoping that you can catch an idea floating around in those moving specks of lights.
- You look up and try ridiculously hard not to blink hoping that you can star (ceiling) gaze an idea into your head that way.
- You fidget with the keyboard and start typing blissful nonsense to lure The Muse back.
- You start swiveling in your chair hoping that amid the dizzying rush, an idea will pop into your head and rekindle your thought processes.
But soon it proves to be elusive.
All your silly attempts to seduce The Muse back fails, giving you no option but to give up and surrender to the dark forces.
* * *
Hello, Time Suck
Unable to make any headway with your writing, you resort to idling away your time, yearning for a spark.
And before long, you are an hour and a half into a staring contest with the text cursor on your computer screen.
A crooked game stacked almost invariably in the blessed “blinking thing’s” favor.
Try These Instead
Instead of wasting valuable hours trying to exert yourself into writing something, know when to change your tactics, incubate your ideas, and refresh your mind.
- Go for a run. Running or doing any aerobics exercise such as cycling helps you to improve your cognitive abilities due to the increase in blood flow which increases the amount of oxygen and synapses firing up in your brain. There’s no dosage on what distance you should run or for how long— a quick five-kilometer jog does the trick for me — but depending on your level of fitness, even a single kilometer or two could be more than enough.
- Take a long, warm shower. A long, warm shower is a fantastic way to surface those ideas burrowed deep in your subconscious. The moment the water starts to run, it distracts you from the ideas you are trying so hard to summon in the first place and puts you into a relaxed state of mind. This, along with the influx of dopamine, helps your mind to wander as it registers all those ideas and insights that were being elusive to you when you tried to be too hard on yourself earlier.
- Take a coffee nap. Sometimes the reason behind your creative slump is that your mind is tired and needs a little boost. One of the ways you can do that is by taking a coffee nap where you down an espresso and sleep (or if that’s not possible, pretend-sleep with your eyes closed) for about twenty minutes. As you are sleeping, the caffeine goes through your gastrointestinal tracts and enters your bloodstream. By the time you wake up, it will have just started to hit your brain, making you feel more alert, focused, and rested.