Breaking Up with Writer’s Block
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a confession. While I often call myself a “writer”, I haven’t been feeling like one lately. Forget 5 minute daily exercises, not happening these days. Journaling? My last entry was January 2. It was reaffirming my New Year’s Resolution to get back to the thing I enjoy most: writing. Hell, even reading has become a chore for me. I was thrilled when my last book club meeting was pushed so I’d have more than the previously allotted 6 weeks to finish Remains of the Day (excellent by the way, though a bit slow in some places).
Needless to say, I’ve been lacking in motivation and creativity. Not the best place to be when you work in the creative strategy field. Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to attend a social media conference in Chicago. The day before the conference began, they offered a workshop on beating writers block. Sign. Me. Up.
I have two major road blocks in writing:
1. I self-edit a LOT. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard without shutting down ideas or thoughts. What makes it to page is more often than not overanalyzed, deleted, rewritten and scoffed – even before an idea truly comes together.
2. Because I tend to self-edit and be overly critical of my ideas and writing, I tend to lack motivation to write. If I know I’m either going to delete what I write or discount it, what’s the point, really? It is rare that I pick up the pen to write something that isn’t client related. Anyone who lives and works in the creative realm will know how soul-crushing that can be.
My goals walking into the workshop were to learn to absolve both of these issues.
The workshop was taught by Mary Olivieri, EVP and Executive Creative Director at CBD Marketing Group. Without gushing, I will say that if you are a creative of any sort, but especially a writer, I’d highly recommend taking a workshop with her. Mary used tactics derived from her experience at Chicago’s Second City to get those of us in the workshop to break out of our “writing comfort zones”. I won’t go into the detail of each exercise we went through, but I will give you a few highlights:
1. How difficult is that to do? See my above desire to immediately self-edit. Listening to yourself and others can be really, really hard. Put down the pen, open your mind and listen to what it has to say.
2. This one is so hard for me to do. I’m pretty good at poking holes into my own ideas and not allowing them to “grow” as it were. Rather than squash an idea, allow it to be an idea that’s on the right path to being a GREAT idea. You never know where it’ll end up, so write through it.
3. Have a Point of View. Sometimes this can be tricky, particularly when working for clients because most do have such a specific set of guidelines and clear parameters that they expect creative agencies to follow. Before you sit down to concept or write, determine what your point of view is – it will help guide your path.
There was much more to Mary’s workshop and a host of incredibly inspiring and fun exercises have helped me with my writing in the last few weeks. In fact, I’ve kept up the writing – missing days here and there, I’ll be honest – but what I’m really excited to do is bring some of these creative exercises to my team at work. We are fast approaching our 2019 planning season and it’s always helpful to have some new and exciting energy in our concepting sessions.
I’m hoping to do a follow up post to this exploring how some of these creative brainstorming tactics helped our creative planning for FY19. I’m going to work with my team to do some of these exercises and expand our process. I’m sure I’ll be back with plenty of pain points and successes.