Today I’d like to share with you a revelation I’ve had recently. Writing is hard! What the heck! When I was younger, stories and ideas came as easily to me as breathing. I wrote all the time, going through multitudes of college-ruled notebooks. Granted, I rarely finished these stories. I wrote down just enough to get the story out of my head, and then I moved on to the next idea.
(Hmm. That seems to be a pattern for me. Starting a project, getting distracted or frustrated, and moving on to another project. That’s something to think about.)
But back to business! I’ve been sitting down to work on my slice-of-life superpeople comic story, “Maisie’s Diner”, and each time I’ve had nothing come into my head. The story just…wasn’t there. I never know what to do in those instances, it’s such a jarring experience. To have the story I’ve been passionate about for months now to suddenly not be there is baffling to me. I know a lot of professional writers often say, “Just write. Write even if it’s bad or it makes no sense.” And I get that, I do, but when my fingers are hovering over the keyboard and the only thing coming down from my brain is the occasional cricket noise, what is there to write?
Something I discovered during one NaNoWriMo challenge was that I tend to work better when I have multiple projects going on at once. When I’m absolutely blocked on one story, I move on to a different one, and suddenly I can write again. The ideas from one story inform the other story. It’s an interesting cycle that works well for me, most of the time.
Another method that has worked now and again is to skip ahead in my story outline (I NEED to outline my stories or else I’ll ramble on forever and the story goes nowhere) and work on a different scene. I’ll work on the exciting bits for a while, and then connect the scenes later. In these instances, I’m still working on the story, and writing the fun parts sparks my interest in the story once more and I’m able to get back to the parts I was having trouble with.
I often switch creative mediums completely and turn to drawing. I’ll just draw cute stuff for a while, or maybe I’ll doodle characters from “Shattered Prism”, or I’ll draw some fanart of other people’s creations. I can’t put my finger on exactly why this sometimes works for me, but it often does. I’ll sometimes just draw or doodle for days before I’ll touch my writing again. The same can be said for when I’m feeling stuck with my art. I’ll turn back to writing. I like to hop back and forth between projects and mediums because it keeps my mind working and exercises different aspects of my creative skills. Think of it like switching between cardio and muscle training at the gym. Two different areas of exercise, but it’s still exercise.
If all else fails, I give my brain a break. Reading comics, playing video games, reading novels, watching movies or shows – all these things are things I like to do to relax. The funny part is that these activities are still story-centric. Sure, not every video game I play is brimming with complex narrative (I still love you, Animal Crossing!), but these things I do for fun continue to inform how I make stories and artwork.
Creating anything is hard, and we all go through slumps and come up against creative blocks. If persisting through it is for you, that’s awesome! Keep doing that! If switching things up is how you find your mojo, fantastic! Flip and flop to your heart’s desire! If your well of creativity has run dry, take a break and do something that replenishes that well. If you’re unsure, take some time to experiment, and then do what works well for you. You know yourself best, after all!
Thanks for reading, folks. I hope you have a wonderful day!