Embracing writer’s lull

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

We’ve all been there. A head bursting with ideas, but no words coming forth. Or even no ideas at all; just endless frustrated hours staring at a blank page, or aimlessly scrolling through the internet waiting, just waiting for inspiration, for that mojo to come back.

Commonly known as writer’s block, there is some debate out there about its legitimacy. Still, whatever you want to call it, it happens. I choose to call it a “writing lull”; a period of time when the writing just feels like a steep, unscalable mountain.

There are many reasons for this, and just as many tips on how to push through it. Maybe you’re overworked, burnt out after a long writing spree. Maybe personal life is too busy, and the mental energy to tackle the task is just not there. But write we must, and we turn to all kinds of solutions to keep pushing forward: writing sprints, word count targets, freewriting, dictating, anything — anything — that’ll keep the words flowing.

This is meant to release whatever blockage is there and get us back on track. And sometimes it works. But sometimes, it doesn’t. And the writing lull, the “Block”, becomes even more frustrating.

Controversial thought: Embrace it.

Could this be your body and brain telling you something? A sign that maybe you did overwork yourself? A gentle nudge to change approach, mix things up a bit, even think of some self-care? At the end of the day, writing comes from deep within us, shouldn’t we take some time to care for the source? Do some maintenance?

I’m not saying pushing through a dry spell is the wrong way forward. But I am saying, be mindful of whether it is the right way forward for you. Is applying extra pressure yielding results, or adding more stress? Is the added stress motivating, or blocking you even further?

Try stepping away. Take some time to sit in this lull rather than fight your way out of it. It could be that your brain needs some space to let things percolate, to get untangled. I find doing menial tasks like washing up or ironing (admittedly not to everyone taste) helps to clear my mind and things fall into place in their own time. Is there an activity that does that for you? A walk, exercise, crafts? Jigsaw puzzles and colouring books also work wonders for me; I am no scientist, but I have found that the act of focusing on precise, simple tasks does something to my brain that unlocks areas I haven’t tapped into; suddenly images and ideas come flowing out of nowhere and whatever I might be stuck on begins to unravel itself.

It may take a few hours, it may take days. The important thing is to give yourself permission to go through this process for as long as it takes. Don’t think about the writing, let the writing come find you.

With the pressure lifted, you’ll find that the creative juices start to trickle again. And suddenly, a little creative challenge doesn’t seem so daunting. In fact, you’re looking forward to it.

Try not to jump in the deep end straight away; test the waters with small, achievable goals. Can you aim for 150 words? That’s easy enough. Maybe those 150 will turn into 500; the 500 might turn into 1000. If not today, then maybe tomorrow. You can keep that creative streak alive by watching shows or films, reading books or scripts. Mostly, don’t rush it. Let the flow find its pace.

Embrace the writing lulls. I believe they happen for a reason. They tell us to slow down, to stop, to re-evaluate perhaps. The challenge we face as writers is not how to get out of them, but to learn how to listen.

written by Patty Papageorgiou

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We create spaces for screenwriters from all over the world to share their work and get feedback & mentorship from professionals in the industry.

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