The COVID-19 lockdown has kicked all of us extremely hard in an incredibly tender place. And while authors may have been forgiven for thinking that they would be one of the few to benefit from the state of affairs, the reality of the situation has proven markedly different for may. On paper, the idea of having to spend all of your time at home and engage with the world through your laptop seems like a gift. An opportunity to dedicate more of your time and attention to your projects. But for all kinds of reasons, the current circumstances have not helped authors to be at their most fecund.
Whether you write for a living or as a creative outlet, you’re an author. And when your creative prowess seems to abandon you, it can be incredibly frustrating. Writer’s block is extremely common, and there are lots of ways to deal with it. But when it’s sustained over a period of weeks, months or even years it can be devastating to your wellbeing and sense of self.
You’re lacking in confidence
There’s a clear psychological link between confidence and creativity. Expressing yourself through a creative artform can give you confidence in other areas of your life. But it works both ways. And if you’re lacking in confidence, it’s not always easy to express yourself in other ways. In these troubled times it can be difficult to take care of your body, mind and appearance in ways that are conducive to self-confidence. But as lockdown measures ease and it’s easier to go to the gym, book an appointment at a cosmetic dentist office or get a hair cut you may find that little things that help you to become the best versions of yourself unblock a tide of creativity. But don’t forget to eat healthily, bathe regularly and dress in anything other than sweatpants. A little self-care goes a long way.
You have unrealistic expectations
These are unprecedented times. And you shouldn’t expect yourself to create (or function) as you did in the halcyon days of normality. while there’s nothing wrong with setting goals and milestones, you should also be wary of saddling yourself with unrealistic expectations. Celebrate your accomplishments, however great or small. And don’t beat yourself up if you’re turning out less than 8,000 words a day.
You’re not taking the time to inspire yourself
You can’t create in a vacuum. You need to consume and be inspired. So when you hit a creative block, take yourself out of your head and immerse yourself in the work of others to draw inspiration. This could mean flicking through an art book, reading a novel, watching a movie, playing a video game. Anything that excites that creative impulse.
You’re butting your head against a narrative dead-end
Are you the kind of fiction author that plans every character arc and plot line meticulously before they start typing? Or do you let the characters tell you where they want to go? If you work in the latter way, it can be extremely frustrating when the characters leave you down a narrative dead end and refuse to talk to you any more.
But rather than trying to beat them into submission, leave them alone and pick up another plot thread. Or move onto another project altogether. And trust that when they’re ready, the characters will show you where they want to be.