Writer’s block is a pain in the pen. I’ve been dealing with it for the past 4 months or so, and it’s rather aggravating. Of course, I think much of the block came from the stresses of teaching and grading papers and all that jazz this semester, but now I’m relaxed and on break and have absolutely no excuse. None of my usual techniques are working at this point, and I’m starting to feel somewhat stifled, creatively speaking. So I decided to branch out…and that’s what today’s post is about.
As most of you know, I’m a fiction writer. My work is almost exclusively short story-based, although I have tentatively ventured out into the world of novel writing on occasion. The point is, I write creative fiction and not much else. So my attempt at branching out is a very strange and somewhat terrifying one for me: I’m taking a poetry writing class. I’m not much of a poetry reader, to be quite honest; I love my epic poetry, some Shakespearean sonnets, and any poetry by J. R. R. Tolkien, but that’s about it. It just doesn’t appeal to me. As a result, I have trouble writing poetry. It’s so technical and feels very restricted sometimes, even in free verse. I’ve written a few poems, but they’re not very good and it’s an agonizingly painful process. But I signed up for this class anyway, because why not? Might as well try, since I’m having no luck with fiction at the moment. The class doesn’t start until January, but the professor sent out a massive list of things we have to do prior to the beginning of the course. And strangely enough, the pre-class work is already starting to erode the creative wall I’ve been trying to knock down for months. I’ve had to write some new pieces of poetry in different styles, and practice writing a poem out multiple times by hand, pausing to think about what each line means or could mean. It’s an interesting experience, and it’s forcing me to think in different creative ways than I’m used to. Mind you, my poetry still sucks, but I’m learning, as well as forcing my way past my writing issues. I’ve even gotten some short story ideas from working on this poetry stuff. And this is even before the class actually starts! I’m excited.
Branching out doesn’t necessarily require a medium change. You don’t have to try writing a novel if you’re a poet, although I would recommend it. It’s ridiculously frustrating but quite helpful. Anyway, trying something new in your writing can be much simpler than that. If you write mostly in 3rd person, try writing a short story in 1st or even 2nd person. Worldbuilders, take a break from all that complicated detail, and work on a character piece. Free verse poets can try writing sonnets. I think y’all get the idea. When you hit a creative wall, change your writing up. Try something that you’re not comfortable with or that you just don’t like writing. It may be frustrating, but you will most likely learn things. Such detours should help you reorient your brain and hopefully push you past the writer’s block. And who knows? You may even find that you like the new element of your writing.