Hello again, boys and girls. Today I’d like to rap a bit on a topic that’s always been close to my heart — writer’s block. Particularly, why it’s a load of crap! Or at least, how the mere existence of the term is something people use to fall back on when they’re feeling less-than-motivated. But without contributing anything I’d just be bitching, so at the end are three tips guaranteed to help the words flow when you’re feeling funky (pro tip: it works for pretty much anything, not just writing!).
Let’s get started!
Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Shlock
How many TV shows are currently on the air? In 2014, a whopping 187 TV shows were in production at some point. All of those shows had writers. How many of those lavishly paid individuals do you think got to take a day off because they just weren’t ‘feeling it?’ If you guessed none, you were probably right (unless they faked the flu). 187 shows means 187 teams of writers working on runs of up to 23 episodes per season! You know how they did it?
They came to work.
The World is Run by Those Who Show Up
I love that quote, because damned if it ain’t the truest thing in the world sometimes. Have you ever gone to a meeting where only two or three people cared enough to be there? You could be setting an agenda for an entire year, and still most people can’t be arsed to call an Uber and show up to a meeting. There are scores of comedy writers trying to find success in their craft, and the one thing universally acknowledged by professionals is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be great, or even good. Ernest Hemingway famously said:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and you definitely can’t write a spec script without putting words on the page.
The great book ‘How Google Works’ talks about how their ideal employee, the smart creative, has a bias towards action. When you’re planning a project or developing a pilot, it’s so easy to get bogged down in the what-ifs, but all that’s really important is that you do something. Ideas are a dime a dozen — execution is where success lives.
Manufacturing Motivation in 3 Easy Steps!
Whether you’re Hemingway or Hammurabi, at the end of the day, we’re all human. So why not take advantage of your human nature to help build some motivation when you’re feeling sluggish? Here’s a couple of tips on how.
- Create a workspace only for writing
Your brain has a little thing going for it called state-dependent memory, which basically means it can retrieve memories best when you’re in the same state as when you learned the info. Ever walked into a room and forgot why you came in there? Your
brain is great at sectioning off the universe, so why not create a space that just screams ‘WRITE!’ Create a space dedicated to writing so that your brain instantly goes into writing mode when you plop down there with pen and paper.
- Listen to something on repeat
Remember Pavlov’s Dog from high school psych? He associated food with a bell, so all Pavlov had to do is ring the thing to get the dog salivating. Find a song (or short playlist) that you don’t mind listening to on repeat, and keep it on loop as you write. Before long, you’ll hear the first few beats of the first track and immediately get into the groove. I work best with orchestral music, like movie scores (or personal fave Two Steps from Hell that I’m listening to as I write this), but find whatever works for you and embrace it!
- Block out a writing time – and keep it!
This is one you’ve probably heard before, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Just like the previous two tips, this is all about creating a rhythm and pattern so that your body knows exactly when its time to write. Some people work best in the mornings, some in the evenings, some in the mid-afternoon, but clearing your schedule for even an hour to get your thoughts flowing is vital to building the writing habit.
A Bonus Tip
One last tip, at least one that works for me, is to write the early ideas on a piece of paper. The computer is way too linear of an input system for the nonlinear, scattershot bullshit that the brain likes to pull when conjuring up ideas.
How do you manufacture motivation?