I have just spent 10 minutes trying to think of witty titles for this piece along the lines of laxatives and writing but couldn’t find any that were satisfyingly alliterative! Needless to say I have eased my creative constipation a little and in the process learnt a little more about me and how my brain works.
I used my own advice and thinking about the idea of thinking time that my first supervisor discussed with me – I gave myself a break. Not a physical, going on holiday break (there’s no time for that!), but that actual no input, let your mind wander break. Here is what I changed, so that others who are struggling might find something that will help.
- I stopped listening to music on the way too and from work. I realised this was prime mind wandering time. When I was listening to music I would get the last song stuck in my head all day. So it wasn’t just effecting my walking time but also my whole day by getting stuck on repeat.
- I stopped multi-tasking when at home. At work, not so easy, but at home I stopped watching tv on my ipad while washing up. I also stopped browsing on my phone while watching tv. When lying on the bath I just lay there instead of having music or reading a book. I just did one thing at a time!
- I went back to facts instead of interpretation. I was looking at what I need to get down and decided to move away from my literature review for a while and go back to my methodology. This allowed me to write about facts – what happened, stats and demographics – rather than trying to interpret ideas and theories. All of a sudden 1000 more words! This helped me get some of information in my head out without having to “think” too hard about it. This has led to some interesting observations and possibly an article.
- I took it easy on myself. I gave myself permission to not be productive. I lay on the sofa for a whole weekend under a blanket and didn’t do anything. No housework, not reading, no writing, no drawing. I think I needed that, guilt free.
- I had a supervision meeting. I think this is definitely worth mentioning. If you are stuck chat to your supervisor(s). They see things you might not have yet. They have a different opinion on what progress is. They will tell you it’s normal to be stuck every now and then. Get their moral support!
My one final piece of advice which is only relevant at this time of year is ignore the #NaNoWriMo people. Their aim is to churn out 80,000 words in a month. That’s an entire thesis. There is an #AcWriMo which is useful but you need to know your limits or it can be disheartening. I did this a couple of years ago and set my targets to high. I now know that 250 words a day is a reasonable target!
My main point here is take it easy on yourself and think about how much you are putting into yourself whether that is visually, aurally or subconsciously. Free up some sensory space to let your mind explore and it will come up with its own ideas and conclusions.