We were on a break!
Do you hear Ross screaming when you see the words “We were on a break”?
If you don’t know what that phrase is about or who Ross is or whatever it is that I am referring to… just let it slide, just this once. On the other hand, if you heard the phrase in your head and managed to crack a smile thinking about our bygone F.R.I.E.N.D.S., thank you but this post is not about relationships or breakups.
We at mindspeaks.co took an unexpected and unanticipated break. It just happened! One day we all got stuck… in a rut. The words stopped flowing, the cursor on the blank page blinked but didn’t dare move… we hit a wall, the dreaded creative block/writer’s block. A quick Wikipedia scan shows writer’s block as “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown”. Yes, that’s exactly what happened to us.
What caused the creative block?
Indeed it’s a million-dollar question and the only available answer could be Monopoly money (roughly translates to I have no blog-clogging clue). In any case, I will try to conjure up some monopoly dollars worth reasons, based on my personal experience.
- Too many topics to choose from: There were simply so many topics to write on that I couldn’t zero in on a single topic so I had zero topic (irony).
- Too many things happening irl: Offline, in real life, too many things were happening. Distressing news like acid attack or the second pandemic wave, or that we are down 7 months in 2020 already…
- Too many ideas to write on: The ideas beat the word count. I have around a dozen work-in-progress on Google docs, it’s like à la carte menus but from all sorts of restaurants… now imagine creating a three-course meal from that. Do you get my point?
- Freedom and responsibility: Taking reference from the existential psychotherapy, with freedom comes to its other half responsibility. As freelancers, we did have the freedom to choose how/when to work. However, when I ignored the “responsibility” part, I could write no longer. Indeed, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.
- Burnout: The eleventh revision of International Classification of Disease (ICD-11) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Although this occupational phenomenon is not a medical condition, it lays out three symptoms to identify the syndrome.
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
There is also a test developed by Dr. Gerald Fishkin where you can check if you have burnout. Click here for the test. Both the symptoms and the test confirmed that what I experienced was definitively a burnout.
Related Article: SUICIDE CONCERNS IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
How to overcome the creative block?
Whether it was too many topics or ideas or things happening around that blocked the writer from creating articles, all I knew was that the dry spell had to be dispelled. And so here is a list of things I / we did, which you could also try when you need to overcome your creative block:
- Take a break: Even if you’re working from home, even if you’re a freelancer, even if you love what you’re doing – you can always take a break. Taking a break does not necessarily mean you were unhappy with what you were doing, rather it is a necessity.
- Talk to someone about it: If you’re involved in a creative profession, admitting having a creative block may seem like the worst confession. It is like a comedian admitting to having no sense of humor. Nonetheless, find someone you can talk to about it. At mindspeaks.co , we talked about it with each other and fortunately there are compassionate ears here and which is also how we decided to take a break.
- Be kind to yourself: What you must understand is that a phrase like this is transient, so there’s no reason you should beat yourself about it. Be kind to yourself and seek inspiration. This could be a time to check on yourself, give yourself time to heal, and find your own path to overcome such hurdles. Turn your creative block phase into a meaningful learning phase instead.
Yes, we hit a wall. Yes, we took a break. Yes, we burned out. But like the Phoenix, we rise from our ashes. And yes, we are back!
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.-Confucius