Writing is an art form, and yet I don’t usually think of myself as an artist. Maybe that’s because when I think of art, I think of visual arts or musical arts, and I’m utterly incompetent at both.
(I draw stick figures, and I don’t play an instrument or compose music beyond humming when I’m happy. *smile*)
Logically, I know there are plenty of other forms of art, but I have to remind myself to include them—along with writing—in the “art” category.
I mention this obvious fact because it occurred to me how all types of artistic endeavors have the concept of a muse or a gut feel for when something is working—or not. Then I started wondering if we could use that general “artistic muse” concept to help us with our writing, especially when we suffer from writer’s block.
At some point in time, most writers will struggle with writer’s block. Maybe we’re not sure what should happen next in the story. Maybe we’re not sure how to get from where the story is to where the story is supposed to go. Maybe our muse or our characters aren’t speaking to us.
Regardless of the specifics, when faced with writer’s block, we need to do something to shake up our subconscious or walk away from the computer. Sitting at a keyboard and staring at a blank screen for hours at a time leads only to frustration.
Changing Our Creative Playground
Whether we call our subconscious mind simply our subconscious or our muse, one way to kick start our subconscious muse is to give him or her a different creative outlet. (Yes, I know muses are traditionally female, but mine is male, and he made me include the him. *smile*)
Sometimes we can jump into another writing project:
- brainstorm a new story
- work on a blog post
- beta read for a friend
But sometimes that’s not enough. Writing of any kind might have become an exercise in pulling teeth, and we might have no ideas—about anything.
In extreme cases like that, it can be helpful to remember that creativity is creativity, across the arts. As writers, we’re often creative in areas outside of writing. And spending time exploring those hobbies can get our creative juices flowing too.
Improving Our Writing through Creative Hobbies
There are many ways non-writing creative hobbies help us develop skills that we can carry over to writing. For just a few examples, consider:
- Visual arts, whether painting, photography, or computer graphics and animation, provide us with an opportunity to observe details, like how a change in light or color can affect our interpretation.
Compare to: how one tiny tweak can cause a domino effect in our story.
- Dance gets our blood flowing, and coordinating our movements with the rhythm and beat forces us to listen to something subtle.
Compare to: how our subconscious can be very quiet and subtle.
- Playing a musical instrument can help us see the beauty and patterns locked up inside the notes on the page.
Compare to: how we create subtext behind the words of our story.
- Composing music draws our muse into a form of storytelling where emotions reign even more prominently than using words.
Compare to: how connecting with our emotions can help us feel our way through the block.
Breaking Writer’s Block through Non-Logical Thought
Beyond those traditional forms of art, any project where we have to make decisions based not on logic but on our gut feelings can get our subconscious back into gear. We can find a way to tap into our instincts almost anywhere:
Designing a Garden:
- Which flowers should go where?
- What color patterns do I want?
- Do I feel like tomatoes or zucchini this year?
Decorating a Room:
- Which paint colors will be the perfect not-too-light-not-too-dark shade?
- Should this chair go here or there?
- Is it too cluttered?
Organizing Our Closet:
- Are these jeans too out of style?
- Will I be that size again?
- Do I have anything to go with this shirt?
Personally, I’ve painted and decorated rooms, I’ve created faux stained glass, I’ve gardened, I’ve sewn, I’ve done landscape and home design, and on and on. I designed my own website, and I enjoy taking landscape photographs.
Whenever we use our instinct to accomplish things, we’re forcing our subconscious to speak up. We’re asking our muse their opinion, and we’re listening to their answer. This give and take can strengthen the connection between our conscious mind and our subconscious mind.
If nothing else, we’re assuring our muse that we want to hear what they have to say. That, in turn, can encourage them to share more of their ideas. And a vocal muse might be just the thing we need to break through our writer’s block. *smile*
Writing as Art
Why is any of this important? Because maybe by thinking of how writing compares to other art forms, we can work out problems.
If a scene isn’t working and we can’t figure out why, maybe stepping back and looking at our writing like a sculptor will reveal whether it needs to be built up or carved away. Or if an emotional scene is reading flat, maybe thinking like a music composer will help us focus on which emotional notes we need to hit harder or draw out longer. Or if the tone of a scene feels off, maybe thinking like a painter will point out where the scene is too light or too dark.
We all know writing isn’t an exact science, but even beyond that, the techniques other types of artists use to solve their problems might help us too. In short, if you’re anything like me and don’t usually think about writing as being a “true” art form, maybe it’s time to change our attitude. *smile*
Do you think of writing as an art form? Which art forms do you think writing is most similar to? What other creative outlets do you have? Have you ever used them when you’re suffering from writer’s block or when you’re burnt out on writing? Have they helped or not?Pin It