On. Off. On. Off. The cursor goes on blinking, a bar of black pixels challenging me to fill in this white screen. No, really. I have no clue what to write. It’s one of those days, where when the brain’s right hemisphere just isn’t feeling it.
We’ve all had these days, when a blank canvas doesn’t speak, when the ideas just don’t flow, and every thread you pick from your consciousness leads to dead ends. Even the looming deadline fails to induce the all-critical creative panic.
What do you do, then? What does any person do when he’s run out of creative juice?
Option One would be to take a break. Just let it be for the day. It is by far the easiest. Just shut down the laptop, put away the brushes, close the notebook, disconnect from whatever you do, and take it easy. Let it go, let it all go. Take a walk, spend some time with friends and family, watch a movie, do whatever. Just distract yourself from the fact that you’re at an impasse. And sooner or later, either you’ll come up with a nice fresh idea, or someone around you will say something that you can work into a proper piece (more often than not, it’s the latter, but hush).
This option, though genuinely relaxing, tends to fail while laboring under a looming deadline. Also, it leads to wastage of time and effort, and disrupts any schedule or work-plan you may have decided for yourself. Further, there’s the question of mood. The mood with which you sat down to it is obviously gone now.
Option Two is to multitask – sort of. Start off with the task and complete it bit by bit. And after each segment is done, take a break. Relax, take a short breather and get back to work. The idea is to alternate between the task at hand and something that will rejuvenate you. This requires moderately high self control, and dedication to the task at hand. Also, one needs to be careful to keep work and breaks proportionate.
The pitfalls here are evident. As with all humans, we are but pleasure seekers. And pretty soon, some part of you will watch in hopeless, helpless horror as some other part binge watches F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Not to be tried unless the will is strong. Nor if there is a very constricting deadline.
Option Three, my personal preference, is to plug on. Just bash at it till you get it done. I wrote this one that way. It gets the job done and more often than not, you’ll learn how to generate creativity. Take very short, infrequent breaks and keep going. I know it sounds very old fashioned, all “March on!” and similar tones, but this works for me, and it should work for others too. But it is tiring. It’s not daisies and rainbows and unicorns, it is proper hard slogging.
Here, unless you know exactly what you are capable of, you run the risk of exhausting yourself and burning out. It either leaves you satisfied rejuvenated, or totally drained. Depends on whether you can generate some creative ideas on the job or not.
Honestly, no single method is a guaranteed success. We all have off days, when it just refuses to flow. When you stare at blankness and instead of an urge to fill in the white, you just reflect it. The trick, I suppose is to point the mirror at something else, and get on with it.
– Suchit Kar