There are two common, overwhelming issues that all writers will face at some stage in their writing careers.
Whether you’re struggling with your essay writing for University, the first chapter of your book, or you’re a freelance writer simply ready to throw in the towel; we all, at some stage in our lives, ask ourselves the same two questions when writing:
As human beings, it’s completely natural for us to struggle with writers block whilst having to deal with the confidence in our own essay writing abilities.
Factors such as our health, relationships, environment and finances play a massive role in stimulating unwanted emotions; but thankfully The PESTO Approach aims to eliminate these two common problems with a proven set of psychological solutions.
As mixed-media artist and author Christine Mason Miller once said,
“It’s normal to experience ebbs and flows in your creativity. A creative rut, however, goes beyond these regular vacillations and lasts longer”.
So the question you’re probably asking yourself now is, what is the PESTO Approach and how will it help me overcome writer’s block whilst making me feel confident in what I’m producing?
Let’s dive in to the first technique…
Naturally, it’s so easy to focus on the past and “what could have been” rather than focusing on the task in hand right now. Perhaps you wrote a spectacular piece several months ago and gained a large amount of positive feedback and self-pride; maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself?
However, it’s so important for you to focus on the present, and only the present.
Being in the present is what allows us to gain inspiration and create positive energy, so it’s important not to dwell on the past or the future, but to be very much focused on the task in hand today.
Here’s a great quote from Jen Lee, an independent producer and performer in New York City’s storytelling scene…
“Presence is about aligning our attention in the moment, instead of letting our minds be endlessly divided by internal worries, chatter [and] reminders.”
If you’re struggling to cope with your past failures, the famous failures post is a great resource to refer to in times of need.
How to keep yourself in the present:
You’ve probably read a tonne of articles that go along the lines of “create a working environment that alleviates any distractions, put your TV in a different room and unplug the internet.”
In fact, we’re referring to the environment and space that’s all around us. To stimulate your mind and open up the senses, it simply means doing something else other than floating around in a writer’s block bubble.
Being able to physically leave your writing behind and go outside gives us a sense of availability, and by doing this we actually give our thoughts, ideas and inspiration a new insight and room to finally land.
Simple things like taking a shower, looking out of the window or going for a walk are quick and easy solutions to getting creative, the simple things that we take for granted.
How to change your environment:
- Get up and make a coffee – a change of scenery for 10 minutes can help to reset your thought process and boost your creativity; and the caffeine will give your mind and body a boost too.
- Take a walk – go alone or with a friend. Being alone with your thoughts can give you clarity, whilst walking with a friend can help you to share your ideas and get a second perspective, and maybe some fresh new ideas.
- Take your laptop outside – if it’s a nice day why not take your laptop into the garden, or even further afield to a local park, and enjoy a change of scenery whilst you write. Being outside in the sun tends to make most people feel happy and relaxed, which is a good state to be in when you’re trying to write.
- Do a mundane task – sitting in front of your PC, staring at a blank Word document for hours is very unproductive. If the words aren’t flowing then use your time to clean the bathroom, take the recycling out, do your food shopping etc. Carrying out mundane housekeeping chores can help you to feel productive, and clear your mind enough to allow your creativity to flow when you return to your computer.
Separating yourself from your work on a regular basis is an effective solution to finding a greater insight, along with building confidence in yourself. As people, we’re reluctant to change, but if you take opportunities to do something different or a bit scary on a regular basis, the ability to write will come naturally and best of all, you’ll be happy in what you’re writing.
Keri Smith, Illustrator and Author of many bestselling books based on creativity said:
“Creativity is enhanced by our ability to look at things from as many different perspectives as possible – not repeating the same thing over and over.”
Trying new things means going to different places, learning new skills, meeting people from many walks of life, you might say it’s an inspirational goldmine!
How to separate yourself from your writing:
- Take a day off – If you’ve hit a brick wall with your current project, one of the best things you can do is take a day off. Go on a day trip to somewhere new, meet a friend for lunch, or just watch a box-set in your pyjamas – anything that separates you from your writing for a day.
- Book a weekend away – sometimes one day off is all you need; sometimes a weekend away is the best method for clearing the cobwebs away. Try and choose somewhere that’s a bit more ‘off grid’ such as a camping trip in the Peak District, or a B&B in rural Wales; ideally somewhere without Wi-Fi and all of the associated distractions of the internet.
- Do something nice for yourself – past failures can knock your confidence and hold you back, so treat yourself to that new book/CD/top you’ve had your eye on, indulge in a nice long bath, or just take some time out from writing to call a friend for a chat.
- Do something creative – separate yourself from your writing and spend some time doing something else creative. Paint a picture, make a scrapbook, do some DIY, get the sewing machine out – just do something creative that isn’t writing! Keep the creative part of your brain active, and hopefully you’ll return to your writing with ideas pouring out of you.
- Get active – moving your body and getting your blood flowing can also help your mind to flow with creative ideas. Try dancing, going out for a run, or practising yoga – moving your body can help to free your mind and refocus your creativity into your writing.
- Get your adrenaline pumping – do an activity such as rock climbing, which you can do indoors at many leisure centres nowadays, go on a rollercoaster, or even just take a cold shower! All of these things cause your body to flush with adrenaline, putting you in fight or flight mode. When your body goes back to its basic instincts, your mind is free to be creative again.
Make a small change to your work space.
If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your work, try scribbling meaningful words down, or even better just writing them on the wall. This is a clever way of changing your perception of the given space around you, which will open your mind to new possibilities.
Another alternative is to physically change the space around you. This could include cleaning your room, re-arranging furniture or adding new elements to create a fresh outlook and to make your work area feel unique.
Famous artist Jolie Guillebeau would often clean her studio, paint the walls or buy new pillows, as this kind of change would often help her feel more inspired again and to increase her creativity levels.
How to make a transition in your work space:
- Rearrange your furniture – make your bedroom or home office feel like a brand new room by rearranging your furniture; maybe moving your desk closer to the window would help to boost your creativity and, quite literally, shed some new light on your writing.
- Get some new furnishings – if your desk chair is a bit uncomfortable it might be stifling your creativity, so treat yourself to a new, comfier chair. Likewise if you struggle to write at night time due to insufficient lighting perhaps it’s time to invest in a new desk lamp.
- Hang some paintings up – adorn the walls of your workspace with paintings or posters. Surrounding yourself with art can help you to channel your own creativity into your writing.
- Get organised – a tidy desk usually equals a tidy mind. If you have too much clutter on your desk it can make your mind feel cluttered too. Spend some time organising all those notes that are strewn around your desk, filing things away properly, or recycling them where necessary. Once you have a bit more space to work and fewer desk distractions you should get back into the flow of your writing.
Being open to others about your work actually increases the confidence you have in your work, as well as gaining new ideas to inspire you.
Whether its posting a sample of your latest work on a writing community, sharing with friends through social media, or showing them in person, each of these approaches offer ways to get new ideas for your piece, gain constructive feedback and to hear all the nice things they want to say (which will instil confidence in your own work).
How to keep yourself in the present:
- Share it online – share your writing online, either on a blog, or in a writing community. Sharing things via the internet gives you a sense of anonymity, and allows honest feedback from strangers that can help you to grow. We’re often less hurt by negative feedback from strangers than we are when loved ones provide negative feedback.
- Share it with a close friend – if you’re lucky enough to have a close friend who you can trust to give you an honest opinion on your work, show it to them. Some friends and family may sugar coat things, but your honest friend won’t pull any punches, so you’ll get straight to their true opinion of it, and their feedback can really help you to succeed with your piece of writing.
- Share it with colleagues or peers – if you’ve been brave enough to share your work with strangers online, and with a close, honest friend, then you’re brave enough to share your work with a peer. Ask a colleague/fellow student to take a look at your latest draft, and ask for their honest, constructive feedback. They might ask you to do the same, which is a good opportunity to help shape someone else’s work, which in turn shapes your own work in the future.
- Be open to criticism – let’s face it, sometimes your writing is going to be a bit iffy. However, the only way you can move forward and become a better writer is to be open to constructive criticism and learn from it as much as possible. Don’t ask for someone’s feedback if you’re not willing to take it on board; it’s a waste of everyone’s time.