Not too long ago, a freshman member of my college sorority at Trinity University reached out to the organization’s alumna for advice. Clearly rattled by a mixture of panic and exhaustion, she asked us, “What do you do when you have a paper due tomorrow, but you keep running into writer’s block that frustrates you into an emotional fit?” With the gentle ease of syllabus week in the past, this girl found herself immobilized by the endless demands of her coursework. Unable to make progress despite the mounting stress of a looming deadline, she sat in the dark silence of her messy room, hyperventilating under the dim glow of her computer screen.
It seemed like everyone had a solution. Drink a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Go for a walk. Practice yoga for fifteen minutes. Listen to the soft sound of waves crashing on the shoreline on YouTube. Eat a pint of sorbet. Sob if necessary.
The majority of students I know – myself included – have forced themselves into creative stalemates as a result of procrastination. (Casually looking at the endless list of projects scrawled into my planner, I will be the first to admit that crawling out of a writer’s block isn’t easy.) But, as it goes, different personalities require different strategies for coping with the stress of losing steam.
Personally speaking, my greatest source of solace rests in a far less gentle mantra. I find comfort in three words that often shock young writers: get over yourself.
I make this imperative with all the love in the world. The message sounds harsh, but it simply functions to say that sometimes the greatest medicine is a healthy dose of perspective. Every now and then, we need to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and face the objective reality of our situation – most of the workload presently corroding our sanity will one day sit in a forgotten file, collecting dust in the virtual space that contains evidence of our past endeavors. Get over yourself. My secret to conquering writer’s block is never losing focus of the bigger picture.
In the spirit of my last post (which you can check out here), I leave you with a playlist that encompasses the theme of seeking out new perspectives. Leaning toward the amorphous genres of new age and contemporary indie – whatever that means – each track somehow encourages listeners to look beyond the limits of his or her immediate experiences. So, take a chill pill, crank the volume up, and get over yourself. Writer’s block passes. Life goes on.
Akira Kosemura :: Look
Tokyo producer and multi-instrumentalist Akira Kosemura deconstructs traditional compositions for piano into sprawling postmodern soundscapes.
Sigur Ròs :: Lúppulagið
It’s not a secret that I’m obsessed with Sigur Ròs. The Icelandic group is famous worldwide for celestial melodies such as “Lúppulagið” that are written and performed in a completely fictional language.
Björk :: All Is Full of Love (Instrumental)
I hear Reykjavik calling my name. This instrumental version of Björk’s “All Is Full of Love” is drenched with seismic drama. It’s the perfect energy spike when you’re burning the midnight oil.
Femina-X :: You Are the Genome
Transversing space and time, San Antonio’s very own Femina-X perfectly follows Björk’s graceful otherworldliness. (I try to avoid songs with vocal parts on writing playlists, but I felt compelled to share my love for this local act.)
Do Make Say Think :: A Tender History In Rust
Toronto’s Do Make Say Think concocts psychedelic constellations of noise in ambient tracks like “A Tender History in Rust.” Deconstructing song forms into their rawest elements, Do Make Say Think challenges the definition of music itself.
Hiatus :: Third
Although his followers reside largely in Oslo, Hiatus is the working moniker of London’s Cyrus Shahrad. Probing the complexities of modern life in tracks like “Third,” Shahrad urges listeners to bury everything they own on a hill in Peckham Rye.
Amiina :: Glámur
Experimental quartet Amiina melts compositions written for the violin and cello into shimmering works of art.
(The cover image of this story is via Facebook/Femina-X.)