I’ll be honest. It took me a little while to figure out how to start this piece. And somehow, I ended up with these first few lines you’re reading right now (meta, right?) See, as a person who writes every day for a living, I have a foolproof system that ensures the faucet is always running. All I have to do is twist the handle to watch my big ideas pour onto an empty page until it’s full of genius!
Just kidding — I can’t do that. I think it’s safe to say that nobody can.
Everyone who has ever gone toe-to-toe with a sheet of paper knows the aggravation, dread and paradox of writer’s block. It feels like you’re stuck in quicksand, and the harder you try to escape, the more trapped you become. However, I have good news. I get writer’s block a lot at work (that’s not the good news) so I’m going to share with you a handful of steps I take to overcome creative paralysis, ideate with consistency, and keep my job longer. Spoiler alert: Cannabis is one of those things.
First off, I want to be clear that cannabis CANNOT magically cure writer’s block. No such substance exists. In my experience, writer’s block is the result of overthinking and self-criticizing, or not enough researching or planning — none of which is “cured” by cannabis. What cannabis CAN do, is help you gain a fresh set of eyes that you can use to reevaluate ideas from a new perspective—and with more clarity and objectivity.
In my experience, writer’s block is the result of overthinking and self-criticizing, or not enough researching or planning
Poor planning can be a major cause of writer’s block. When I get started, I ask myself, “How do I want my audience to react to what I’ve written? What do I want them to feel or do after reading?” I think of the answer to these questions as a destination on a map. Though I don’t know exactly how to reach it, at least I have a vision of what it should look like. By enabling me to better empathize with my reader, cannabis can help me figure out the perfect destination.
Once I settle on a destination, I have to come up with a route to get there. My favorite method is to improvise and imagine myself speaking my story to one person. I try to come up with different openings, ideas and approaches until I surprise myself with something I want to keep. I’ll do this until I have a big lump of clay, ready to be chiseled and molded into the story I want to tell. And I always prioritize quantity over quality, because the essence of writing is rewriting, and you can worry about quality later.
I always prioritize quantity over quality, because the essence of writing is rewriting, and you can worry about quality later.
The majority of my writing is for an audience, so maintaining objectivity is extremely important for my readers to understand what I’m talking about. I can’t use expressions, jokes or references that only make sense to me. They need to make sense to you—the reader. The problem is, from the moment I click “New Document”, I start losing objectivity without realizing it. The deeper I get inside my own head, the more intricate and subjective my ideas become—and the more likely it is that nobody will understand what I’m talking about. This is easily fixable, however. I just need to add context—and getting a little high gives me the ability to realize where that should happen. Now, I can be more confident that readers will react to my story with, “Ahh, okay,” and not, “Uhh, okay?”
Writer’s block can also happen when I spend too much time with my piece. I read the same lines over and over again until it becomes torturous—and I end up adding one more crumpled piece of paper to the serious fire hazard I’m causing in my trash can. However, when I consume cannabis, I can look at my work with a new perspective. I can better understand what I was trying to say all along, and where my story needs to go. I recall ideas that I’ve overlooked. And I realize new ways to approach the ideas that I already have, turn them on their head, and draw refreshing parallels and comparisons until I end up with something new —that I’m proud to say I wrote.