From Writer’s Block to Creativity Overload

For the past few years I’ve experienced a huge writer’s block; an excruciating experience that I’m sure has befallen many aspiring bloggers and writers. It started when several stories I was working on a few years ago accidentally got wiped from my laptop, and despite my sister and I trying to retrieve them, we had no luck. Although none of these stories were even close to be considered readable yet, this was still a frustrating situation which led me to become too unmotivated to begin anything new. Since then, I’ve written little bits here and there, but nothing that I’ve yet felt passionate about pursuing.

Until now. I’ve had an idea for a novel floating about in my head for a while now, but have struggled to begin writing it. After my first ever blog post the other day however, I began writing – and lo and behold, I managed to squeeze out over 1000 words of this new story. Now that may not seem like a lot to some people, but for someone who has not written more than a few sentences of fiction for years, this was a miracle. Now I thought I’d share a few ideas that may have contributed to this sudden burst of creativity, and an escape from the dreaded writer’s block!

1. Stephen King’s Novel On Writing: I finished reading this a few weeks ago, and it is amazing. King provides many useful tips for ‘good’ writing in this novel, drawing from his own feedback from editors, publishing companies and other writers. The book also acts as an autobiography of his writing life; taking us on a journey from his first short story publications in local magazines, to publishing his first novel Carrie, and finally up until the writing process of On Writing. He even includes a short first draft of fiction at the end, before showing us the editorial process with all his annotations. King also recommends that aspiring writers read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E. B. White, (also a very useful book, but not as much of an entertaining read)! On Writing therefore was an inspirational book for me, and got me itching to get back into writing straight away. A highly recommended read.

2. Read a guilty pleasure/something fun: As a current undergraduate English Literature student, I read a wide variety of books, many of which are often a challenge, and not something that I would usually read by choice. Over the last few years, I’ve been attempting to work my way through many classic works of literature, most of which I do enjoy. I often do get a bit bogged down with reading, as I’m required to read so much for my course, that it often takes time away from reading something fun. Now that it’s the summer however, I am planning to read a few guilty pleasures, or more enjoyable books. I’m currently reading the first book in the Game of Thrones series, having been an avid fan of the television series for a few years. This is a perfect example of an enjoyable read for me, as I don’t often read many books of the fantasy genre. Sometimes therefore, it’s nice to just relax and read something pleasurable, and a bit different to previous reads, to get the creative cogs moving again.

3. When you find something you feel passionate about, take advantage of it straight away: I recently watched Murdered by My Boyfriend, and was reduced to both anger and tears. This motivated me to reach for my laptop immediately after and write a blog post, something that I’ve never done. There have been so many times when I’ve felt strongly about something and felt that I could write an entire essay on the subject, but then I let it slide and forget about it before writing anything down. By the time I remember it again, it feels too late to step back into the shoes of that moment, where emotions were at a high. It is essential therefore to write down these ideas as soon as they appear.

4. Have a good cry! This is a bit of a silly suggestion, but it weirdly helped me yesterday when I started working on my novel idea. I was feel guilty about having an unproductive day, and was generally just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I had a little cry with my dad however, complaining that I wasn’t good at anything and about how I never write anymore, and next thing I know, I’m writing! Which leads to my final point:

5. Cut yourself some slack: I’m sure many of you feel the same as I do sometimes, and you beat yourself up because you’ve not done everything you’d set out to do that day, or you’ve perhaps had months of unproductive activity. Whatever the situation, you need to just forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up about it. Instead, sometimes you need to just accept that the day hasn’t gone so well, but that there will always be inspiring days around the corner!

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Murdered By My Boyfriend

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I’ve just finished watching BBC’s shocking drama ‘Murdered by My Boyfriend’, which tells the true story of a seventeen year old girl, who becomes a victim of domestic violence. This sixty minute drama gives us an insight into Ashley and Reece’s four year abusive relationship; from their very first meeting right up until Reece brutally murders Ashley with his fists and an ironing board. Poignant and gripping, it’s safe to say that this drama left me feeling emotional and physically sick, and spurned me on to write my first blog post. At the end of the programme, we are left with the words “It took 4 years for Ashley to die. In that time, at least 229 other women in Britain were murdered as a result of domestic violence.” This shocking statistic reiterates just how common domestic violence continues to be, and highlights how it can often go on unnoticed for years. In this drama, Ashley’s friends continuously beg her to leave Reece, and the police are frequently called by neighbours, friends, and Ashley herself. Yet her death was still not prevented. So why was this case? And why are so many women still being murdered as a result of domestic violence?

Women’s Aid suggest that one reason for this is because domestic violence is still a ‘hidden crime’, with many women often attempting to hide signs of abuse from their friends and family. They propose a possible list of reasons, including self-blaming and fear, both of which are portrayed in ‘Murdered by My Boyfriend’. At several points during this drama, Ashley tells her friend that she provoked Reece, and continues to defend him because he’s a ‘good father’ to their daughter. This therefore raises a major issue of domestic abuse, that leads to many cases going unnoticed, or being unreported.

In particular for me, it was scary how much this drama resonated familiar moments from past relationships. Fortunately, I have never been a victim of physical domestic violence, however I have been a victim of verbal abuse by an ex boyfriend, which often made me fearful for my physical safety. According to domesticviolence.org, “verbal domestic abuse is one of the most serious forms of domestic violence”, and can have damaging psychological effects for the victim. During this one relationship, I was constantly criticized by my boyfriend, and was subjected to name calling, swearing and disrespect. As is common with most victims, I blamed myself for everything, and would continue to focus on the positives of the relationship, despite feeling utterly miserable. One example in particular of my ex boyfriend turning his bad behaviour around onto me, was when he would flirt and meet up with other girls behind my back. Understandably, this led me to become more paranoid, and I would go through his phone where I continued to find inappropriate messages from girls and I would bring it up with him. He would then shout at me, and made the argument about me going through his phone, which is still a violation of privacy yes, but does not justify his bad behaviour. This situation was mirrored exactly in ‘Murdered by My Boyfriend’, when Ashley found texts from another girl on Reece’s phone, informing her of his affair. Yet, similarly to my ex boyfriend, Reece turned the situation onto Ashley, and reminded her how ‘well he treated her’, bringing to light a further issue experienced by victims; feeling guilty. During this moment, Reece constantly interrogates Ashley, asking her ‘do I give you money?’ ‘Do I babysit while you’re out?’ before arguing that he treats her ‘like a princess’. Chillingly, this reflects my past situation with my ex, with him using the exact same line ‘I treat you like a princess’, in an attempt to prove how well he treated me when I accused him of treating me badly. Therefore a major problem felt by all victims of domestic abuse is that of self-blame and guilt, caused by a cruel psychological entrapment from the perpetrator.

Thankfully, as I said, I was never subjected to abuse on a more serious level, and I can only empathise to some extent with the poor women who become victims to domestic abuse, and frighteningly, death. This drama was very powerful in its message of domestic abuse, as it demonstrates the harmful effects of both verbal and physical violence; which according to The Guardian, “More than 1.1 million or 7% of women and 720,000 or 4% of men have been victims of…in the past year”. Shockingly, domestic abuse is still one of the most commonly reported crimes in the UK, and not everyone is lucky enough to escape from an abusive relationship. Ashley was only 17 when she met Reece, a hardworking college student with her whole life ahead of her. A life that was painfully cut short by someone she loved. How many more victims will there be?