If you were anything like me after graduating college, you’ll remember the anxious feeling that comes along with all of the uncertainty ahead. And you’ll remember how deadly this feeling is for your creativity.
When I completed my studies, I had a classic case of anxiety, and job hunting filled my miserable days. I didn't know what life had in store for me, and that terrified me. I would go on long runs in the morning and stare at the computer screen for hours in the afternoon. Meanwhile, my personal writing endeavors were taking a hit. Even though my mind was buzzing, I wasn't able to write anything creatively.
Here’s what I finally did about it.
In my early twenties, I decided to take some time away to get to know myself and the world around me. Up until then, my entire life had been structured. This was my first time being entirely on my own, and I wanted to use it for personal reflection.
Here are three ways travel can help you snap yourself out of writer’s block for good.
1. Give yourself time to breathe and relax
Taking a solo backpacking trip along the east coast of the United States was the best decision of my life. I packed sparingly, bringing along only a few clothes, a travel journal, and a copy of The Bhagavad Gita, my favorite philosophical book.
You will meet many unforgettable people and see many remarkable things, but use this time for more than just a getaway. Use this time to reflect and write.
For me, this was a time to truly live in the moment—a place where anxiety couldn’t touch me. I spent this time to myself developing my spirituality. I was relaxed. I realized that my worries and obsession with controlling and structuring my life were consuming me, impeding me from being creative. Once you’re able to clear your mind, this will mark the beginning of the end of your writer’s block.
2. Write about anything
Sometimes authors need to get their creative juices flowing by writing about anything and everything. On my journey, I picked up my travel journal and I started writing about everything, whether related to travel or not. My failed relationships. My confusion about the future. Getting your thoughts out on paper is not only therapeutic for authors, but can lead to the development of story arcs down the road.
When I eventually returned home, the writer’s block was gone—forever. I felt a creative surge that I've only been building on over the passing years. I started my freelance business and started writing for companies. I started blogging as a form of activism for animal rights. I started writing creatively again, rediscovering my old favorite pastime of writing short stories. I even wrote a travel memoir about the trip that changed so much for me.
This is why I highly recommend a “writer’s getaway” for any frustrated author who just can’t seem to be able to put words on paper in their current environment.
3. Fan the flames
Although my journey was the event that dealt my writer’s block a deadly blow, I encourage writers to fan the flames to keep your creativity going. You can do this by giving yourself permission to be flexible.
For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was in the middle of some work for my business when I had a vague idea for a young adult novel. I saved my work, stepped away from the computer, and allowed myself to go for a short walk while the ideas percolated.
Taking time away from so-called pressing matters is a valuable skill that doesn’t just help creative writing, but also strategizing for your business as an author or a freelancer. The ability to put immediate work aside to fan your creative flames is difficult to do when stressed, and for me, this mindset shift all began with travel.
Travel opens your mind. It allows you a chance to explore the world as well as yourself. Prolific writer Mark Twain says that travel is “fatal” to narrow-mindedness.
Actually, travel is fatal to a lot of things, and writer’s block is also certainly one of them! Every once in a while, all writers should allow themselves the opportunity to reflect while gaining new experiences through travel. Your mind will thank you.
Samita Sarkar is an English teacher and the author of the travel memoir I Am the Ocean