3 Tips in Combatting Writer’s Block (or artistic block)

3 Tips in Combatting Writer’s Block (or artistic block)

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Ughhhh… There is nothing more dreadful to a writer than writer’s block. Especially for new writers or content creators, the ideas seem to be in abundance at first. No idea is too far-fetched; no subject is off limits. Not only do the ideas flow, but the practice flows as well. Your poems flow like Dominican rivers, your essays are composed with depth, and your stories take on a life of its own, much to your delight and excitement. You put a few of your writings out there, whether publicly or within your circle of friends/colleagues, and you receive high praise. You feel great. You are great.

Then you’re asked, or at the least you feel expected, to reproduce what you’ve done. What next? Oh I’ll show you what’s next! you exclaim from the depths of your heart, but when you sit down to write, you instead feel the damning artistic paralysis: Writer’s Block. Time is running out — whether it is an official deadline or one you imposed on yourself — yet your creative juices are slowly drying up. And this can be applied to any other artist, whether your craft is videography/photography, creating content, painting, personal training, etc. With any craft, I’ve noticed that eventually you may reach a plateau. While it may be alarming, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Plateaus, in my opinion, signify two things:

a) You have accomplished a goal

b) It is time to accomplish something new, in a new way.

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I think where a lot of artists fall off is honestly where a lot of other things seem to fall off: at the point where adaptation becomes essential. For some time now, I have been struggling with Writer’s Block myself. I desperately want to put my thoughts on paper (or computer, ha), yet when I do, it doesn’t flow the way I desire. It doesn’t communicate the essence of me — my thoughts, my emotions, my connection with the subject matter. Have you been there? Are you there now?

Lucky for you and me, we’re in this together! If you want to get out of that slump, here are three (3) things you can try to change/adapt to open up opportunities to create. (I talk about writing but I think you can apply this contextually to any craft).

I think where a lot of artists fall off is honestly where a lot of things seem to fall off: at the point where adaptation becomes essential.

Perspective

The biggest thing that governs your craft is your perspective associated with it. How do you approach your writing? What does writing mean to you? What feelings and states does it bring about? Why do you write? Have your feelings changed? Why? Answering these questions can give you an idea of where you once were and how you got to this block. Being aware of your relationship to your writing can allow you the opportunity to realign or shift your perspective to fit your expectations of your craft. If you love writing poetry, but recently have been viewing publishing your work as a chore or a way to win approval, then you may experience a block because there was a shift. Either try to realign your relationship to your root perspective (because you love writing), or adopt a new one, like in the example of writing to cope with painful thoughts vs writing to express your thoughts, both good and bad.

Medium

Another component that tremendously contributes to the style and output of your writing is the medium. Do you love the feel of a pen gliding across the paper, or the sound of keys crunching beneath your fingertips? Or maybe you like the ease of jotting down thoughts in your phone’s Notes app, or transcribing the audible renderings of your story. Whatever your medium is, sometimes it may begin to hinder your progress. For instance, I personally love writing in a notebook because there is a deep sense of connectivity I feel pressing down on the paper, and seeing my words physically spelled out as I am thinking them. Call me old school. However, I have had to remind myself that sometimes I may be struck with inspiration in a moment when I don’t have access to a pen and paper, and I am fortunate to have a Notes app. I can always transcribe later if I want to. Also, practically, I get more out efficiently when typing on a computer. Changing up your medium may help your block because it provides a new way of expressing your art. Try handwriting your thoughts before you sleep, or typing into your phone while on the train/bus. I have never transcribed audio of my thoughts, but I am exploring doing so. Don’t restrict yourself to a particular mode or medium — explore different ways of expression.

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Mood

Lastly, but certainly not least, the mood or your environment could play a part in your writer’s block. I usually would plop on my bed and write to my heart’s content when I first started writing for this blog. However, I recently started using my computer at a desk because it just increases my focus, and it has a nice official feel to it. Sometimes, I light a candle. Other times, I snack while I write. What do you do to set the mood for your writing? Do you have to get rid of clutter before you can hone in? Must you complete all essential tasks first before delving into the recreational? Or do you need a good ol’ cup of joe to keep the gears grinding? Whatever it is, maybe it isn’t working for you anymore. Or, maybe it isn’t practical in all situations. I won’t always have a candle near me to light (I wish!) or be able to sit at a table. Being flexible with your mood means experimenting with different environments, or at least keeping yourself open to changes in those environments. It is okay to want to stick to that game plan that hasn’t failed you yet. I’m not telling you to give it up. Consider this a nudge to do that AND try using or discarding other things in your environment that could bring your writing to a new level.

One Last Thing…

Beautiful people, I must say this before I close. While these three things could help revamp your writing, there is one very important thing that trumps all of these and could benefit you, not only in your writing, but in any area of your life:

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Rest.

Yes, it is okay to take a break from writing. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. In fact, taking a break and basking in what you’ve already written is a great way of reminding you of the beauty of your craft. It can serve as a boost of confidence: If I can write these things that made people smile/cry/think etc., I can surely do it again. A break could be a couple of hours, days, months, heck even a year! You know what’s best for you and your writing process. We all deserve some rest.

There you have it: Three tips you can use alone or altogether that may help your writer’s block/artistic block. How do you deal with your writer’s block? Which of these tips do you see yourself trying out? Comment down below — I wanna know!

Fun fact: I tried one of these to break my block and write this post. Yay me! If I can, you can too!

Love, Delz

To Those Who Find Themselves Lost

To Those Who Find Themselves Lost

A book review and interview with the Author

Hi Guys! It’s been a while, but I’m back and ready to hold hands with you and be vulnerable 😀 This post will be a feature of a book I’ve read that I think you would appreciate, and a short, exclusive interview with the author herself! Can I hear “Girl Power!” on three please? I was very excited to read this book. Aschel and I are from the same island, Dominica, and we went to high school together (Big up our senior class 4A/5A real quick). While we knew each other, we weren’t close so the experiences penned in this book were all new to me, like they would be new to you. Even so, below you will find my 100% honest review and rating of the book. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

To those who find themselves lost is a book of poems written by Aschel St Ville, who is a poet, activist and pharmacy technician. The book is sectioned into three — The Bending, The Breaking, and The Healing — where you can explore Aschel’s journey of lows and highs; moments of sadness, realization, and coming of strength and womanhood. This book highlights themes such as women empowerment and vulnerability, and grants us a raw, unadulterated perspective of concepts such as depression/anxiety, shame, relationships, dreams, and self-love. 

“Some of us are silent because we lost so much the last time we spoke.”

-To those who find themselves lost by Aschel St Ville

In my excitement to read this book, I don’t think I was fully prepared for how raw and honest these poems were. I found myself at the end of The Bending sobbing. I sobbed for Aschel’s trauma, and I sobbed for my own, along with the other girls I grew up around who possibly shared similar stories that I wouldn’t have known because we’re taught to tuck these things away and never let them see daylight. This segment brought an awareness of the depth of brokenness trauma ensues, especially the one she spoke about. However, it also piqued my interest: I wonder how she navigated through this? And I kept on reading.

The Breaking is where you see Aschel’s pen truly come alive and the journey begins to arch. In this segment she bends the universe so that you and her are walking together through this period in her journey. She poses certain thoughts and questions that allow you to think of your own journey. Moreover, even in her writing of truly deep and low times, you can sense the glimmer of hope as we move along. Through her writing, and the lessening of pages, we are reminded that there is still one more segment to appreciate.

“Yes I am broken, but I am worth fixing.”

-TO THOSE WHO FIND THEMSELVES LOST BY ASCHEL ST VILLE

I think I appreciated The Healing segment out of all, not because it was lighter or “happier”, but because we didn’t see an abrupt change from one point of her journey to the next. There is a gradual shift, where there may still be pain, but we have new awareness now. There may still be sadness, but there are also things to celebrate. The Healing is a powerful reminder that life is filled with both sadness and joy, and it is perfectly okay. Throughout this segment, Aschel shares encouragement, her thoughts on self-love and other-centered love, and empowerment.

Something that I did not know would be included, but was so excited for it that I squealed (I really did), were extra blank pages. For those of you who are writers as well, whether it may be poetry like Aschel, essay or prose like me, or even if you just want to doodle, these pages offer you a chance to add your own story, your interpretation of how this book made you feel, or something else completely. Thank you for this unexpected gift Aschel! 

For Aschel’s first book, which is self-published, I give it 5 stars. It was wonderfully written and super transparent. I embarked on a voyage into Aschel’s experiences penned and was invited to feel what she possibly felt. Altogether, I finished the book feeling proud of her for her overcoming, proud of myself for my overcoming, and I think after reading, you too would be proud of your growth. ❤

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND POET, ASCHEL ST VILLE

SIMPLY DELZ: Describe yourself in four (4) words

ASCHEL: Four words I feel that give a very comprehensive description of who I am are: ambivert, empathetic, eccentric, introspective

SD: What is your writing process?

A: Extensive periods of intense inspiration and writing and also long periods of writer’s block.. I have bursts of inspiration throughout the day and whenever they come I write them down. When writing this book I actually dedicated several hours a day just to write and perfect some of the poems I had written before.

SD: What do you want people to take away from your writing?

A: Definitely, I feel like I want people to understand the value and beauty of vulnerability. My writing is very honest and raw. I want people to see first hand what it is like to put yourself out there unapologetically in all of your flaws.

SD: Who or what inspires you?

A: I am inspired by many female writers particularly Ijeoma Umebinyuo. She is a womanist and such a powerful woman who does not apologize for what she feels and writes. I see her as a woman who stands in her truth and exudes so much confidence. To be confident in who I am as a person has always been my life goal.

SD: Name one thing you can’t live without

A: Poetry for sure.

SD: What advice would you give aspiring poets/writers/creatives?

A: Continue to create. Do not compare your work to anyone else’s. Know that there is space and value in your voice and in your writing. And also I would love to see your work out there some day.

SD: Thanks! Can we expect a new project from you soon? (we hope so!)

A: Yes I am actively working on a new book. However, it won’t be released at least for another year. I am learning a lot from my first book release and still fighting Imposter Syndrome. But I always release new work on my IG page @sabrinajpoetry.

Aschel proudly holding a stack of her first, self-published book of poems

Hi! If you made it to the end, thanks for reading and supporting! Follow our IG pages for more content, and be sure to pick up Aschel St Ville’s book by tapping the link here. Have you read this book or another book of poems? Do you love poetry? Drop your thoughts below, and like & share this post!

Love, Delz

Lessons from Mom

Lessons from Mom

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Hey everyone! A happy happy Mother’s day to all the mothers and soon-to-be mothers! I love the days where we can celebrate our parents globally, especially mothers day because through so many stories, we see how motherhood is so emotionally and psychologically invested in — that children are perpetually tethered to the hearts of their mothers. Parenthood is such a sacred calling and it can be beautiful yet arduous, so shout out to all the parents out there, especially for today mothers, who are just out there trying to be the best for their kids. I see you. I salute you.

This year (specifically in October) marks 25 years of Lilia Cadette being a mother. Who is Lilia? Why, she’s my mother! Some of yall say mom and that’s cool but to me, she’s Mammy, and she’s amazing 😁 

My mom had me in Ukraine, where she’s from, and is of Bulgarian descent. She is quiet when you first meet her, but soon becomes the life of the party with her witty, dry humor and infectious laugh (which some have said I inherited). She walks to the beat of her own drum and is unashamed in who she is – major goals! 

Mammy and her three kids ❤

The more I grow into womanhood, the closer I’ve grown with my mom, and the greatest lessons I’ve learned from her were things I’ve observed over the years. Here’s 5 things I’ve learned from my dear mom 😊

Unconditional love

The first sign of unconditional love I saw from my mom was the fact that she left her job, her family, her country behind to follow my dad to Dominica. She didn’t know where Dominica was or that it had even existed before, but she loved my dad and wanted to be wherever he was. She expressed to my dad the words of Ruth to Naomi in Ruth 1:16, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.” This spoke to me even as a little girl the depth of love that can occur between two people. Moreover, my mother showed me the depth of love that occurs between a mother and her child. To this day, I can call my mom and tell her things I may be ashamed of or disappointed in of myself, or things that I am ecstatic for, and she is always willing to listen. She listened when I was going through a very rough time with anxiety during my sophomore and junior year of undergrad. She listened when I expressed my elation when I just started dating Francois. She has NEVER been afraid to express her opinion, let me tell you. Have you ever had the driest remarks ever from someone? She is Queen of dry remarks! But, she never fails to remind me, whatever her opinions, that she loves me and that I think is so important in any relationship — expressing how you feel with the intention of love and compassion.

One of my favourite pictures of my mother and me. Peep our matching watches

Determination 

Did you know that besides Russian and English, my mom knows a bit of Spanish and Hebrew? True story. I don’t know how good she is at them now, but just the fact that my mother learnt English on her own by having conversations with my dad, profusely reading, and watching and listening to English media, in order to help teach her child (me) English and get work in Dominica is pretty damn awesome. I think it is also cool to note that a doctor told my mom when she was younger that she may not be able to have kids at all, and God still blessed her with 3 kids. Though she expressed that the pregnancies weren’t easy and she had to have C-sections for us all, anyone who knows my mom knows that she adores her children and she does not regret a thing. We’re her miracle babies, and she’s our miracle mom. In other areas of her life, she has been determined to succeed as well. She was a straight A student in school and she also excelled in a male dominated field (electrical engineering). Through my mother I learnt the value in having more women in the workspace and in positions of authority — there is a delicate yet powerful touch women have to anything they put their minds to, and that I have that phenomenal touch as well. I would be remiss to not apply it diligently as she did.

Working the wires

Creating bonding habits for loved ones

Family time is super important to my mom. Growing up, I remember doing arts activities with my family like painting or collecting sea shells or interesting looking rocks for collections. We would go to the beach religiously every Sunday if it was sunny and we always had to eat meals together. I remember games that we would all play together too, and movies we’d watch while having snacks together. I must admit, sometimes it would be annoying when she would wake me up just so we could have breakfast together, or interrupt me on my computer so we could play cards or monopoly or Blokus (if you guys don’t know what Blokus is, you’re missing out!). However, as an adult, I see the value in it. Especially being far from her, I crave those moments of having game time with my family. Upon recent years, my mother and I had made a tradition of taking a walk on the Boardwalk in Barbados with Magnum ice cream bars, or drinking tea and talking about life. Now that I am in the US and she is still in Barbados, we set up times to video chat with tea to keep up the habit of spending quality time together. Other activities include eating Russian-style pancakes (Blini) with honey (so good!), calling each other on birthdays via Skype and Alex blowing out the candles for us, and going around in a circle toasting with sweet words to the birthday gal or pal. These beautiful moments are what I am definitely going to carry with me when I have children of my own — creating ways of bonding that my kids will remember always.

Us celebrating baby brother, Alex’s birthday while both my brother, Michael and I are in the U.S.

Don’t take yourself too seriously 

My mammy has an interesting sense of humour. When we’re together it’s non-stop laughing and it usually consists of us making fun of ourselves. I would tease my mom on how she may pronounce her words (like the way she says “sink” instead of think, or that she pronounces ball and bowl very similarly), and we’d do impersonations of each other — my mother’s laugh is HILARIOUS. The whole family does this, but my mom is the Queen of laughing at herself. She usually tells me “Don’t take yourself too seriously”, meaning ease up and live. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve made a mistake. If you fall on your butt, get up, laugh and try not to fall again. Life will always throw you curve balls and you may not duck in time. Some of them hurt like hell and should be treated seriously. Others just deserve a roaring laugh and some ice. I suffer from anxiety time to time, and my mom’s mantra of finding the joys in the little things and the funny moments even in chaos truly helps me live with a positive attitude.

Exhibit A of finding the funny anytime

Do what makes you happy

My mom loves adventure and appears to be care-free, and in a lot of ways she is. My mom would eat like 2-3 mangoes at a time (depending on the size) if it’s available to her, she would take a picture next to a sign saying no pictures, and she without fail does bunny ears behind my dad’s head every time we video chat together. My mom would ride all the roller coasters in an amusement park if she could while my dad lovingly watches her on the ground (HA!). She loves coffee, loves wine, and loves to dance no matter who’s watching. My mom isn’t afraid of what someone thinks when she is doing something she loves — and she constantly tells me to do the same. If you want to start a business, do it! If you love music, why don’t you pick up an instrument? If you love someone, tell them! According to her mantra, as long as it doesn’t bring harm to anyone, live your life to the fullest. You can’t be afraid of what people may think, because whether you do or don’t, people will always have something to say.

Goals!

My mom does what makes her happy, but most importantly, she has sacrificed a lot for the people who bring her joy. Thanks Mammy, for all that you’ve done to ensure that Michael, Alex and I are healthy and leading productive lives. You’ve taught me so much that I honestly can’t shrink into one blog post, but I hope that these 5 things I’ve listed give you insight into the amount of gratitude and admiration I have for you. 

To my readers, which lesson speaks the most to you? What lessons have you learnt from your mom? I’d love to know!

The Analogy of the Safety Pin

The Analogy of the Safety Pin

I love the analogy of the safety pin because it came to me while I was trying to fall asleep for the second time to no avail. And it just popped up. And I’m like thanks brain, but I wish you had given me this inspiration during the day when I was begging you to do so. Anyway! I liken the safety pin to things in life that provide catharsis or intervention. The safety pin is a tool used to fasten pieces of fabric together and comprises of a clasp that holds the pin and fabric in place; it comes in pretty handy, especially during fashion faux pas.

In order to use the safety pin, you first need to identify why you need it. What is it that requires you to use this tool? Is it dress straps that you need to hold in place, or maybe an accidental rip during the day and you need something quick to secure the fabric and save you from embarrassment. Whatever it is, you have to identify the problem. Why do you need your figurative safety pin? Do you feel alone, or maybe you’re having a tough day at work, or deeper than that, you’ve suffered trauma and recognize that it is negatively impacting your life. Whatever it is, admittance is the first step. You have to acknowledge that there is a need for the safety pin before you can use it.

The next thing that happens is opening the safety pin by removing it from its clasp. Opening up is super important. One of the most important and the most beautiful experiences is being vulnerable. It may seem scary, but it is being open about what’s in your heart and mind that will help the process of healing, or solving the issue. Even if it is as seemingly insignificant as having a crappy day because the secretary was mean to you for no reason! Expressing it validates your feelings and can lead to discussions about overcoming.

Here’s the part we all hate. In order for a safety pin to do its job, its sharp end has to pierce the fabric once to go in and once to go out. Sometimes vulnerability hurts. Expressing how you feel about an issue or trauma brings up thoughts, feelings and memories of pain, shame and a myriad of other intense emotions. And to really ensure overcoming, you might have to do it more than once. Personally, it’s the part I hate the most but respect the most. I hate it because it hurts and I’m scared of the outcome of expressing these intense emotions. But I respect it because of how it supports the opening up process. The pin must do this in order to position itself properly for the fabric to be held in place. Pain is an indicator of the realness and validity of you and how you feel. I respect this stage because of what happens next.

Fastening back to the clasp: The safety pin returns to stability. Its clasp does what it is designed to do, hold the pin in place. But now it is utilizing its other function: holding the fabric in place. Now we’re back to where we’ve started, only things aren’t how they were before this whole process. The issue is tackled, and we have overcome! Yes, when you get home you may want to actually repair the dress with some needle and thread, or if it’s too damaged, replace it with something of better quality, but for now your outfit is a bit stronger because of a little tool called the safety pin. 

Some of these posts may act as a safety pin for you — it may bring awareness to an issue, or expose your true feelings, or offer some level of comfort/healing, or all of the above. Safety pins are necessary. They are cool little tools. And they not only help fix minor issues or setbacks in our fabric, they remind us that there might be things we need to adjust, repair, replace, or discard completely.

Love, Delz