Friday, August 21, 2020

Writing Through the Rough Patches

Getting past stuck or numb or despondent or any other major block is as individual as the writer, I suspect. I carry a bag of tools around (virtually, y'know) to help when I sit staring at a blinking cursor for too long. Try a few of them on for fit.

1. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This is a 25 year old book about breaking through creative
blocks. It's still popular because for a lot of people, it works. I'm working through it myself, right now. If you try this, don't just read it. USE it. Even if it seems hokey.
2. Expeditions. No one creates in a vacuum. And sometimes all that's needed to shake the brain loose is a trip to a museum or art gallery or botanical garden. Maybe a hike in the woods or a trip to the beach. All safely masked and socially distanced, of course.
3. A break. I'm on writing hiatus this week - in part because another class of medication failed to prevent migraines and came with a host of really awful side effects. The weight of not getting the productivity I thought I ought to be achieving each day (while suffering chronic daily migraines) got to be more than sanity could support. Hence a little break. It's all good. I have a new med that seems to be helping and a little lightening of the load for a few days seems to really be shifting things. Don't overlook the power of a break to refresh you and your outlook.
4. Repetitive physical tasks. Bonus if they're outside. Many times, a block is little more than over thinking. Something I would know nothing about. 🙄 So I go out into the garden and pull weeds or plant flowers. Getting into the dirt is mostly a mindless task, but it takes just enough brain power to absorb the critical brain and leaves the subconscious/story brain free to do a little roving.
5. Create something else. Cook. Sew. Draw. Color. Paint. Build models. Whatever. Just make it something you don't make money from. No professional pressure. This is about wasting time on profitless (or so we imagine) play. You recover a little sense of joy in doing the things that aren't quite as fraught as writing.
6. Ask for an immersion weekend. Ask the fam to support and protect your weekend from all interlopers (including them). You need supportive and cooperative family for this one - because someone else has to take ALL responsibility for keeping life and limb together for a weekend while you do nothing but type as fast as you can on a story even if you don't know what happens next. The point here is to have people bring you things - tea, goodies. You're asking to be taken care of for two days while you let slip all responsibility for anything and everything. I won't pretend that guilt doesn't creep in. It does. Then you remind yourself that for two days nothing is your circus and those are not your monkeys. Someone else can handle them. Your circus is the story. Make it ridiculous just to see what happens.

It really helps to have an entire arsenal against stuckness. Not only do different people need different tools, what works for you one time may not the next, so having options tips this whole creating thing in your favor.

1 comment:

  1. My therapist keeps nudging me toward Cameron's book, but so far it just hasn't grabbed me. Maybe I'm using it, wrong (reading it?). How would you say I should use it? Like, just do the activities at the ends of chapters? Or just read the pull quotes in the margins?