"The easiest thing to do on earth is not write." – William Goldman
Last weekend, I was bound and determined to devote two solid days to writing and nothing but writing! And, boy, did I give it the good ol’ college try. I sat down at my desk, opened my manuscript and stared at the screen. My characters were there, in the scene, just waiting to be directed. But what did I get? Basically, this…
I tried all my usual tricks – shutting the door to my office so that even the cats couldn’t disrupt me, moving to the living room sofa for a more comfy feel, visiting the local hipster coffee shop. Nothing worked! By Sunday night, I had given up – and not only because that’s my Downton Abbey time. No, I’d given up because the words just weren’t flowing for me. I have faith that the coming weekend will produce better results, but the whole thing got me thinking. What do others do when writer’s block occurs? So, I did some research. And by “research,” I mean I Googled it. Here are some common “cures” for writer’s block that I uncovered, along with my take on each.
1. Exercise. Exercise gets your blood flowing, which they say translates into creative energy. Tried it. Still didn’t write afterwards. But I did need a shower real bad.
2. Change your surroundings. I’ve considered going away for the weekend to see if, perhaps, a stay at a quaint inn might result in a creative surge. But, last weekend, my trip to the coffee shop only served to distract me. I listened to two fifty-something ladies discuss attempts to set one of them up on a date after the end of a lengthy relationship. She needs a morning person because her last guy was a night owl. Um…Okay. Oh, and we might be getting a taco truck here in the city.
3. Think of your project as a pizza: eat one piece at a time. Seriously? This amused me. And made me want pizza.
4. Read. So I can envy the success of someone who achieved what I presently suck at doing? No thankya.
5. Consume healthy foods and beverages. Wine has fruit in it, right?
6. Don’t force creativity. Finally, somebody’s saying something that makes some sense. I won’t even bother opening my Word file until I’m good and inspired! I mean, it’s not like I’ve got an agent out there who needs me to finish manuscripts so he can earn a living!
7. Eliminate fear. Sure, yeah. I’ll go give a public speech on the ledge of a tall building while holding a live snake. That'll do the trick.
8. Join a writing group. Because misery loves company! I’d be the first one saying, “I can’t focus! Let’s play cards.”
9. Think of writing as a regular job. Great! Nothing like coming home after an eight-hour workday and beginning a second eight-hour workday!
10. Work on multiple projects at a time. Nothing will help hone your focus like tackling multiple writing projects at once! Look how well that worked out for famous TV scribe Linda Bloodworth-Thomason at the end of Designing Women. (Oh yes, I totally just worked a Designing Women reference into my blog! I still think Judith Ivey never got a fair shake on that show.)
Okay, so I’m poking fun at all these tips and tricks that they’ve come up with to help us writers get unblocked. (I don’t know about y’all, but I never have liked “they.” They’re so full of themselves. They think they know everything, those “they.”) I don’t mean to knock any of this stuff, but it’s ultimately about harnessing your self-induced pressure so you can relax and focus on the only thing that really unblocks you, which is sitting your ass down and writing, for goodness sake.
My favorite collection of writer’s block advice is this piece, which gathers insight from various authors on the subject. It boils down to, simply, getting started, capturing ideas, realizing it won’t be perfect right away, forming a routine and – dammit – writing!
I’ll end with this, which I think sums it up nicely: "My block was due to two overlapping factors – laziness and lack of discipline." – Mary Garden
Anyone out there care to share how you battle writer’s block?