Sunday, August 5, 2012

Great Expectations

You’ve only got an hour. The kids are dreaming of computer games and the song they added to their I-pod today. Hubby, in bed, is mumbling something inaudible from the next room. You’re poised at your computer, staring at a blank screen, coaxing the words to spill and move your fingers across the keyboard.

Only, nothing is happening. There’s a blockage somewhere between synapses and keystroke. No matter how much you strain to expel the magic, it sticks like some non-fibrous turd inside you. Before you push out a paragraph, you realize time is the only thing that has passed.

So much for great expectations.

I hate those moments of unproductivity. The opportunity is in place, but the creative juices are fixing a flat on the road to success. Not a tow truck is in sight. You are alone, wondering if you possess the skills to use a jack or if you possess the smarts to carry a spare.

May I suggest you do. You just have to remember where you stashed the devices to rescue you from the muddle.

I like the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. If it helps you, keep a list of solutions handy when you come to a standstill in your work, a proven set of ideas to coax you through the difficulty and remind you this state is only temporary. I employ the following strategies to aid me through writer’s block:
  1. Take a break – I know this is a frightening thought when you are on a deadline, but sometimes a walk around the block or a little sleep stimulates the thought processes and gets you over the hump.
  2. Munch – Eat some of your favorite foods. Nothing takes the place of chocolate when you need brain power and ideas. And your trip to the kitchen forces you to catch a break whether you want it or not.
  3. Move – Now I ask you, is sitting for hours without contracting a muscle conducive to optimal health and vigor of mind? Stretch and jog around your living room, at least, or if the weather permits, take the dog for a run in the park. Breath in, breath out—fill your lungs with oxygen. Your thinking cells will love you for the attention.
  4. Use other authors – Immerse yourself in a favorite book or go buy another one. Digesting someone else’s words might stimulate your own. Talk to another trusted writer friend who can urge you to try again or provide useful information.
  5. Take a knife to uncertainty - Doubt is such a thief. It robs you of your last ounce of courage. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to improve. Recite a mantra, something like, “I am a great writer” or “My words change hearts.” Say the phrase enough times until you believe the chant enough to tackle your work.
  6. Shift to another project – If you aren’t on a schedule, try writing something else. Play with words until they sing. Exercises in literacy are catalysts to greatness.
  7. Give yourself leeway – Who says you have to write what you outlined yesterday? Change things up a bit and allow what comes naturally to seep into your pros.
  8. Research – Hunt for information to fill the holes in your story you’ve been meaning to satiate, but only for a little while, just to distract your panic. Get back to writing as soon as possible.
  9. Write – If all else fails, keep writing. Even creating the worst paragraph allows you to rewrite. You can’t edit what isn’t visible. You might find anything is better than nothing on the paper. It jump starts you to improvement.
Have you used these suggestions yet? Don’t you feel better? If not, what are you waiting for? Now, go, expect something great. You can get there from here.

4 comments:

Dana said...

Wonderful tips!

Catherine A. Winn said...

Good advice :)

Bonnee Crawford said...

Yeah taking a break, having a much and doing some physical activity and getting oxygen are great to freshen up and get the creative juices flowing again. Stay hydrated! Or you end up with writer's block AND a headache!

All of these ideas are great. Switching to a different project I find can be helpful, and I NEVER write a plan without accepting the fact that I may deviate from it somewhere along the line. That's just the way of writing. It can get unpredictable and that is why leeway is good, especially if you are working on a deadline: don't start at the last minute!!!

And of course, keeping confident in yourself is key. :) Thanks for sharing, Peggy!

Jadzia Brandli said...

What a great list! I've used some of those before. I hate those moments when nothing comes and it can be so frustrating to realize how little progress you've made. I think it's a great idea to find those little things that help you to get writing again. Great post!