06 January 2012

Top Five Friday: Breaking Writer's Block

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. 
~ Vladimir Nabakov

Day six of the new year ~ are you still psyched about realizing your dreams and goals!?  I have to admit, I’m not quite as energetic about it all as I was when I was laying out my goals and planning how to reach them.  A faulty thyroid, a severe vitamin D deficiency, and a low iron count may be contributing factors, but honestly, reaching any goal, no matter how badly we want it, involves sacrifice and hard work. 

Stares at a blank page for an hour.

What I wouldn’t give for Harry Potter’s wand!

Checks FB four times in that same hour.

Actually, what I wouldn’t give for J.K. Rowling’s brain!

Page still blank.  And now throat is dry.  Pours herself a drink.

Ok, there must be a better way than this to get motivated to write.  For crying out loud, six days in and I haven’t written one, single, bloody word!  The brand new journal is blank.  My poetry book hasn’t been written in since God only knows when.  My folders for blog posts has moths flying out of it.  And my pens and keyboards are covered with a fine film of dust.

Ok, Maybe it’s not that bad.

Looks at blank sheet of paper.

Maybe it’s worse!  What is an earth-bound muggle writer to do!?

And voila!  My own writer’s block is broken and I have my top five list for you today: Mikaela’s Top Five Ways to Break Writer’s Block.

I love reading book reviews; a good one can be like Cliff Notes, giving you enough of the book to give you a flavor and the desire to read more. Tia Bach over at Depression Cookies recently read and reviewed Stephen King’s On Writing.   Tia pointed out that Stephen King reads a lot of books and he recommends that writers read a lot of books.  It’s an old but true proverb: the best writers are well-read.  Meaning, they read.  A lot.

Just Write
Stephen King writes 1,000 words a day, and there’s rarely a day he doesn’t write.  Now, perhaps 1,000 words a day is too much to tackle.  So make it 500.  Or maybe a timer works better.  Set a simple kitchen timer for 20 or 30 minutes, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and don’t stop writing until the timer goes off.  Don’t worry about perfect prose and elegant poetry.  Just put words down on the page.  It’s amazing how doing this unlocks topics and connections you hadn’t thought of before; you won’t be able to stop writing.  The key is to write the same amount of words every day.

Get Active
Sometimes you just need to step back and get a different perspective on what you’re writing about.  Get outside and take a walk.  Or a jog.  Dance with your children, play with your dog, hug your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend.  Just get away from the desk, breathe in some fresh air, and get the blood pumping.  But don’t dilly-dally.  Once you feel rejuvenated, get back to the desk and start writing again.

Talk to a Friend
Criminal Minds is one of my favorite TV shows, and I don’t watch a lot of the idiot box.  Right now I’m on Season 5 of the DVD set from Netflix.  Every episode my respect (and perhaps a little envy?) of their writing team grows.  And I realized something: it’s a team effort.  Most writers will tell you that the art and craft of writing is a solitary endeavor, and for the most part I agree.  But I have seized upon some of my best ideas when bouncing things off of fellow writers.  Sullivan is writing more poetry then blog posts these days, and we still get together as often as we can to watch the spark of creativity explode into some great projects. 

In this plugged in age, you would not believe the benefits of just sitting in silence.  No text message beeps, no voicemail dings, no vibrating hum ringtone, no electronic hum at all.  The human brain can only handle so much.  Turn things off, get comfortable, and just breathe.  Empty your mind of your to do lists, schedules.  Breathe.  Relax.  Focus on one thing only: that you are loved and accepted by God ~ however you understand Him. Do this for 15, 20, 30, or even 60 minutes once a week, and you’ll be surprised at how much calmer you will be.  And when your body is calm, your mind is calm.  And when your mind is calm, oh the ideas you’ll think!

What about you?  Do you have any tried and true methods for breaking writer’s block?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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