**This is a late post from yesterday. Too much tryptophan to stay awake long enough to finish the post.
“When your income depends on your ability to write, whining won’t get you anywhere.”
–Melissa Karnaze- From her article, “Why writer’s block is your secret weapon.”
So, today is Thanksgiving Day. My most favorite holiday of the year. Why you ask? Because I am what you would call a “Food Fatty.” I love anything and everything to do with food, and today is the mother of all days to celebrate it. The adventure of new recipes. The unlimited supply of taste testers waiting with greedy spoons. The drooling, especially. Then, at the end of the day, once those recipes have been weighed, tasted, and enjoyed, hanging in the air is still yet the hope of reinvention; of new delights to be made from the old.
Most years, when I don’t have to work and have the entire day as my own, Thanksgiving always begins the same. Just before noon, I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and haphazardly do my hair. I laze my way into the kitchen, wipe clean all my countertops, and then begin pulling pots and pans from their dark cubbard homes. From the fridge, from the freezer, and from grocery bags left on the dining room table the night before, I grab all my needed ingredients and the day’s adventure begins. Usually, I spend the most of my day baking pies, boiling greens, and developing different tasty concoctions to try out on my unsuspecting family. They love it; they know it.
However, this year, on this perfectly weathered, tempered fall day, my mind is not on Thanksgiving yummies and new food adventures. Instead, it’s clouded with thoughts of the masters program I want to get into and the writer’s block that’s going to keep me from it.
So, instead of focusing my energies on layered pumpkin cheesecakes drizzled with a cranberry Pinot Noir reduction, or rosemary infused mashed potatoes, I will turn all my efforts to finding the top five ways to over come writer’s block. I will spend this Thanksgiving holiday de-bugging my brain and re-programming it for literary success…while gorging on yummies prepared by my Grandmother, Mother, and Father alike. Can we say, “mmmmmmmmmm!”
Okay, below is listed the top five, most helpful tricks, and articles, I read in relation to overcoming writer’s block.
1) “Why Writer’s Block is Your Secret Weapon,” by Melissa Karnaze.
I had already looked through four or five different blogs and web pages about the best ways to end the block when I stumbled upon this little diddy. This article, let me tell you, is like the writer’s block boot camp. It will shake that foggy headed, dream ending bother right out of your head.
In this article, Karnaze is merely commenting on posts from another article, the master to grass hopper to us, titled, “Habits, Heavy lifting, and the Possibility of Suck,” by John August.
In the above webinar/ transcribed article, August states ever so bluntly, “You know who gets writer’s block? Non-writers. They think it’s cool and romantic to struggle to make Art. They make sure everyone knows how torturous the process is, so when they finally squeeze something out, it won’t be judged on its merits but rather the emotional anguish involved in its creation.”
I think this statement alone could sum up my writing career. Whether it be as a student writing a midnight cram paper for an English class at eight the next morning; or, as an amateur novelist looking for any reason not to complete the next chapter in my book. Which, consequently, would bring it that much closer to completion, and possible rejection.
The above article by Karnaze, while a spin-off, and somewhat defense, of Augusts’ original piece, is just what the doctor ordered when some tough, critical lovin’ is needed.
2) Directly from the pages of the writer’s monthly bible, Writer’s Digest, comes our next best piece of advice for shoeing away the cobwebs and reigniting the creative juices.
From the January 2011 edition of Writer’s Digest comes the article, “How to get Unstuck: Your 6-step Plan,” by John Dufresne.
The step I found particularly helpful in this article was, “Step #2: Recharge the Battery. In this section Dufresne encourages that to overcome the impasse, you need to get “excited again by your characters and themes, and by the nut of the nascent narrative.” He stresses that when boredom begins to set in, take the time to re-introduce yourself to the characters you created. Ask yourself why you wanted them in your story in the first place? Why did these characters and this story line call out to you when others faded by the wayside.
The most helpful tidbit is the direction he gives to “have a notebook where you record notes for your work […] and write your answers to all these questions in its pages.” When you have a busy life like me, with only the wee hours of the night to write, and when your mind is ready to start pushing overtime, a notebook like this will definitely get my cogs o’churnin’ again.
3) Ooh! Here’s a good one, Number Six on Ginny Wiehardt’s “Top Ten Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block.”
Wiehardt says to “Examine deep seated issues behind your writer’s block.” This I think is one of the best ideas I have seen all day. Most common cures for this generic ailment are run of the mill things like “take a walk,” “make a writing schedule,” “sit on your hands, hold your breath, and count sheep.” Okay, I made that last one up, but you know what I mean. They are things that really only scratch the surface of our problem and never really get to the root of it so we can make some true progress.
If I were to look at the seed of my block, I’d say that my biggest problem is fear. I am afraid that I am losing my ability to craft intelligent, witty, moving stories and that my gift with language slipping away. It’s like so much of my time is now taken up by work and family and sheer exhaustion that I don’t have time for brain building activities: Reading, Boggle, Puzzles, etc… As a fellow writer have you ever opened your mouth to engage in conversation, or sat down to begin an essay, and stopped yourself short because you realized you were grasping at straws when trying to create a coherent sentence? It’s a horrible feeling sensing the best part of you slip away; and, so, I subconsciously induce writer’s block to keep from seeing my secret pain sprawled across paper.
Your turn. We’re all friends here
2) This one is a personal entry. It’s not from another blog or magazine article. No, this one’s straight from me to you.
It runs along the same line as number three. Once you have realized what is prompting your writer’s block, find a way to weed that source right out of your life.
Personally, here are my goals to over coming my day-to-day dose of block:
a) Create one blog entry everyday, if possible. If it’s not possible, then one every other day.– Routine is healthy. If you get used to regularly giving life to your thoughts, then when you want to write something poignant, something really good, you already have the natural flow. You can’t be scared to do something you’ve got down pat.
b) Check out online journals/magazines like Publishers Weekly and Writer’s Digest. — If you familiarize yourself with the market, then you know what the publishers are generally looking for, and you can use those specifically targeted pieces to get your foot in the door. You won’t have to worry as much about rejection because you are writing for your target audience (not to say you won’t ever get rejection letters). Then, once you have a nice start to your portfolio, you can begin to write your own bill.
c) Grab yourself a nice bottle of Cabernet, or your beverage of choice, and sit down to write out a list of thought-provoking books you would like to get through by the end of the year. My grandmother has a list of over 100 amazing books that I have yet to read. Once she sends it to me, she’s an economics professor with an eye for remarkable literature, I can post it if anyone is interested. She has roughly over 100 books, and it is my goal to be through them all by the end of 2012. –Reading stimulates the mind, having more than ten books creates a routine, and by switching up genres, you keep yourself from getting bored while broadening your horizons.
1) Last but not least, number one comes from a culmination of articles.
I remember reading back in March earlier this year an article in Writer’s Digest about the top ten ways well-known authors overcame their writer’s block; however, I can’t find that edition now. So, I searched online for an article based on the same concept. What I found was a blog created by Sabina Nore, titled, “Conquering Writer’s Block.” It’s a good laugh and an ode to the eccentric. Though, when you are faced with the vain of any writer’s existence, who isn’t willing to get a little eccentric…while having a good laugh.
**My favorite one from the above mentioned blog, and the WD article I can’t seem to find, is the rotting apples in the desk. I talked to my grandfather about it, who knows everything about anything, and he said it might have been the smell of fermentation that caught Fredric von Schiller’s eye, or nose rather. He said that when apples rot, they begin to break down and the sugars begin to ferment, and there is a sort of sour sweetness in the air that comes from the alcohol being created within the rotting fruit. Essentially, when Von Schiller breathed in the fumes from the rotting apples, he was breathing in a minute amount of alcohol each time, and that could also be the reason he was able to loosen up enough to forget the writer’s block.
Who knows, but it is awfully fun to think about.
Okay, well, it is getting late, and I have enjoyed our time together.
I hope that these tips are able to benefit you in some way. I know they have helped me.
Until next time, have a great weekend.