Writers can be a strange lot sometimes—proclaiming to anyone who will listen that writing is their life, their reason for being, their legacy to the world. They talk about writing to friends and family, tweet hourly about writing to the Twitterverse, create fabulous jokes and memes about writing (and editing, writers really seem to not like editing)—but then, nothing. It’s as if someone’s hit the big pause button in the sky, freezing all writers in a limbo of inaction. I’m not talking about writers block per se, it’s more like a moment of suspended animation or brain freeze, where your thoughts have hit a huge traffic jam as they try and flow their way down to trigger action in your hands—and you just don’t move.
I suffer from this suspended animation syndrome frequently—whether it’s a minute writing effort like composing a tweet or posting on FB (I’m very conscientious to make sure I’m spelling correctly, using the correct word(s), trying not to offend—there are trolls out there and they’re scary…) or beginning a big new project (like starting book 3 🙂 ). I’ve found a few things to help me minimize and alleviate this writing inaction, I hope they help you:
- “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Gustave Flaubert Let’s talk about being orderly first. Just like a master chef prepares her kitchen for preparing a gourmet dinner, I’m a firm believer in getting things organized and ready to go when I write. It’s a quieting process for me to make sure I have my research at hand, note cards pinned on the board to remind me of who all these new characters are (I’m the worst with names in real life), light bulbs are working, and laptop is plugged in. I’m comforted by having everything in it’s place—if I know where things are, I don’t have to waste precious time or gray cells hunting things down. Organization can keep panic at bay—a good thing in my book. Panicked writers tend to not be very productive, this I know from experience.
- Create the writing vibe and mood you need. My writing woom is just about perfect, for now. I am constantly re-arranging furniture, changing pillow cases, adding new crowns (one can never have too many). My writing projects change, and so does my environmental needs to set the mood or vibe just right. For my book 3 project, I absolutely had to have a London phone booth bookcase that I found on Amazon—even if it meant getting some strange looks from my hubby. It may seem silly to some, but for me it gives the woom just the right vibe as I go into my fictional British writing zone. Note * My sweet hubby was converted to the #almostroyalside when he added lights to it—-phone booth mood lighting, who knew?
- Setting a schedule (and sticking to it): Writing is work no matter how you slice it. I have to organize my day to give me the time slots I need to get the writing done. If I don’t, I lose too much time getting lost in the social media or on-line shopping zones. I know that writing ideas and dialogue don’t just miraculously show up once I sit in my chair (some days are more loquacious than others). If I show up and sit down on a regular schedule however, I find that my internal floodgates get tuned in for what’s needed that day, and more times than not, send the ideas down from the vault in my writer mind. It takes weeks or months for something to become a habit—developing a schedule that works for you can facilitate getting into your writing zone habit.
- Dress to write. I’ve been through it all, learning how to dress for success, how to get a preppy or yuppie look (do you remember what a ‘dink’ is? double income no kids 😉 ), how to choose the right color palette for your skin tone. You don’t need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe to write, but I do think it’s important to wear the clothes and accessories that enhance your writing mood. My writing wardrobe allows me to bend and stretch, sit down on the floor, do an impromptu disco dance—writers need to get the blood flowing every now and then, your clothes should let you move. Just like Wonder Woman with her gold cuffs, I have some special jewelry pieces I wear too—quote necklaces that inspire me (Brave Girl, If you’re going through hell, keep going—love that Winston C.), earrings I bought in London, a beautiful crown shaped ring—little baubles that sparkle and shine, and make me smile.
- Writing books to re-fuel when you got nothin’: Sometimes it takes another book to raise your writing mind out of its self imposed suspended state. I recently started reading Stephen King’s On Writing; A Memoir Of The Craft, that overviews his viewpoints on writing, and what influenced him. It is comforting to learn from a master, getting his perspective, reading about his life experiences that changed and influenced him. Taking even 20-30 minutes to get out of your head every now and then does wonders (at least for me). Writer’s need to learn they’re not alone, everyone has been in the same boat.
I’ll close with two quotes from Twitterland that resonated with me the past few days—good advice from two masters of the writing craft:
- “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Stephen King
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain
Do whatever it takes to melt that brain freeze and get into the groove of your writing zone. Baby steps work.
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Featured picture today is my new London phone booth bookcase—-perfect place to put those extra crowns. Gemma would approve 🙂