Day 11 – How To Get Past Writers Block…

I will admit, today I don’t feel like writing.  It’s cold out, really cold for this time of year in Connecticut.  We are in the grips of another “polar vortex” which basically means it’s not even Thanksgiving and I have my winter coat on.  I worked today, went out to dinner with Jay to celebrate his new job, and all I really want to do is sit on the couch, have a cup of tea and eat the rest of the cookies that AC and I made this weekend (see Day 9) while I wait for my beloved Sons of Anarchy to come on.  However, if I don’t write I will be even more upset tomorrow that I have not met my goal, and so soon into the challenge at that.  For these 100 days, I have a list of about 60 ideas for the postings already, but I haven’t had to really go back to it very much.  Writing happens with me very organically.  I can usually pick a topic in my head that day, kind of do the major points in my mind and then sit down, write a post and be pretty happy with it minus some small editing during the second or third read through.  However, when I can’t think of anything to write, like today, it is almost impossible for me to just get something down on paper.

So I went back to my list.  I had sent it out to a very few people to get their input and see if they could add to my ideas.  One of the topics that my little sister sent me in her response was just this – “How To Get Past Writers Block”, saying that it was obviously something I have done.  At the time when I read her suggestions, I kind of put that one to the side.  I’m not really a writer I thought to myself.  I don’t have long stints of sitting at a blank screen, I don’t have the pressures of an advance or a publisher or even many readers for that matter.  I wasn’t sure I could really relate to the writers block that others have.  That crippling inability to put thoughts and shapes to the page.  But as I thought about it today, the topic started to take form in my mind.

I do kind of have a process for getting through those times that are hard for me to write, I  do consistently have some behaviors that I feel do help me, and maybe my process might make sense to someone else.  As I thought about it more, it’s not just for writers block that I do these things, I did them in school when I couldn’t focus on studying, I do them now when I need to compartmentalize the various things I have going on, and I also do them when I’m having trouble writing.  So for what it’s worth, here’s a brief glance into my process…

  1. Make a plan –  I don’t mean this in any kind of super organized and detailed way.  Not for me anyway, and not for a blog.  Although I do have an outline for my book manuscript and I’m sure others need them for larger work.  But in general write down your ideas for the next few posts.  If it helps, keep a notebook or ideas that you can stash in your purse or car.  I often use the “notes” feature on my phone to jot down ideas because it’s convenient.  It’s hard to go in totally cold to writing, so having some kind of plan, whatever works for you, will help in the end.
  2. Walk away –  Just don’t write for a couple hours.  Do the dishes, watch a crappy movie, read a magazine, go on Pinterest, whatever.  Just don’t write.  Get it out of your head and amazingly a lot of the time, this is enough to get past whatever mental block I’m having and reset my mind so that it can maybe start the creative process again.  However, don’t walk away for too long.  Don’t let it get so long that you don’t write at all that day, or that week, or that month.  That’s not taking a break, that’s giving up.
  3. Just write something –  The wonderfully quirky Anne Lamott tells readers that you have to write.  Write anything.  She also says you will have a ton of shitty first drafts, and shitty second drafts at that.  It doesn’t matter.  Keep writing.  Having something down on paper is better than having nothing down and when you begin to write, you will find that you may hate a ton of what you have, but there might be one or two sentences in there that are genius.  Those little victories are what you need to hang on to.  Those small glimpses of the brilliant people we can be, make writing 6 shitty first drafts worth it.
  4. Eat something – I know, I know, it’s primarily a food blog and of course I will bring it back to eating.  But it’s true.  Having a snack or a glass of wine or cup of tea help me to relax.  In turn, that makes it easier to get ideas and topics down.  I do some of my best writing in the morning when I’m fresh and full of energy, or at night, after I’ve eaten, when I’m sitting in the living room with Jay and just typing while we watch some TV and have some tea and a cookie.  Something about that, maybe it’s like that after school snack you got before you started your homework that is ingrained in our minds, but it works.

Happy writing!

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