Monday, May 8, 2017

Craft of Writing: Staring at the Page.

Image from Pexels
Sometimes writing comes to us pretty easily. Sometimes it is all we can do to keep up with the muse. And then there are the day where we feel like we're thinking through mud and honestly questions what we were thinking about attempting to be an author business.

I have been having more days where I stare at the computer with this horrible sense of dread that I must write SOMETHING. And my mind goes blank. Writing the Morning Pages exercises, as encouraged by Ms. Cameron in her book The Artist's Way, has even become difficult. It fills me with a sense of failure.

The amazing thing about being a writer, however, is that you have options. You don't have to write great work all the time. You can just sit down with a super cheap notebook and an even cheaper pen to write about how much you hate the writing process right now. I'm learning to be more flexible in what I do for my prepwork for writing. Just today, I sat down and colored in a wee little coloring book for about 15 minutes. I can't say that it cured the sense of writer's block that I have right now, but it did help. It showed me that I can still be creative, even when I am struggling in my preferred arena.

I am also doing things like making myself a schedule for writing time every day. I am one of those people who get cranky and in a foul head space when they don't get any writing time in on a given day. If I let it go too long, I then move into a sense of depression. As a person who struggles with Bipolar (and am presently slogging my way through a depressive episode), making regular writing time is a big thing for self care.

Self care is the key to getting out of that mental prison called writer's block. Sometimes writer's block is a minor form of burn out and your brain is forcing you to take a break. Sometimes writer's block is a manifestation of an underlying problem (in my case, it is a sign that I am going into or am presently in a depressive episode). And, sometimes, writer's block comes about because you are bored with what you are working on.

Boredom is not good for the creative person. It can kill. I think this is why Ms. Cameron so strongly encourages the people who are working through the Artist's Way to do things like take themselves on 'Artist Dates' and go do something novel or fun instead of keeping their noses to the proverbial grindstone.

Funny thing about grindstones and whetstones, you have to keep your blade at the proper angle and concentrate all the time on what you're doing. If your attention wanders or you just try to do it out of simple habit, you will mess up the angle on the edge of the blade and make something that is useless. As a result, you'll have to start the whole process over again.

So, when your attention begins to wander (which is one of the signs of writer's block), take a moment to back away from the grindstone and take a break to refresh yourself, this way you can reapply yourself to the task later with the same high level of attention to detail that you can accomplish when all is well.

No comments:

Post a Comment