At some point or another, any writer will tell you that they’ve suffered from writer’s block or just lack of motivation. Every artist goes through those doldrums where they just can’t seem to flow. I know I do. I struggle with finding the right words sometimes or feel a general lack of oomph. At the end of a long day dealing with bitchy clients, it’s hard to find the motivation to sit down and put the time in. Sometimes I manage it; sometimes I don’t. Some writer friends of mine are lightning fast. They can sit down and hash out 5-10K words a day a day and put out a novel every three months. That would be cool one day, but I’m not there yet. Right now I have a full life and a full schedule and writing kind of orbits that. Don’t get me wrong; the passion is there. The LOVE is there. I want to tell stories. I daydream about the alternate worlds in my mind. The writing bug has bitten me, and there is zero evidence that the sickness will pass. It’s a bit of a compulsion. I get up in the morning, and I am like, “MUST WRITE.”
This week I’ve been chugging along at a nice pace. I’ve done a bit of rearranging so that writing can take precedence. I’m playing with some new ideas, employing technology. I figure that if I can use a FitBit to track my daily steps and heart rate, I can use an app to track my words. Word Keeper is a pretty nifty iOS app that gets the job done. I put in a goal of 500 words a day and have been keeping to that.
As a graphic designer, I have grown beyond needing inspiration to create. Most days I rely on experience and discipline to get me through. Inspiration still plays a role, of course, but it’s not needed. And that is where I want to get to with my writing. I want the flexibility to be able to sit down and work with as much ease as I sit down and design. That, however, takes practice. Lots of it.
Everyone wants to write a novel, but in truth very few will manage it. It’s a long, lonely slog that requires inspiration, determination, and the planning skills of Amenhotep. I geeked out there. Anyway, yeah, novels are the great pyramids that writers build (all the time). Truly I am in awe of writers who have figured out how to bend space and time and produce a ton of books a year. I mean I’m not talking the Nora Roberts or the Pattersons of the world who employ dozens of ghostwriters. I’m talking about prolific indie authors like Rick Gualtieri, Donya Lynne, Eden Connor! Wow. They not only write a lot, but they also produce excellent reads–consistently! They blow my mind. These guys are role models for anyone like me who is starting out. Read their books; you won’t regret it.
So getting back to building pyramids…
I’d like to talk a bit about inspiration. For me, it comes in two forms: NATURE and TRAVEL. And when I can combine the two, magic happens. Fireworks go off. I’m one of those people that needs a shift, sometimes a very physical change in location, to get going. Since my late teens, I’ve made travel a priority. On a good year, I collect two visas on my passport, on a bad year, just one. Anyone who knows me will tell you that the only way to reset me is to put me on a plane. I work so I can save so I can travel. It’s seriously that cut and dry. Travel opens my mind to new people, new experiences, new flavors, new sounds–which to me are the building blocks of creativity. How can you expect output without input?
Nature is the other big one. I love gardening. I love the woods. I love all things green. I love getting my hands dirty and feeling that exhaustion that comes from knowing you’ve just connected with the earth; with something primal and (for all intents and purposes) eternal. The energy that I feel when close to nature is undefinable. It’s pure, unadulterated joy. And when I’m happy I’m creative. I’m creative when I’m down in the dumps too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something magical about sunlight. Winter months get dreary for me, and I have a very hard time doing anything. UV lamps help. SAD is very real.
Alas, I digress.
One of my coping mechanisms when it comes to writer’s block is just to wait it out. I can’t emphasize enough how bad this habit is. Waiting for inspiration to strike is like waiting for lightning to strike on a specific day at a specific hour in a particular place. Don’t do this. Be like me and start getting out of this habit. The only way to get past writer’s block is to GET PAST IT and write. I wish I would take my advice sometimes and just sit my ass down and work through it–by writing, not waiting. The goal lately has been to divert to another story or just write a blog post. See what I did there?
That’s what this blog post is all about. Behold the GREAT NARCISSE, by the time she has finished writing this sentence; she will have freed herself from the ugly shackles of writer’s block.
See? It works every time.