You Should Never Be Stuck Again: Myths About Writer’s Block

I believe that writer’s block is an Urban Legend of Massive Proportions.

I am allowed to say this, because I myself have had writer’s block – or at least, I thought I did. I now know that it was all my imagination, or rather, it was the same imagining that lead our twelve-year old selves to have the flu the day we had to give a speech in class, or makes us sure we have appendicitis on Mondays.

Don’t be offended by what I’m about to tell you. But you probably have writer’s block because you don’t want to work.

Before you freak out over this, let me explain further: not wanting to work takes many different forms, and is rarely if ever a reason in and of itself. We don’t want to work BECAUSE – BECAUSE our words sound like only one third of our brain is working, or our fingers are sore, or we just got rejected and the world is a dark, howling wasteland, or the story we’re in the midst of is complete garbage…etc.

So how do you give yourself a kick in the pants, essentially, and get back to work?

In no particular order – because order has always been a gift outside of my reach – are some ideas:

For Finding Material:

1) Choose five things: ex. Teapot, tiger, purple, stars, Tallahassee. Write until you’ve found a way to connect them all to each other. Creativity is all about connections, and once you’ve jump started your brain into making some, your next writing will be much easier. Who knows, you might even crank out a short story based on your five things.

2) Set a time limit and browse: Pinterest, blogs, Flickr, anything with lots of images of mysterious, pretty, strange, or otherworldly things. If you find pictures that call to you, or especially ones that relate to your current work, save them on your computer to look at later. When your time is up, write whatever those pictures inspire.

3) Related: Make a pinterest board for your story. Pin pictures that look like the places and people in your head, then find the words to describe them. Set a time limit, lest  you get sucked into the endless void.

4) Take five minutes and run, walk, or bike as hard as you can. Shove everything out of your head except putting forth the absolutely maximum possible physical effort. This will refocus your mind. If you can’t leave the house, you can also try a mini workout, doing two minutes of a plank, two minutes of pushups, two minutes of squats, and two minutes of knee lifts, all at maximum output. You also might spy something while you’re out and about, or make a connection while frantically popping up and down, that will break through for you.

5) Find someone and create their story. Look at personal ads, random Facebook or Twitter pages, strangers in the store – wherever you can locate a few tidbits about someone else, and then start designing a life for them. What do they do? What is their house or apartment or condo like? Who do they love? What do they regret? You can do the same in a different way with news articles or songs.

To Get Work Done:

1) Stickers. Stickers are magic, people – at least if you’re anywhere near as maturity-delayed as I am. I give myself a sticker for every 1000 words, a bigger sticker for 2k, and an owl sticker if I get 3k in a day (that’s a major amount of writing for the kind of schedule I have, so it’s a special-occaision thing). I’ve been doing it for a week and a half, and haven’t missed a single day of writing yet, even on Migraine Thursday. I want my darn sticker!

2) Create some deadlines. If you’re not yet published, like me, you have absolutely no obligation to get anything to anyone, and that can be a dangerous trap of ever-shifting deadlines. So start committing to some things. Enter some contests, get connected with some guest posting on other blogs, anything you can find to jump into. Create yourself a schedule that requires output, and you’ll be surprised what you can produce under the pressure.

3) Give up. No, not forever, but honestly…sometimes it’s just not the time. If you can’t get the to-do list out of your head, knock some things off of it. If all you want to do is rip your hair out, go take a nap, or a shower, or cook something complicated enough that you have to concentrate on what you’re doing. Play the piano, buy some new shoes, bake cupcakes – whatever will refill your life-tank. You are not God and can’t produce something out of nothing. Get some somethings, and you’ll have a much better chance of making new things.

Wishing you all the Making of Things you could desire!

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