Hi Everyone, it’s Judith Couchman. My assignment for this year focuses on blogging about writing: technique; practical pointers, encouragement, and such. I hope this helps you on the writing journey.
Some people call it writer’s block. I call it writer blues. You just can’t face that writing project today, or tomorrow, or next week. Or you can’t think of a stunning idea. But a deadline looms, and you need a boost. A host of suggestions can help you get unstuck. But rather than overload your brain and schedule, I’m offering a few that work for me.
Plump Up Your Soul
You’re fatigued. Void of ideas. Bored with the manuscript. It’s time for a planned pause. Reboot your enthusiasm by taking time off—preferably a full day—to plump up your soul. Flee the computer, your work space, to pursue an activity you love. Bake a bunch, hike the hills, visit a museum, watch a movie in a theater, assemble your quilt or ship model, help a friend throw a party, tinker around in the garage, or serve food in a homeless shelter. Anything that satisfies, changes outlook, and elevates mood. Don’t think about writing. Just enjoy. Famed creative teacher Julia Cameron recommends participating in an Artist Date each week. She explains: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. . . . Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.” They return you to writing with renewed vigor.
The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear.—Daniel Defoe
Kill the Messenger
In Plutrach’s Lives, a frenzied messenger delivered a warning to King Tigranes that his enemy Lucullus approached to wipe him out. Tigranes grew so angry, he ordered the messenger’s head lopped off. Tigranes violated a code of war: Don’t shoot the enemy’s messenger. Allow him to return in peace. Wisdom prevails in the adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Especially if the messenger delivers at least bits of truth about you or your work. Truth we need to hear and act on. But sometimes it’s wise to shoot the messenger. Not literally, of course. But inside your head. When based on jealousy or other malicious motives, often the messenger and the originator meld into the same person. Don’t let damaging, ill-intended eruptions frustrate, freeze, or demolish your work. Kick them out of your mind.
When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.—Jodi Picoult
Pay Attention to Tiny Ideas
You need an interest-grabbing introduction. Nothing clever emerges. Or for that matter, nothing at all. After staring at the computer keys, your fingernails, and an ant on the window pane, frustration sets in. Eventually a mundane, tidbit idea shows up. You think it’s stupid. But don’t evaluate. Write it. Expand the teeny idea. Add what relates to it. Type it down a rabbit trail. Build a story. You’re warming up and tiny might morph into tremendous. Sometimes the small thought forms the tip of a stunning theme your subconscious slowly breaks through to your above-the-surface self. Value the tiny idea. It might whisper something big.
Ideas are, in truth, force.—Henry James
For ideas from Writer’s Digest, go to 14 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.
Judith Couchman is the author/compiler of 42 books and Bible studies. She’s also a speaker, writing coach, and college professor. Currently, Judith is writing 365 Ways to Keep Writing & Loving It. Her website: www.judithcouchman.com.