Create the conditions
It's nice to tap into the zeitgeist.
Recently there's been a flood of comments on a social media thread that started:
ABSOLUTELY BLOCKED WITH SO MUCH IN MY MIND! ALL MY BOOK IS QUITE IN MY HEAD, BUT FEELING BLOCKED... WHAT A MESS, WHAT A STRESS. ANY IDEAS ?
The crowd has loved it, tossing advice from all corners with a zeal I haven't seen in a good while. CAPITAL LETTER comments thrown straight back at him, more !!!!! marks than you care to imagine. There's been hearty backslapping, plenty of thank you, thank you's followed by you're welcome, you're welcomes, and a toing and froing more worthy of personal emails than a public networking forum.
Just reading the initial post made me feel messy and stressy, like the protagonist.
When it first came in, I thought, 'Ha! Here's one I can comment on ...' Of course, I was busy and like to think before I post. Yes, I know ... there was my first mistake.
By the time I'd gathered my thoughts, dozens of offers had come in. Here's a sample of three. (Their punctuation!)
> make a list for everyone of it with the details you have for each one. organize all the ideas. Naturally some will pop up for you to start with.
> Work on something completely different. Write a fairy tale, a product advertisement, or a how-to guide. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, it might get the writing juices flowing again. Don't stress. :)
> Before I start a story, I will make character sketches. Then have that character begin talking about his/her own life. Let them begin to tell their life story and pretty soon, you have several scenes to pick n choose from. My characters tend to come up with some great ideas, I never thought of. Had one the other day who surprised me. He lived in a big house, but has never been in his own basement. He's afraid of being trapped down there because he's too big to fit through the tiny windows used in basements. Up until that time, I envisioned the guy as being fairly slim. So had to go back to the original character sketch and make some changes. In other words, it helps to talk to your characters, and get to know each of them. VTY
All good suggestions, no? And the protagonist of this thread has responded with gusto gratitude.
But I'm wondering if it has helped him unblock? Sourcing tips, tools and guidance is so important to us as writers and creators of big ideas. But you can have all the books, blogs and blah-blah right beside you and still not get what you need to develop that idea, scene or character. And so, this blog begins now:
Creating the conditions is something we all need to do regularly. I'm still working out how to approach this aspect of my life. How much time is enough time? How regular is regular? How disciplined must I be about my creative practice?
Do I complete Sarah Selecky's daily prompts? (Indeed, if I hadn't dropped the SS ball soon after I started blogging about flow, would her 10-minute dailies be enough? I'm thinking they'd be a damned-good start, just as designed! In the few weeks that I consistently played Sarah's game, there was an energy and confidence to my writing that hasn't been there since.)
Do I create some space and time each week and stick to it no matter what? (My calendar tells me I have two hours on a Wednesday afternoon for 'creative time' but I aint been using it!)
Do I take myself on a week-long creating retreat? (And what happens to the rest of my life during that time?)
These are the questions all creative people face. And to continue to tackle them I turn again to Susan K. Perry. This from page 37 of Writing in Flow: 'By zeroing in on one or more of the right reasons—for you—you're more likely to find the one that will help you enter flow and keep writing in spite of frustration and rejection.'
The motivation can come from anywhere. But somehow we need to feel it so strongly that it competes with the other aspects of our lives that trump our creative side all too often. It's a good time of year to be reflecting on 2013 and dreaming about the year ahead. What changes can you make to arrange the conditions just a little more sweetly so you can stretch that creative streak?
Any tips, tools and thoughts welcome here ... just go easy on the capitals and the punctuation. ;-)
May your words pour onto the page,
If you're interested in starting 2014 with a bit of a jiggle from a short writing course, you might want to check out Writers Need Words. It's a three-step approach that you can take one-at-a-time, in your own time.