We’ve all been there: We feel stuck, blocked, uncreative, unable to move forward on the page. At a recent Write Group session called “Having Fun with Writer’s Block,” Michelle Cameron, co-director of The Writers Circle, offered helpful advice for freeing your muse. The Writers Circle runs writing workshops and ongoing programs for adults and teens throughout New Jersey (www.writerscircleworkshops.com). I took a great workshop on bringing stories alive through the senses a while ago (see Roasted Figs).
My writing buddy Carl Selinger attended Michelle’s program on writer’s block and was kind enough to send me a fantastic summary from which I’ve pulled some helpful tips:
Ask yourself two questions: Sometimes our writer’s block is self-imposed: We put obstacles in our own way. We’ve all voiced our version of the would-be writer’s lament: “I don’t have time to write” or “I need a chunk of time to write.” Two questions had a life-changing impact on Michelle. Question #1: How much do you want it? Question #2: How early can you get up? After asking herself these questions, Michelle began getting up at 4:30 in the morning and writing for two hours. The message: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. With a dose of determination, you can come up with a strategy that works.
Make a date with the muse: Give yourself permission to view your writing as important, then act on that commitment. (see Muse Management — one of my favorite posts!) Until you sit down and write, it’s not writing. Tricks for dogs and writers: “Sit. Stay.”
Give yourself a set time for writing: Forward motion matters. Even if you write just 10 minutes a day, you’re making progress. So, if you can’t devote a large chunk of time to your writing, start with 10 minutes daily. Over a week, 10 minutes a day adds up to an hour+.
“Trick yourself into writing:” If you’re having a hard time focusing or sitting down to your work, then get creative! Find ways to cajole yourself into a writing frame of mind. Sometimes, as Michelle noted, this may involve writing something that’s not related to a specific project you’re working on in order to prime the pump.
Write to soothing new-age music: This is one pump-priming exercise that can be very fruitful. Listening to soft instrumental music can be a great tool for brushing away mental cobwebs and encouraging your creative juices to flow. Just let the music carry you through a free-writing session where you let your thoughts bubble up without any editing and see what emerges.
I think the operative term here is “fun.” If we can be playful rather than anxious when we hit a rough patch in our writing, we’re far more likely to find a way to get past it with a minimum of stress. Thanks Michelle and Carl — and write on!