“Getting ready to get ready” — that’s one definition of procrastination that really strikes a chord with me. It sounds just the way I manage to fuss and delay when I’m having a hard time getting my motor going.
When this happens, it’s tempting to give in to the impulse to put off a writing session, isn’t it? Here’s the good news: there are simple tricks or tools we can all use when we are feeling stalled and less than inspired.
Here are a few that might prove helpful:
Start by starting: Sometimes just sitting down and doing what you always do is enough to defog your mind and activate your creativity. Here’s where having a simple writing ritual can help. Hemingway used to sharpen his pencils and lines them up beside him. Another writer started every writing session by reading a few pages from Huckleberry Finn to inspire and fire up his engines.
Write a mini-story: Here’s a simple strategy that’s fun and freeing—write a story for ten or fifteen minutes. I like to pick three words totally at random and then weave a story out of them. It’s a very low-key challenge, a kind of five-finger exercise, that seems to perk up m;y little gray cells. Just dip into a dictionary or newspaper story or novel and you’re good to go. Sometimes surprising results burst forth.
Write two sentences: A fellow writer just shared this strategy from another fellow writer—just love our tribe! Easy does it once again. Just write two sentences and more often than not, you’ll find yourself writing a third one and then a fourth.
Interview a character: This a lot of fun and it can be very helpful and even revealing. If you feel stalled, simply turn to pen and paper or fire up a new document on your computer and launch a Q & A dialogue with a character—preferably one who’s been giving you a hard time. You may learn exactly where you are going astray because the character will set you straight about who he or she is and wants.
Are there any tools or strategies you find especially helpful when getting started is tougher than usual? I’d love to hear about them as we all write on!
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