What was it I wrote in the hopeful, dewy-eyed early days of January? That chanting, copying and pasting, and acting confident would yield me lots of writing, O Me of Nonexistent Writer’s Block?
|Image found here|
That day, I defined writer’s block as “out of ideas.” Stalled. Ennui and paralysis. Of course that never happens to me, the hummingbird, with only two speeds–fast, and asleep.
Um, writer’s block can also be defined as highly-distracted, unfocused, Net-surfing behavior. That’d be a stalled writer right there.
The last few weeks I’ll find myself writing a sentence and stopping, then wandering somewhere else. I’ll have a short story open, my new dystopian YA novel open, and a blog post started. My email pings, and there I am. Full attention on anything but my priority writing for a good minute, and then I flit away.
Here’s the 4th strategy for New Year’s success, and it worked yesterday: set the kitchen timer for a half-hour or 45 minutes, and stay in the writing chair till it buzzes. If I’m tempted to close the page or navigate away, I say to myself, “Really? You can’t hang with this story for 30 minutes? Really?”
I slap my own hand and get back to work.
If you aren’t sure what fuels your writer’s block (distractedness, laziness, fear, self-hatred, paralysis, low self-esteem), cling to this: you’re probably stronger than you think. There have been some tough and ugly things you’ve done in your life. You’ve hung on and later said, “How’d I ever do that?” In other words, you might just have some grit.
As Todd Leopold of CNN writes in “The Success of Failure…,” “…being creative doesn’t require being Mozart. Stubbornness and practicality play a role, too. Studies of grade school and college students indicated they owed their academic success to such characteristics as curiosity, self-control, and what psychology professor Angela Duckworth termed ‘grit’–even if they were of average intelligence.”
And I bet you have a kitchen timer.
So if the simple strategy can be symbolized by a timer–that helpful device telling us when buns in the oven are done–it can be explicated thematically as a Ulysses’s pact: a decision made of our own free will that we demand others hold us to. In this case, us lonely writers must be both Ulysses and his sailors, but if that’s just too hard, don’t forget there’s that app Freedom that turns off your Internet or social networking access.
I mean, it’s great hummingbirds can fly 34 mph. It’s cool they can visit over 100 flowers a day or their hearts hit 1260 beats per minute; talk about racking up the numbers. But they also fly backwards.
Set that timer, Lyn. Set that timer.
This post is dedicated to the best mother ever who just sent her short story off to magazines. I’m proud of you, Mother!