Friday, September 30, 2016

Finding What Works

Shortly after my daughter was born (2000), I asked my husband for Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, and received it that Christmas. I eagerly plowed through it and began to follow her advice of doing morning pages. But, since I am not a morning person and usually don't roll out of bed and write first thing in the morning, I tweaked it so it would fit my life.

For a couple months, I used this technique to "get the gunk out" before writing sessions. In the same way that you stretch your muscles or do warm-ups in preparation to exercise, writing morning pages was a way to wake up my writing brain and get it ready to work.

And then life happened and I never got back around to doing morning pages again. A shame.

A week ago, I was lamenting this horrible block I get whenever I think of sitting down to write, well, anything. I freeze. Even to write a blog post was difficult. Why, I thought, am I having this problem? I'm sure resistance, which Steven Pressfield speaks about so well, was part of it. Fear, as well. Heck, it could be a bunch of things. But in the end, I had to do something about it. I had to figure out a way to bust through that resistance and just get on with the writing.

So, what did I do? I went back to a tried and true method: morning pages. And you know what? It worked.

I use morning pages as kind of a freewriting time. I put down whatever I want - stream of consciousness, thoughts about my day, ideas for my characters or plot, etc. It has a way of blowing the cobwebs out of my mind. Now, before I sit down to write, I always spend at least 5-10 minutes on writing my "morning pages" (though in truth, it's usually early or late night pages!). Since I've started doing this again, my writing has been much more productive and I've been able to keep the resistance at bay.

What about you? Any methods you use for overcoming the dread of sitting down to write?

8 comments:

  1. Writing in the morning works really well for me when I am drafting. I feel like my inner editor is still asleep and stays out of the way while creativity takes over! :)

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    1. I wish I could write in the morning. I've just never been a morning person. :)

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  2. I find changing up my routine helps: how I write or where I write or even just how I spend my free time. A walk in a different park or a visit to a museum is sometimes enough to spring something loose. It's like the change tricks my brain into forgetting it's stuck.

    In fact, I've been struggling with revisions on my novel for the last couple of months. I knew something wasn't quite right with it but I couldn't pinpoint what needed to change. After a while, I just started avoiding it because it was such an exercise in frustration. Sure enough, as soon as I started packing for my UK trip, it hit me what was wrong and how to fix it. I quickly scribbled some notes, and once I'm over my jet lag, it's nose to the grindstone time again.

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    1. It's amazing how a simple change from our ordinary routine can jar things loose. I was feeling the most extraordinary block last week when I decided to start doing some writing prompts. It was like I let the air out of the anxiety balloon - I felt SO much better after I'd done that.

      Walking in different areas is another favorite of mine, too. I'm so glad you had such a fantastic time in Wales and that you've figured out the novel problems!

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  3. I have not written in months and wondered if I ever would again. Then last week I offered to critique a friend's book. That process has motivated me again or at least has me thinking about what I would write. :)

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad, Terri! You're a terrific writer. :)

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  4. As a journalist I can't go there - I have to be able to write! But often I just write a bit of diary and that helps....glad you got over your block X

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    1. Oh, yes, writing in my journal is also a great way for me to work through the blocks. :)

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