How I Fought Writers’ Block Yesterday

1 Feb

I’m kind of between projects right now, so I’m working on a bunch of short stories.  Which is, I guess, a project in and of itself.  So, never mind.

Anyway, I started to find myself in this place where everything I wrote was Crap.  Seriously bad.  I hated it all.   I didn’t want to write because what was the point, really?

So here’s what I did.  

I opened up Write or Die, a fantastic application that nags you to keep typing.  (I have the desktop version, which is great when I need the internet turned off)

I decided i was going to write the biggest pile of crap I could.  Trite, stupid, lame, awful.  Just really go for the bottom of the barrel.  And I decided I’d throw it away as soon as I was done.

I hit the button that disabled the backspace key, set the timer to 30 minutes and clicked on “Write.”

I amused myself by parodying the kind of work I specifically didn’t want to do (it was about a Very Special Girl who was Chosen By The Fairies because she was so Very Special).  I made typos but couldn’t fix them, of course (leading to the fabulous sentence, “I watned toaask where we were gong, but it was goo winty to ask.”).

After a few minutes, stuff started to happen.  

First of all, the voice changed from this glurgy crap to something more sarcastic.  More like me.  

A plot started to develop.  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, since I hadn’t remotely thought it through, but there was something kind of fun there.  A bit of a proto-relationship emerged between the two characters.

Buddhism teaches that the way to deal with a problem is not resistance, but acceptance.  You sit with it, acknowledge it, and it loses its power over you.  

Just like when you use active listening to validate someone, the argument you’re having loses all its energy, by facing my fear of mediocrity, and embracing it, I took away its voice. And then I started to hear my muse.*

I’m not going to be submitting what I wrote yesterday to Apex anytime soon. 

But I didn’t throw it away, either.


*That link goes to a brilliant talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about creative genius.  Watch it.


Other posts of mine about writing:

Reading as a Writer: The Sarantine Mosaic

Teaching myself to write: outlines and storyboards


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