by Yvonne DiVita
The dreaded WRITER'S BLOCK!!! It can strike at any moment, any second, any day or week... even in the middle of a paragraph of fantastic writing!
You're sitting there at your desk, your fingers are sailing over the keyboard like water over a stone, smooth and flowing. You're in the zone.
The day has gone by without notice as you compose that amazing chapter of your book, that astounding blog post, that outstanding dedication, whatever. You don't notice the shadows coming through the blinds, trying to nudge your brain to take a break. It is late afternoon, after all. And you've been at it since 5 a.m.
You're intent. Focused. You know what you need to do. You have your schedule for the day and you're close to completing your top 3 tasks... all of which involve writing, writing, writing; or, shall we say, creating, creating, creating.
And then... suddenly, as a long shadow drops onto the computer monitor, almost with a snicker... you pause... You lick your lips. You sigh. You're in the middle of a sentence, by god! The middle of a @#$#%^ sentence! And you're stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. You back away from the computer, and even the wheels on your chair rebel... sticking to the floor or rug or whatever, as if to say, "You're not done. Get back in there. Write!"
"I can't. I can't. I'm... lost!" you exclaim, throwing your hands up, pulling your hair out, biting your lip.
It doesn't have to be that way. Writer's block is a normal part of the writing process. Even when it happens as described here, in the middle of a project, as opposed to the beginning of one (and the beginning can be scary, I know, with lots of worries and expectations and... the belief that you bit off more than you can chew... that you'll never finish, or if you do, it will be *crap*!), you can deal with it professionally. As a writer.
1. Walk away for a bit. Stop thinking about the task. Have a cup of tea. Pet the cat. Look out the window and appreciate your backyard. Just take your mind off of it - for a half hour or a whole day. Whatever is needed. De-stress and get back in the zone.
2. Call a friend. See how she's doing. Ask her if she needs to talk. Share insights with her. Focus on her needs. Give her your time, openly and willingly.
3. Go back to the beginning and read the first chapter, paragraph, or introduction of your work. Refresh by reminding yourself what the project is for. It should be for the reader, not for you.
4. Ask a few select members of the readership's audience questions about the topic. Make them questions about your block (not that you are blocked, but about the topic... to help you refocus). They must be people you trust and they must be willing to be honest. No Moms or other relatives.
5. Read a newspaper. Read a book. Read a comic book. Just read. Read for enjoyment. Take your mind to a place of peace.
6. Take a shower. I have it on good authority that we get our best insights and ideas, in the shower. Not me. I sing country western songs in the shower, but, lots of other people purport to solve all the world's crises in the shower.
7. Cook. Make lunch or dinner or that mouth watering dessert you saw on Pinterest, six days ago when you were taking time to relax.
8. Read blogs. Find your favorites, perhaps on the topic you're struggling with, and read. Comment. Engage.
9. Go to the library. That's right. It's a building full of books. You can even take a few home, if you have a library card. I used to read 6-7 books a week, as a kid. I went to the library (walked there, uphill both ways), on my own, browsed the latest novels, and trudged home with all 7 in my arms. The sustained me through a troubled youth. If your town no longer has a library, more's the pity. You'll have to trek downtown, I guess. Most cities still have them, I think. I hope. I really hope most cities still have them.
10. Rearrange a room in your house. Yes, this is MY favorite activity. I used to do it when the children were at school, just to see the confusion on their faces when they arrived home late in the afternoon, unsure of what was 'different'. Of course, I also denied rearranging the furniture or the kitchen cupboards. What fun is it if you don't introduce a sliver of mystery in their little heads?
Writer's block plagues us all at one point, or another. None are safe from it. Treat it as you would any distraction - as a problem that has a beginning and an end. A problem you control. A problem that can, and should, further inspire you to greatness.
If all else fails, eat chocolate. Or popcorn. Comfort food will help you calm your fears, which likely led to the writer's block in the first place.