Periodically I find myself unable to weave together strings of sentences that are entertaining and coherent enough to be considered a blog post. I’m not going to use the words writer’s block because that might summon the spirits and jinx me for two eternities. It’s not really a block anyway. I can think of the words. I can sit down and write them, but like the Kardashians, I just can’t manage to like any of them once I see them.
During those times of strife I normally meander my way around the internet to find some words of inspiration, a way to knock some sense into the gray matter. Last night I did just that and came across a piece on how some of our greatest minds came up with their ideas. From dipping their toes in the commode to drinking enough coffee to kill a quadruped to bathing with disposed fruit, some of our greats had some oddly specific and unconventional ways of gittin’ ‘er done.
I’m a great. I don’t know if you knew, but I am. I’m great at growing rare tumors and making fun of them. I’m great at watching copious amounts of reality television, eating entire bags of snack foods for dinner, and wondering why I can’t lose weight. Some may say I’m even exceptional at those three. And I’m great at procrastinating simple tasks until they become gigantic headaches that are not easily fixed, especially when that simple task is writing a blog post.
And just like Steve Jobs and Agatha Christie and Salvador Dali, I have my ways. I have my modes and methods for stoking the creative fires. They might not bring me to the brink of death like Nakamatsu Yoshirō’s method of holding his breath until an idea strikes, but my ways often give me heartburn. Close enough. So, here are some of the ways I clear the cobwebs and get the motor running again.
– Take a hike –
Literally. Or go for a walk or a run or take a spin on your bike. Do yoga, pilates, jazzercise. Throw on an old episode of The Jack LaLanne Show. Move away from your computer, your notebook, your stone tablet and chisel. And move, somehow, somewhere, some way. Physical activity is an almost absolute for me being able to break the block. I’ve had some great ideas pop up during a bout of exercise. When you’re focused on nothing but sweating and heavy breathing the ideas get jostled loose from the chaos your brain is usually focused on like trying to remember your pin number and figuring out what you’re going to make for dinner.
-Write everything down –
The one problem I find in knocking those ideas loose when moving my behind is that I’m usually far away from my favorite method of jotting ideas down, the post-it note. I have them everywhere, upstairs and down. In the kitchen, in the bedroom. I’ve even found them in the bathroom. You never know when inspiration may strike and even though you think you’re going to remember that brilliant idea of yours, you’re not. Then, you’ll find yourself in the deep recesses of regret for not writing it down the minute it hit your skull, a dark chasm I am all too familiar with.
And it doesn’t have to be a post-it. Email it to yourself. Text yourself. Write it on your hand in eyeliner or scribble it on the back of an ATM receipt with one of those crayons they gave you with the kid’s menu when you went out to Applebee’s that one time. I have a running message thread with a writer friend of mine. I’ve been known to occasionally drop a link in there and tell my friend to ignore it now and remind me about it later. I’m charming like that.
– Get you some of them writer friends –
While we’re on the subject of annoying your friends with dropped links, another very important part of keeping the wheels greased is finding other people in the same boat as you. You need writer friends! Writing, especially blogging, can be a thankless task, often viewed as a futile effort of Sisyphean proportions. And no one’s going to get it like another writer, but more importantly no one’s going to support you, push you, and empathize with you like another writer. Attend a local class or find your folks in an online Blog Share group. Some of my favorite people are in Blogging & A Beverage and Pickled Blog Project. Check them out. Maybe you’ll find your favorite people too.
– Stick your nose in a book –
Step away from the keyboard and pick up a book. It doesn’t have to be one of Neil Gaiman’s books, but I would highly recommend them. Well, at least this one. It’s my first Neil Gaiman book and I fell in love with it after the first chapter. I’d been having trouble coming up with something, anything that interested me to write about. The well had run dry. I had no ideas nor the desire to find any. So, instead of forcing it, I walked away and read a book. I got lost in something beautiful and found a way to love words again. It gave me fantasy and whimsy and, most importantly, possibility. I read my words all the time. I know my rhythm, it becomes tediously predictable to me at times and stunts my growth. Eating from another writer’s trough helped me hit the reset button and got me going again. It also allowed me to add another favorite writer to my ever growing list.
– Carb load like your life depended on it –
Or really just eat lunch, or have a snack. Chug a tall glass of water. Hydrate those brain folds, baby. Feed yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to lift the fog by just eating something and giving myself a little energy. Sometimes it’s hard to know how desperately hangry you are until you throw your laptop on the floor in a fit of rage. Maybe you don’t have writer’s block. Maybe you just need a lollipop and an ice cold Tab.
– Do something mindless –
Final paragraphs are a special form of hell for me. I could sit and stare at that blinking cursor for eons and then send myself into a writer’s block shame spiral or I could go see what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter. Play a few games of Fill. Or, draw some mustaches on the models in Elle just to occupy the part of my brain that wants to give up because the words aren’t coming easily. I do that until the words finally do come. This isn’t the time to crack open a 2,000 word article on the origins of life, but if you want to see where Brangelina is in their child support case, now’s the time. Hint: they’re still fighting.
– Drink a cup o’ joe –
This is the half idea. Mostly because it’s so cliché, the whole writers and coffee thing. And also because I really wanted to use this pretty picture I took of my afternoon iced coffee. But seriously, a jolt of caffeine or sugar just might help untangle those proverbial knots in your noggin.
Look at that coffee. Damn that’s sexy. Like a work of art.
*Here’s a bonus half idea, but don’t tell anybody because then I’ll have to change the title. Great pictures are another source of inspiration for your writing. Taking some of your own, which I have for this post, or finding free ones you can use on sites like Pixabay, where I found my lovely featured image. A beautiful photograph can stir emotions, make you wonder, or jumpstart an idea in your head.
And now you’re set. You know how to find your way out of the abyss. So, go write something or read something. Jot an idea down. Eat some pasta. Have a chai. But whatever it is, whichever way you choose, do it and do it now.
Your words are waiting for you.