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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 9/29/2008 12:40 PM PDT
I took a long train ride today, and I did a lot of thinking about writer's block. I have a new theory: Writer's block has a lot to do with how you spend your time when you're NOT writing or trying to write.
Let me explain.
I finished my grad school program 2-1/2 years ago, but didn't turn in my thesis. Immediately after classes ended, I took a job with my school's academic affairs department -- it was really easy, I walked to work, my boss was never there, and there was really one 1-2 hours of work to do a day, except for a few months in the summer. Most of my friends lived far away, and I was in a pretty spectacularly unsatisfying relationship. I had oodles and oodles of free time.
I got hardly any writing done, and missed two deadlines to turn in my thesis.
Then I got a job with the Center for Jazz Studies at the same university. The job was hard at first, but I was still walking to work, and no boss in the building, and after a few months I had the routine down so that I only had 1-4 hours of actual work to do every day. Most of my friends still lived far away, and I was still in a pretty spectacularly unsatisfying relationship. I had at least one oodle of free time.
I got hardly any writing done, and missed two more deadlines to turn in my thesis.
Then I started working for WEbook. The job is incredibly challenging and mostly fun. I work at home, so I don't have a boss looking over my shoulder, but I have a pretty reliable 8 hours of real work (not busy work) to do. When my workload lightens, it's a chance to take on fun extra projects, like 911 Writer's Block, or coming up with new features for the blog. I met a new man, got married, moved closer to where my friends live, and am expecting my first child. Hardly any of my time is "free," if by free you mean empty.
I turned in my thesis in August, and I'm on track to graduate in October. For practice, I write a first draft of one new short story every week. In addition to all the writing I do for my job, I write for at least 30 minutes a day (the best use of a lunch hour), and often quite a bit more.
What's the deal? I'm spending virtually all my time doing things that are meaningful and enjoyable to me. I'm in the habit of using every waking hour of my day well. This doesn't mean I'm working my fingers to the bone -- I still relax and watch Dexter at night, but I do it because I want to relax and watch Dexter, not because I can't think of anything better to do.
If you're suffering from a creative block, try looking at how you spend ALL your time. Are you engaged in activities that bring you pleasure, challenge, and stimulation? Do you have hobbies and interests and activities? Do you spend time with people whose company you genuinely enjoy on a regular basis? If not, try spending 20-30 minutes writing about the most fun, exciting, and/or meaningful things you can possibly imagine doing with your time. Then don't just "set aside" time to do some of these things every day -- dedicate yourself to doing as little as possible with your time that's NOT these things (while still paying the rent or whatever). These things don't have to be productive. If sitting on a rock wall watching squirrels makes you smile, do that every day.
Once you start setting up your day so that all your time is used well (and not in the Protestant work ethic sense), writing will be much less of a struggle.
There are some good books out there that might help -- try "Creating a Life Worth Living" by Carol Loyd.
If this answer is too far-reaching, and not immediately practical enough for you, just start by using one hour of every day really, really well. It doesn't have to be an hour spent writing, it just has to be something you really, really want to do. Make it a habit first -- and then add 30 minutes of writing to each day.
Posted: 9/29/2008 1:00 AM PDT
The only solution to not abeing able to write is to actually write! Write anything no matter if it's rubbish or the spelling/grammar are bad. It doesn't have to make sense as long as you are writing. The more you stress the worse the block will get. Actually there is another solution - go clean your house! Yes, really. Do something physical and you will find that when you are not actively thinking about writing the words will come.
If you were not blocked and able to write what would you write about?
Posted: 9/28/2008 9:57 PM PDT
i have really bad writers block HELP ME PLEASE