Yesterday, in a fit of writer’s rebellion, I refused to write. Instead, I thought I’d peruse a foot-high pile of long neglected magazines. My intensely focused research and examination of stupidity hardly leaves me time for frolic and detour, but sometimes, it’s a must. I started by reading the cover headlines:
“99 Ways to Look Super,” “Be Prettier,” “Get Gorgeous,” (What makes them think I don’t already look pretty damn good?) “Lose Weight Without Dieting,” “A Food Lover’s Guide to Weight Loss,” “Sweat Free Ways to Lose Weight,” “How to Turn Him On,” “Sexy Sex,” “Sexy Exercise,” “Get Fit,” “Flat, Sexy, Tight,” “Get in a Better Mood,” “Get Happy,” “Get Ecstatic,” and “Diseases You’re Likely to Get.”
These came from the covers of four magazines geared toward women. Do you notice any patterns? That’s right. I need to subscribe to a wider variety of periodicals. And if I write an article about looking good, losing weight, better sex, altering attitudes, up and coming diseases, or any reasonable combination of the foregoing, it’ll likely get published.
Then I picked up a few magazines geared toward writers. The main topic of each was “Writer’s Block.”
WARNING: I am going to make a statement that may lead many of my dear readers to declare, “Just as I suspected. Keli is a stuper.” (Short, for a decidedly stupid person). If any of you suffer from a heart ailment, dizziness, back pain or believe you may be pregnant, please step away from your computer screen now or close your eyes and find the little X with your mouse. My statement:
I don’t believe in Writer’s Block.
I think it’s part of a vast conspiracy of published authors to keep novice or jittery writers from pursuing a literary career. Just before I graduated law school, I was told by one and all: “There are too many lawyers already.” “You’ll never get a job in the entertainment biz.” “You must work for a law firm first.” “Blah, blah, blah.” I refused to work for a law firm as I discovered in law school that I really didn’t care for lawyers or their firms. I was exceedingly fortunate. Thanks to an exceptional, saintly attorney (not an oxymoron in this case) who took me under her wing, I went straight to a studio job. Why am I telling you this? So that you don’t believe everything you hear or read; otherwise, you may find yourself becoming a stuper. Just because a magazine or other seemingly reliable source tells you that you may be unhappy, overweight or that something cannot be done, or may be done only in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily so.
Back to Writer’s Block. Does it exist? I think it occurs only because sometimes, we don’t feel like writing. After all, if we were motivated, we wouldn’t be blocked.
Each magazine provided the same basic formula for overcoming blockage:
- Use a journal to jot down ideas;
- Break down the task into tiny pieces;
- Try writing exercises;
- Set deadlines and keep them; or
- Start in the middle.
Perhaps these tips do help some writers get motivated, and if so, that’s simply grand. However, I’ve found the strategies listed below to be personally more useful. I’d like to humbly share my means of kick-starting my writing when I’m not in the mood:
- Take a shower (I believe I could write the Great American Novel if only I could do all of my dictation and writing from within my shower walls. This is a great source of mental stimulation.)
- Switch gears (Instead of trying to write, make friends with your vacuum by using it, do the dishes, exercise or work in the garden; sometimes these mindless tasks elicit a flurry of creativity.)
- Read (Someone else’s book or a magazine may generate a new idea. I wrote Stupidity Grows Obese after reading a chapter of The Scarlet Letter. Sounds improbable, but true.)
- Do something you’ve never done before. (I tried weed whacking my back field; I managed to eradicate all errant weeds in a square foot strip, ripping only one pant leg in the process and requiring just a few stitches above one knee, before becoming sufficiently motivated to return to my literary pursuits.)
- Keep the vision in your mind of how marvelous you’ll feel when it’s done.
- Go out among the masses (for heaven’s sake, if this doesn’t give you stuff to write about, nothing will).
Stupers are adept at focusing on what’s missing in their lives and on what can’t be done. Neither of which promotes motivation or inspiration. Be patient with yourself and realize everything starts with a little thought and desire, both of which are easily within our reach.
Don’t stop thinking!