Saturday, November 22, 2008

Banishing Blog Block & Unleashing Creativity

When blog block hits, your creativity can feel dry and brittle. Procrastination and self doubt lead to inertia. (Of course, Blog Block is a whole different entity from TBTB--Too Busy To Blog.) But the result is the same--you aren't writing, and you may feel guilty, sad, or just plain stressed.

Blog Block usually strikes after a brief, intense honeymoon period--around 3 months. Then, either your life catches up or you run out of enthusiasm. The subconscious takes over and starts making excuses--and they're darn good ones, too.

You stare at the computer screen (or legal pad), and all you can think about is your laundry. Or Aunt Maggie's 76th birthday party. But you haven't blogged in a week. You love blogging, but nothing feels right, nothing feels blog worthy.

Or maybe you have ideas, but five minutes into a blog entry, you rip up the paper. The phone rings, and it's your _____( best friend, neighbor, telemarketer). When you return to your desk, that wonderful idea has weakened...and it may have even vanished.

I love to use radio waves as a metaphor for finding--and keeping ideas. You listen and listen, but the waves aren't right. All day and all night, ideas are being broadcast -- you have to keep searching until you find the right frequency. And when you find the one, you know it.

However, you must now protect this wave. Because you can lose it forever if you are interrupted one too many times, or if you pause the project and do something else. Maybe you don't have a choice. Still, when you go back to your "idea radio," there's a risk that the unique frequency will have vanished. You will find another. And it might be better. But it can also be worse.

While I don't know how to hold onto a frequency, I do have a method for Blog Block (and, to a lesser degree, even TBTB). First, you have to kick your inner critic to the curb (and really, this is the only sure-fire cure for any type of block).

As Bill Cosby once said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." It's never wise to pay attention to the inner critic.

Second, try writing prompts--like we tried the other day. Look at a photograph, listen to music, and give yourself at least five words--then start writing. Do not censor yourself. Do not edit or worry about spelling. The inner critic has left the building. It's just you and your idea. But still, you have to be patient. Yet quick. It's like chasing have to be fast or it will flit off.

Third, fall into the moment. Draw down the five senses. Enter the photograph and let your imagination run free. You may feel a little nervous. You may think, I can't do that!

Well, what if you don't write a vignette? What if you write a faux newspaper article? A fake tabloid article? Or you could write from the viewpoint of a literal fly on the wall (or a dog, butterfly, clock, etc).

The result will be the same--you will chip away at that block.

Writing prompts can loosen those writing muscles--regular exercise gets them toned and buff. I'll talk more about this later, but try to write in the same spot for a first draft--and your "Muse" will come to associate this place with writing. And it will be a lot easier.

If you've sent the Inner Critic packing, you might just find yourself writing like the wind. You'll feel energized and creative. This can spill over into all areas of your life. A trip to the grocery turns into a sensory extravaganza.
But you already know this. Because you wrote wonderful vignettes for the "Windmills" exercise...and the results were fresh and exciting and beautiful. Wow!
You guys are rocking and rolling--you need more than one here are a bunch:

Pick one picture, pick all of ''s your call...continue with other characters you've created, or invent new ones....There are no rules...your goal is to have fun and to take your creativity to a higher level each time.

And the song is: "She Moved Through the Fair"


pour (pouring/poured)

One thing about these exercises--you can do them today or next year--or never. There's no pressure, no deadline. Even if you aren't in a writerly mood, and you just think about the picture and the words--you are stimulating your Muse. And she will reward you ten-fold.

Don't forget your award!


  1. Hi Gollum, you make it sound so simple. My first was just as you describe. This time I don't know. Is it ok to continue our first story, or should we pick new pics each time with new stories? Deb

  2. I forgot to add a picture of a Scottish house. And I'm blaming it on Lipitor! LOL

    I'll go add it.

    There's only one rule: No rules.
    You can do the same characters or new ones. I can't wait to read this, Deb!!

  3. We need "Gollum presence and inspiration" in our lives. How awesome to have stumbled upon you at this time in my life - a chance encounter to be sure - through a decorating website to boot! It's just plain fun now to sit at my computer and let my mind run free (or amok as the case may be.) You, and the many others who post here, are my continuing education in the school of creative thinking. Thank you!

  4. Ok Gollum I didn't get to do the first one but I will do this one. It shall be my post for Mon. Thanks Kathy

  5. Gollum,
    I don't have a blog, but I'm thinking these "exercises" would be good for us non-bloggers too. I'm going to really try this out over the Thanksgiving break. I've often wondered if writing lifts some stresses/sadnesses you might be going through? Either way, thanks for the fun "homework assignment"...I'm going to look forward to it! :-)

  6. Funny how you said that blog block usually hits around the three month mark...Well that's where I am...the three month mark...and boy do I have block baaaad. I feel like I have nothing left to say of any value...and I feel stressed to come up with something worthy of my fabulous visitors...I so don't want to let them down. I never expected to have more than 2 or three there was no pressure no worry. Who knew it was going to turn into something so wonderful...but also come with a burden to preform. I can't imagine what you must go through trying to write a novel. YIKES the pressure must feel like the weight of the world!

  7. I think we may need to call in a psychiatrist to get rid of my "inner critic". I look at your beautiful pictures, and I think of a story. Then, my inner critic says, NO, YOU CAN'T DO THAT! See how loudly my inner critic speaks? I love reading everyone else's stories and I especially love reading about how a real writer overcomes writer's block. You are such an inspirtation. Maybe if I keep coming back to read your words, I'll overcome my inner critic without a psychiatrist. Sure would be a lot less expensive. Thanks Gollum. laurie

  8. I know what you mean, Gollum, because I get "comment" block. Seriously, I lurk without commenting because I want to keep abreast, but can't find the words or time to slow down enough to comment properly. Your blog has provided me high entertainment for months and at this exact moment I'm pausing to think. I can't even manage a suitable closing sentence! hehehe

  9. This is such a great idea and you have birthed a whole new group of budding writers!

    I'm up for the challenge, and part 2 of my story posts tomorrow morning!

    I have really enjoyed reading everyone's stories. It would be great to have a list of all those who participated so we can read them all!


  10. Gollum,
    I've been thinking about this since I saw your post last night and I decided to continue my story line. I'd like to take my character (I'll call her Liz) out of MY COMFORT ZONE, do things thru her, that I never did in life. Maybe be a little naughty.;) I've hated that I didn't take chances in my own life, I'd like to try it thru my character, Liz. As I mentioned to Isa, my group of friends called me LADY MARIAN, because they thought of me as being too 'straight laced, and some times that bothered me, made me think that they thought of me as being dull. :( So to get into my character, today when I went out shopping for new strings of Christmas lights, I stopped in another store and bought myself some sexy, red, lace underware.:) How's that for getting into character.:)
    Now don't any of you visualize me sitting at the computer typing in my undies, that won't happen. But if I get to some steamy parts and hit that brick wall, I'll be sure to put them on, under my clothes, and try to play the part and most of all TRY to forget that I'm already a grandmother. LOL,LOL

    This should be fun.;)

    PS...Blame Tootsie for the underware idea, that's where it came from. Read her last post.

  11. Twizzis stated it so well about us nonbloggers with "comment block". I give so much credit to all the bloggers out there coming up with something to write about.

  12. Wow these were great words to go by... I enjoyed reading your words of wisdom & the challenge. Can't wait to see what people do with it... Have a blessed Sunday...


  13. You are an inspiration even when you think you have blog block!! Love this post by the way!!

  14. Oh no another one?!?! EEKS! No, I'm kidding, I loved the last one so much I will give it another go! It was amazing to see how well some of the girls write!

    Buffie :)

  15. Wow, you are so good & you hit the nail on the head. I have major blog block & the inner critic has been very busy putting the kabosh on everything I've thought of. I have nothing to share, or at least that's what the snarky inner critic would like for me to believe. Hmmm, okay, I'll work on it somemore.

    Of course, reading your books have taken away time from blogging, so I'll to blame the desire to read & eat on that. Dang woman! You make food sound sooo good, that I want to eat whatever you're writing about, even if I'm stuffed! ☺ Diane

  16. "you have to be FAST or it will flit off", well that leaves ME out! I only have one speed and it is gearing......down. :)

    What fun it was to read over everyone's story. They all were fantastic!!! As I'm not a Blogger I cannot relate to how exasperating it must be at times to come up with new material. In my opinion those who do it deserve a 'badge of merit'.

    (BTW I gave your first exercise a try, but after reading everyone else's I realized, oh Lord did I miss the mark!! I managed to include all the 'buzz' words in the introductory chapter, but my story has more of a Stephen King spin to it which I titled 'Link'. (Well, so much for writing a Novel. Back to decorating I go, and on to my renos 'n upgrades.)

    With appreciation for all the enjoyment you give to others. Sincerely,

  17. I think this sounds easier than it is! lol thanks for the info

  18. Gollum ,I did the first one and will post the second one tomarrow. This is fun. Kathy

  19. Now you know with my husband being Scottish and so proud I couldn't possibly NOT do this one;) Have to give it some thought though I don't think I can add it to the other story~~maybe hmmm not sure~~~French;)
    PS I loved the second picture it looks much like my office!

  20. Good Evening Gollum,

    I think I will partake! I had tons of fun with the first game! Let me see what I can come up with.


  21. Hi Gollumj, I'm behinds I have only just completed windmills, but I got really excited when I saw all the Scottishness, esp Henry!
    I don't seem to get bloggers block I have so many ideas swimming around in this here head of mine, my problem is getting them to make sense on paper(blog). Thanks for the tips though, how lucky we are to get such insite and advice from an true expert, Kathy