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 fireflies...you 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 photo...so here are a bunch:
Pick one picture, pick all of 'em...it'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"
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!