Bypassing Writer’s Block

FullSizeRender-2I got it bad. And I’m not talking about that Usher song from 2001 (hello yes old). I’m talking about the dreaded writer’s block.

Every writer I’ve ever known has a different take on writer’s block. It’s actually something we Scribes have discussed a number of times on this very blog. Some suffer from it it; others don’t. Some claim it doesn’t even exist. (I claim they’re lying). Some say the only way to get over it is to work through it, which is pretty solid advice. Others recommend refilling the well by revisiting beloved books and movies. Some say you should give in to your instincts and just lie in front of the TV watching bad Christmas movies and crying into your wine until the literary gods finally take pity on you and send you a decent sentence or two. (What’s that you say? Oh, that’s just me?)

Honestly though, it sucks to feel like your “muse,” or whatever you want to call it, has deserted you. For better or for worse, it’s easy as a writer to let your sense of self-worth get all tangled up in your creativity, your productivity, and the pace at which you create art. And that’s kind of where I’m at. This fall has been tough for me. Between ongoing edits of my forthcoming novel, a big move accompanied by a lifestyle shift, and a death in the family, I haven’t had much time for new projects, and even when I have tried for new words, I’ve been deeply disappointed in the results. Which makes me even more anxious about writing, or not writing, aaaaand the cycle continues.

IMG_1969And then I picked up a book on a whim at my local indie. Riding on the recent trend of hygge–a Scandinavian-inspired cozy lifestyle–the book includes a number of fairly accessible craft ideas. Now, my adventures into crafting have historically followed this pattern: 1) I get really freaking excited about a craft, 2) I impulse-buy all the supplies for said craft, 3) I spend like one hour actually making the craft, 4) I realize that crafting is hard, and 5) I never touch said craft ever again. But this particular book included some information that I hadn’t realized before.

Apparently, scientific research is beginning to find that creative activities can lead to relaxation or a meditation-like response similar to that induced by yoga, while also raising neurotransmitters associated with elevated mood. This news wasn’t so surprising once I thought about it–my own anecdotal experiences with past art projects backed this up. So I bought a decent amount of supplies, figuring that if I wasn’t writing I would at least be creating pretty things to hang around the house during the holidays.

IMG_1970I’ll skip right to the end here, folks. This experiment has been a resounding success. I mean, I’m laughably bad at crocheting, I have paper-cuts from Danish origami, and my wreaths look like they were made by children, but I have ideas again. Something about having my hands and front-brain occupied seems to leave my creative brain free to float wherever it pleases. It does, in fact, feel very zen to just zone out and let my hands work until bam! An idea strikes and I’m running for the closest pen and paper.

That’s all I’ve got so far–scribbled notes and half-finished crafts. But even if that’s all this experiment nets me, it’s worth it just to have something new in the arsenal to banish that dreaded writer’s block.

When the Going Gets Tough, Call the Winchesters

Having entered into a new stage of writerdom this year (having an agent and going on submission to editors), there is a whole new level of stakes that have appeared above my head. Figuring out what to write next has felt like choosing a major — for which I’m meant to spend months of time instead of scores of thousands of dollars.

It’s never easy, but folks, sometimes writing is just plain hard.

Supernatural, prophet, Chuck
Even Prophet Chuck gets it. And he’s got someone telling him what to say.

Yep. It’s tough. So I’ma lighten up your heavy load with some Supernatural GIFs today.

This month, it’s gotten to the point where if I so much as name a character, I feel like I deserve a parade.

Crowley, cookie, Supernatural

This way doesn’t get so much done.

We’ve all been through the parts of life that seem to just go smoothly. Work ticks along and pays you accordingly, friends smile and buy you beers, ideas go from swirly glitter to execution without trouble. And around every corner, you get to see this:

Dean Winchester, Supernatural, smile

That’s so much better than the days where nothing seems to work out. Twitter becomes as attractive as peanut butter to a hungry dog, and you spend hours trying to get it off the roof of your mouth so you can work but by that point you don’t even care anymore because you can write tomorrow.

There are days when life morphs into Cthulu and comes at you so hard that you can do nothing. NOTHING.

Ghost Facers, Supernatural

There are days where your packages don’t arrive and you step in dog poop on the way to work and sit on gum at the bus stop (and the bus doesn’t even arrive).

Dean Winchester, Must be Thursday, GIF, Supernatural

And then there are days when things seem okay, but inside, your heart sounds like the frontman of Meshuggah.

DeanScreamInternally

Those are usually the days that you see pie and this happens:

PieCloseUp

Wait, that’s every day.

When things get to that point, sometimes it can make you wonder why you wanted to be a writer at all. We pretty much sign ourselves up for a lifetime of self-flagellation. Why else would anyone ever submit their writing anywhere if every email notification makes you shriek and panic?

DeanSamScurred

Then someone asks us what our book’s about or invites us to a writing sprint, and we go all FBI-Cas…

CasFBI

Our inner monologues turn into the way Dean imagines Sam.

SamWhatAreYouDoing

And you pretend not to get it.

CasIDontUnderstand

 

Your inner monologue doesn’t take it well.

SamUnamoosed

But then something awesome happens. Your characters start blabbing in your head faster than you can write them down. You get an email that’s NOT a rejection. You painstakingly rat-a-tat-tat that last word of a novel.

SPNCastRegretNothing

For a moment, your brain gives you a hearty slap on the back.

DeanYoureAwesome

And you look at your accomplishments and think…

CasMeGustaAnd you realize for the 150 blobbityjillionth time that this is what you want to do. All the self-flagellating and stepped-in dog poop and life getting in the way and feeling like you’re bleeding on the keyboard — it all becomes worth it.

And that? It’s kind of like a parade in itself.

CasParade