Filed Under: writing
Published On: February 4, 2009
At some point in every writer’s career, things get real. It doesn’t matter what the medium – be it copy or fiction – there comes a time where, as a writer, you’ll be sitting at your desk doing everything in your power to avoid writing about something. Call it a block, call it lack of motivation, call it a creative malaise, but for some strange reason some current assignment is a painful experience.
The tragedy is that finishing a piece, especially a creatively strenuous one, is a euphoric moment. It’s a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond mere relief and can often mirror illicit drugs. The level of such a high is often tied to the output required of you, the creator.
There are myriad suggestions for overcoming such blocks. Exercise to clear your mind and pump up your endorphins. Pre-writing to better formulate your ideas. Drinking to get rid of your pesky inhibitions. All of these tactics are easily boiled down to the same general theory – look away from the problem to overcome it.
I’ve had measures of success with each of these.
I am a huge proponent of the outline and mind map. However, I use these to deal not with block, but with sorting out more complex issues. For me, a block isn’t typically a lack of inspiration, but rather a matter of rhythm. I need that rhythm to write. The harder, more complicated the assignment, the harder it is to find the right rhythm for the task.
My method is to trick myself.
That is, I cheat. When forced with writing something I don’t want to write, I often resort to writing that which I do. I pick a sure-fire, guaranteed home run from my list of assignments and swing for the fences. I blast through as quickly as possible, from front to back. And as I tack the final thought onto the work, dismissing any edits or sense of word count, that’s when I make the switch.
As quickly as possible, I throw open a new document on the word processor and dive head long into the tough assignment. The euphoria from that easy home run acts as the primer for the rhythm of that which I’d been avoiding. Everything after that is the perpetual motion of writing.