I had to laugh when I sat down to write this post about what writing struggles I have. After twenty minutes, one cup of hot chocolate sprinkled with a hefty dose of mini marshmallows, a piece of gum and about six trips pacing around the house, the post still looked like this:
Which is a great lead in to my biggest struggle: Writer's Block.
I've heard theories that Writer's Block doesn't exist. I'd like to meet the people who claim this. Maybe they have a stronger inspiration than mini marshmallows and caffeine. Maybe they have the jumbo marshmallows and a Red Bull.
I think Writer's Block exists. And if you need proof, stop by my house sometime. I'll let you watch me alternate between staring at a blank Word page, checking some of my favorite blogs and websites, and trying to decide what I'm going to make for dinner.
It usually starts like this: I have an AMAZING idea. One that will probably land me on the New York Bestseller's List. And these ideas usually hit either: a) when I'm going to sleep, b) when I'm in the shower, or, c) when I'm in the car.
Which means that I either: a) Try really hard to remember it in the morning, b) race through my shampooing, or, c) barely pay attention while I'm driving.
None of these are good plans of action, by the way. Skimping on shampoo is just gross and you should always be cautious and aware while driving.
So, I make it back to my computer as fast as I can and by the time I get there, I've got nothing. And what I do have sounds like the cheesiest idea I have ever come up with. And trust me, I've had my fair share of cheesy ideas.
There's been a bunch of writers way smarter and more successful than me who have listed methods upon methods of combating writer's block. "Always carry a notebook around with you" (I can see my driving getting even worse with this method). "Always carry a voice recorder with you" (Um. No. I don't even use a Bluetooth for my phone because it bugs me when people talk to themselves in Wal-Mart. I always think they are talking to me and that just gets awkward).
As Christa mentioned in her last post, if you want to write professionally, you don't get the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. There's always one more deadline, one more proposal to write, one more synopsis that needs to be finished.
When I'm dealing with writer's block, I try to at least write something. Whether it's a blog, a potential scene for a story, or a character synopsis, just getting past that initial I-can't-get-anything-written-today stage is extremely helpful. I've discovered that as soon as I realize that yes, I can write today, it's a lot easier to get the wheels rolling again.
If that doesn't work, then I resort to giving my brain a break. I move as far away from my computer as I can get and I either workout, read a book, play with my dog, find something to cook or clean. Sometimes, just the change in scenery can help! One time, I had an idea for an entire suspense novel just by reading the word "DELTA" on my bathroom sink stopper while I was scrubbing away at it.
Other things I have tried:
* Drinking Coffee. I once consumed a full 12 ounce pot while trying to get a story off the rocks.
* Taking a Walk. Fresh air will do you wonders. Mom was right all along. :)
* Baking Cookies. No commentary needed.
* Calling Someone I Know And Complaining. Thanks Mom and Nama for listening.
* Pilates Stretches. Nothing gets blood to the brain quite like the Downward Dog.
* Taking Pictures of Random Things. It eats up your computer's memory, but seems to jog mine.
And if everything I'm trying just completely and utterly fails, I do what one of my previous bosses taught me. After a ridiculously hard day at the office, she would get her coat, grab her briefcase, walk out the door and slam it behind her while yelling, "I QUIT!" And the next day, after that emotional release, she'd be back and raring to go.
Sometimes you're just going to have off days. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is walk away and try not to think about the story, article or blog anymore. Go read a book. Take a bubble bath. Listen to music. I've heard of one guy who could always inspire himself to write by listening to big, dramatic movie soundtracks.
How about you guys? What are things you struggle with when you are trying to write? And what are your remedies?