he following is a commandment I often recommended for serious writers: Thou shalt set and maintain a schedule for daily composition—or other work related to the art and science of wordsmithing.
Unfortunately, regardless of whether you’re an amateur or professional, any author can face Writer’s Block. The term often conjures the image of a twentieth century writer of the great novel—rumpled, frazzled, and hazy from exhaustion abetted by alcohol or other drugs. Seldom do we picture an elegantly clad person poised before a blank computer screen in a well-appointed office.
Surprisingly, today’s writer is more often focused on commercial or academic composition than fiction. Stymied by the inability to produce the required verbiage, the valiant wordsmith in this scenario may continue to drill down in a repeating exercise of seeming activity…with the hope that it will produce a new dynamism. But an episode of slugging away at wordsmithing without inspiration often yields the same result: N o t h i n g o f V a l u e.
Is there an easy solution to the dilemma of low motivation and poor productivity? Sometimes the answer is no. At least for the time being, leaving the project alone may be the best answer. But what options are available as an alternative to abdicating your role as a writer and hitting your head with the hammer of guilt?
In the Southwestern desert, simply drinking water can restore one’s ability to concentrate, if not one’s creativity. Another option is exercise . Going for a run or walking in a garden will remove you from an atmosphere of defeat and inhaling fresh air re-oxygenates your bloodstream and enhances your brain function. Recent biochemical research has shown the benefit of eating brain-stimulating foods. But if preparing a meal of nut-encrusted fish with broccoli and tomatoes is not doable, you could consider taking a power nap, perhaps serenaded by Mozart or Vivaldi.
Beyond tangible physical benefits, these strategies provide Attention Distraction. Wait a moment, you say? Attention distraction is usually associated with magicians misdirecting audiences…or mystery writers dropping false leads into their text to confuse readers about the true direction of their plotline.
Regarding the quandary of writer’s block, consider that scientists exploring attentional focus and problem solving have discovered that too much mental focus can reduce one’s creativity, as well as the ability to solve problems. Therefore any strategy that redirects your energies is indeed useful for refreshing your body and your mind.
For me, the key to increasing my productivity is my frame of mind. For even if I’m poised to bring form to a fully visualized project, extraneous noise like ringing phones, talk or even music can stall my work. Sadly, I’ve found that food and water, or a change of scenery with heart stimulating activity, can only help to a limited degree.
Attentional distraction via the dovetailing of the creative and editorial processes I mentioned in my first blog is my best method for sidestepping writer’s block. If all else fails, cleaning house or playing a few games of solitaire allows me to return to productive writing for hours! All of the techniques I’ve mentioned in this blog helped me through the myriad phases of writing, working with my publisher, and promoting Prospect For Murder, the first book in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery series.
Remember, the Universe will provide the answer…when you’re ready to receive it!
Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant
Tips to enhancing your writing may be found in:
Empowering Your Words, February 2015
Creating Fictional Characters, March 2015
Sidestepping Writer’s Block, April 2015
Communicating with Every Sense, May 2015
Energizing Narrative Passages, September 2015
The Author Recycles, July 2017
Balancing Text & Space, February 2017
Book Series Adventures, April 2018
Drawing on Sense Memories, July 2018
For further tips on branding, please visit my marketing website
Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.
To learn more about the Natalie Seachrist Mysteries, including the new release, Murders of Conveyance, a few Island recipes and my other projects, please visit my author website at JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.