Trying To Wake Up The Writer

I used to be enthusiastic about my writing. The change came after I took time off from my creative endeavors. It’s no surprise: writing is like a faucet, you have to turn the tap on to get water to flow, and if the faucet hasn’t been used for a while you can expect a bit of rust before anything of value comes out. Everyone’s advice: You just have to let the words run until all the gunk is flushed out. So, I sat my butt in the chair and tried to flush out the words. I struggled to open that tap. Day after day. But writing had become painful.

My attempts weren’t just rusty, they were like sludge, clogging an already too narrow drain. The workings of my brain felt so congealed I would need Roto-Rooter to loosen the whole mess. But then I realized: I hadn’t lost my flow; I had lost my passion.

Stop whining! No more excuses! Win your passion back!

Feeling I needed to tighten up the writing belt, I gave myself strict orders to write immediately after waking; That just left me staring dolefully at the blank screen. Perhaps I needed coffee first. I tried setting up a schedule that accommodated coffee time. Then lunch time, and soon I figured I needed to write in the evenings with a glass of wine. Or three.

Turns out, I was paralyzed whether I had caffeine or alcohol, whether the sun was rising or setting. As the years passed, and I repeatedly returned to the story I had been trying to get out, I had developed an anxiety of writing.

So, here’s my new plan. Well, not MY plan, but commonly recommended suggestions which I have tweaked.

1) We are told that to start we must write whether it’s gibberish or not. Gibberish isn’t my problem, it’s the no words thing. None. I mean, I guess I could write ‘the’ five hundred times….. So what if the words were already there and all I had to do was pick them up and put them in order? Like, if I took an interesting human interest story and wrote it out as if it were fiction. An article that sounds juicy and where everyone’s account of the incident/accident is in the article. All I have to do is flesh it out, give it a little umph. That could be fun. Again, the story must already be there, my entire writing process will be more of a developmental editing that allows for any fun additions, only if they choose to freely enter my creative mind.

2) Holding yourself accountable is always recommended. But marking ‘write five hundred words on wednesday’ hasn’t worked for me. After staring at nothing for 15 minutes, my mind is worried about the condition of the houseplants and did I buy any bleach this week? I should just go check real quick….So I am having another writing friend write with me. I wanted to meet in a cafe so we could watch that each of us stayed in place doing our hour together, but covid. So we are watching each other through zoom. And although zoom doesn’t serve coffee, and I can’t hear her breathing in that fantastic way that reassures me without a doubt that I AM NOT alone, it makes sure I feel sufficiently silly if I am not moving my fingers over my keyboard while being watched. “The, the, the” here I come! Lol. Still, it would be a start.

3) My dear friend suggested I write in an interview style. He writes questions and I write the answers. This little bit about my trying to get back to my love of writing is a result of that. He asked five questions (1. What seems to distract you when you try to write? What kind of a feeling is it? 2. Does this happen every time you write or only at certain times and in certain situations/surroundings etc? 5. What are your ways to get around it and get back to focus on the writing?) I answered the ones (1,2,5) that I felt I could. But these questions could have been about what was happening in my character’s life, or what the myths of my world are. The important thing is that someone else asks the questions from their own curiosity and you answer them with your heart.

So there it is. I’m going to give this a try and hope I start to feel that ants-in-the-pants excitement when I wake up and remember that today is the day I get to find out what happens next in my story! Instead of this weighty dread of knowing that today is the day I need to figure out what happens next in my story. Completely different feeling. Completely different results. Wish me luck…or rather, my passion back!

Published by Annie Harmon

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