Now, I am not talking about procrastination although it might sound like it. After all, at first glance it does seem that I am putting off my writing. But, the need to light a fire under my writing goes a little deeper than just telling myself, "Mañana." Instead, it's a feeling of numbness that settles in like a dark cloud just before a storm. It's the day, or days, that I find I am unable to empathize with my character, my plot, or even my story. I just can't connect. When that happens a whole realm of self-doubt sets in, and I tell myself, "No one is going to want to read this story anyway, so why write." I know, I know. This sounds like depression--and it might just be some form of depression at that. However, as a writer, I needed to find a way to blow that numbness cloud out of my head and light a fire to my writing. So, I began looking for ways to regain the burning desire to write that has been smoldering inside me for decades. Here are three things that worked for me.
- Make writing friends. Writers understand the anxieties and frustrations that come with the solitude of a writer. Reaching out to each other ends that solitude and opens the door to encouragement. I joined a group last fall. We each set mini-goals that we agree to accomplish each day. Mine is just to write a minimum of three sentences each day--and believe me there are days that I barely made this goal before midnight. But it's not just checking in with my completed goal every day that has been the biggest reward. Instead, it's the sharing of our lives as we try to work on our writing passion. I've learned that I am not alone when that numbness cloud engulfs me. Other writers battle it as well. We share ideas on how to chase it away, and we share in each other's success and are ready with the virtual chocolate when success is one step forward and three steps backward.
- Change direction. Instead of facing that screaming computer or even the blank sheet of paper, pick up your camera and make it a photo day, or a walk in the park day, or a volunteer day. Changing direction helps clear your mind. It removes the roadblock that keeps you from writing, and gives you a fresh perspective. I've found that looking through the lens of a camera is exciting. This is especially true when I'm trying to capture that little brown squirrel who keeps eating our dog's food. It's become quite the scavenger hunt--literally.
- Read a book or watch a movie. Nothing seems to blow my emotional numbness out of my head like a good book or an emotionally packed movie. Two weeks ago, I spent three days in that numb cloud. I ignored my computer's constant screaming. I ignored an approaching deadline for a non-fiction article I agreed to write. I ignored my email, my Twitter, and even my Facebook page--OH MY! Then I picked up a book written by a friend--Into the Fire, by Kelly Hashway. I'd read it before, but she revamped it. I had the whole trilogy sitting on my bookshelf, but was so busy I had forgotten about it. My goal was just to read the first chapter to see if anything had really changed since the rewrite. Four hours later, I was starting on book two. By the end of day three, I'd finished the trilogy totally in love with the main character, Cara, and anxious to write a new scene for the novel I am working on. My writing fire was ignited!
These are simple ideas, and they might not light everyone's writing fire, but they work for me. If you have other ways to beat those emotionally numb days when writing is the last thing on your mind, please feel free to share them. After all, there are thousands of stories that are waiting to be told, so light that writing fire. I want to read them.