writer: stuck

so every now and then, this ‘silence’ engulfs me… by ‘silence’, i mean not being able to write… i toss and turn.. watch Two and a Half Men… toss and turn some more… hoping that the feeling will pass and it usually doesn’t…

so what does a writer do in moments like these?

let me go think about it for a little bit…

….to be continued

while you wait, have a read of a post i wrote a little while ago about this very same affliction

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scared of the notebook

notebookso a few years ago, i discovered that moments of inspiration can be fleeting. and that relying on memory to recollect them, is like trying to re-imagine dreams. impossible. at least with dreams, some come back to visit as deja-vu..

i decided to accept the fact that a notebook is a must. i can’t quite recall how many i have gone through. how many are filled with ideas. words. other people’s stuff. flyers, i pick up at events. at people’s offices. at interesting places. etc. etc. often, i make an appointment with myself. open a notebook, write that day’s date. try to write the things that are swirling in my head. a mix of words to be picked up later. a to-do list (almost always!).

what i have noticed lately is that, as per normal, i always have a notebook in my handbag. a great feat for me – i struggle with consistency. however, my biggest bug bear now, is that i am often scared to open my notebook and follow up on words i have written down, ideas that i have sketched roughly, instead it is bulging with bits of paper.

of course this has me wondering why… i can only guess that maybe, i am somehow afraid. afraid to bring most of these ideas to life. scared of the commitment they will require in order for them to come alive. scared of how much i have to give of me in order to give birth to them.

so what am i to do with this notebook? what will i become without it? doodles

just write, right?

often when i have to write something (often with a hectic deadline) and words will choose that just writeexact moment to escape me.. ideas dodge my shadow.. i enter a room, they exit.

i brood over it. ponder it. count the hours. work out my days around this deadline. this looming thing. i write and scratch it out immediately.

sometimes, i clean my bedroom. hoping to bump into something that pokes something that will hopefully turn into an idea. i waste a LOT of time on the internet, looking at stuff. my own stuff, other people’s stuff. and still, nothing on my page.

so, what is a person to do in such a state?

i usually go back to the notes or words i have been collecting about said piece… write them down in no particular order. read them from the beginning. let whatever thoughts come to me fill up the spaces between those words. then i go back to reading it all again. add some more. then read it from the beginning again. listening for a pattern. that one thing that should be the introduction. i play air puzzle with it in my head. sooner or later, it comes. the order. the clincher. and when i read it from the beginning again. it makes sense. the way it should have been right from the start. usually, this takes less than 2 hours… while i would have wasted days procrastinating… fearing the blank page (and that looming deadline)….

 

filling that blank page

filling in the blank page 2so then, what say you? some ideas on how to fill those blank pages… get out of that writer’s procastination (thank the good people at Psychology Today for that replacement term writer’s procrastination).. i like to think of writer’s block as a mythical concept created by people who like to put off filling pages with their brilliance… a convenient excuse, harsh but true. i know because i frequent that land of procrastination far too many times than i care to admit..

some clever people have put together some interesting lists on how to get over this terrible malaise:

Adam Singer has compiled quite an interesting list on how to overcome writer’s block

Psychology Today’s article on how to end writer’s procrastination

what helps me get over my procrastination? well, i have tried a whole poetry course with the talented Miss Toni Stuart… her writing techniques helped me generate quite a huge body of work… things like free writing, listening to music… admittedly, things you may know already but haven’t bothered to try because they are so simple… i have taken to carrying a note book wherever i go. whenever a phrase or moment of inspiration i jot it down… my phone is an indispensable tool too, when i can’t reach for my notebook, i jot it down in ‘notes’… i pay attention to my surroundings, people’s conversations (you can be surprised by how much crazy stuff people talk about), i pay attention to smells and the memories they evoke, i watch children play, i watch and watch…

however, reading – a LOT – has been my saviour in most cases. there is nothing more inspiring that reading other people’s brilliance. the sheer envy is enough to get me jotting down ideas. i have written many a pieces such as this one:

together again was a piece i read way back in 2009:

together again
here in this place,
of angled streets and northern light,
under this particular moon,
with all quiet and sleeping behind and around us;
of what may I speak but friendship,
and our human wish for love – not just for me
but for friends too,
and those who are not my friends;
so if you ask me, now, at this moment
what is my wish: it is for love all over,
like tears of rain – that is enough – Angus Lordie

this in turn got me inspired and immediately after i read this poem (still a work in progress), this is what was happening in my mind:

pause
while thoughts of days gone by linger
in my head, like the after taste of a favourite meal.
i let my mind take the wonder of it all.
pause
something catches my attention.
fleeting past the corner of my eye.
pause
flip back to thoughts of painful joy,
freedom has come at a price.
i had to let it go to get here.
pause
while thoughts of love, of longing
consume me and manifest into this.
this state of wondering.

reading is another refuge i turn to when that procrastination hit.

reading also means i get to know about randomly different things which must wake up different parts of the brain and through some chemical miracle, it all comes together when it is needed. kind of like what this interesting article suggests, the benefits of being an expert generalist(http://www.99u.com/articles/7269/Picasso-Kepler-and-the-Benefits-of-Being-an-Expert-Generalist). am not quite an expert yet, but i will be sure to chug towards that…