It happens sometimes. I simply cannot write. Try as I may to do so, nothing flows from my mind to the page. I do what all writers are supposed to do. I keep my rear end in the chair until I feel it turning into mush—and my brain with it. Finally, I give up. Negative thoughts run through my mind. Perhaps I’m not supposed to write. Maybe my muse has deserted me out of sheer frustration. Perhaps whatever I choose to write will mean nothing to anyone, and God knows it. The solution? I find other things to do :
- Clean. I rifle through my closets and cupboards and donate anything I can’t use to charity–or the round basket, file financial papers, shred outdated material, etc. When I get finished, at least I have accomplished something that encourages me and makes me feel like my day hasn’t been a complete waste of time.
- Cook. I love cooking and baking. I cut and keep interesting recipes that challenge my culinary skills. When the results of my efforts are served, I get lots of compliments from my family, which compensates for not being able to write a word and provides an outlet for my edible creative energy.
- Do routine things. Repetitive work releases the synapsis that allows me to “cook” my writing ideas while I’m working. This is totally subconscious and happens while washing dishes, picking up or doing laundry. I keep my hands busy and my mind free while hoping time spent with ordinary work will fill in the blanks.
- Journal. Isn’t that writing? Well, yes, kind of. But it’s not my customary writing project. Often, journaling clears my mind of the emotions and thoughts that may be lurking just below my gray matter’s surface and is beyond my awareness (especially negative thoughts about writing 😊). Carrying negative thought and emotions can block writing flow as effectively as the Hoover Dam blocks water flow.
- Exercise: I swim, walk or use my stationery bicycle—anything that gets my heart pumping much-needed oxygen to the brain. Sometimes, the writer’s sedentary life itself can muddle the thought processes and obscure the writing path.
- Garden. Okay, I kill more plants than I’d like to admit. However, the effort puts me on my knees, feels both fulfilling and humbling and reminds me of the One who is in charge of my life path—and my writing. There is something rejuvenating about the feel of soil through fingers and the smell of fresh-turned earth.
- Take a day trip. Getting out of the house and taking in a museum, movie or play is enough to elicit creative writing. The big challenge is to find something I want to do. I’m a bit picky—or so my husband says.
- Go to a writing workshop. Better for me to find one out of town in order to put distance between my office and me. A workshop not only helps to induce ideas and provide fellow writers to commiserate with, but the drive also provides stimulating views—as simple a group of cows and complex as different cloud formations.
If none of these ideas work, I return to my office and keep my seat in my chair until my muse releases me from mental jail. Happily, I often find that by redirecting my attention elsewhere my muse gets jealous and begins to speak. Let’s face it, I’m willing to try anything to get her attention.