Since I have been back from my holiday I’ve found it increasingly difficult to write. Not only that, but I’ve noticed a distinct aversion to the task. If I have time when I think I should be writing I become lethargic, melancholy and somewhat sulky. I don’t want to do it. When I force myself into the chair I am dismissive of anything that materialises on the page. Not only is the writing flat and dull, but the focus of the piece is similarly mundane and dissatisfying. It does not inspire me or provide me with an ounce of confidence for when I might have to return to writing again. In short, it puts me off.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite like this before. The thought of writing at the moment fills my being with emotions akin to disgust: whatever words I may write, they are despicable and unworthy. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost the magic of writing – the freedom and joy that creating something from scratch can allow. For unknowable reasons, right now, I do not want to write.
Except, of course, that I do.
I’m a writer. It’s in my soul. I love finding stories in words, imagining characters and bringing them to life on the page, putting them in challenging situations and seeing what happens. The very idea that I am capable of doing this tugs on the corner of my lips and convinces me to smile. I adore storytelling. Yet, at the moment, the act of putting words on the page in any type of meaningful order seems to repel me.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve come off the heels of a novel that I’m comfortable with – having worked on it for three years already – and trying to recast my skills into the short form again. I’ve got a list of competition deadlines up on my calendar and with each passing day I feel my ability to submit to these waning and fading. I’m trying to force my mind into writing within certain themes – a task I used to find ridiculously easy – and it is resisting. Despite being receptive to my Writing Group activities, whereupon we’re given a ten minute exercise at which I can creatively excel, trying to recreate this freedom within the context of a competition topic is getting me nowhere.
So I need to find ways to enjoy writing again. I need to take the pressure off. I need to go back to basics and rediscover what it means to write for myself. This means competition deadlines will be put aside and their themes forgotten. Right now, I need the freedom to explore words in whatever form they come and not feel the need to shoehorn them into something they are not. To help me do this, I’ve decided on a few ‘easy’ exercises I hope will stimulate some creativity.
1. Go back to the expectation that I really only have to ‘write one sentence a day. Just one sentence a day. Everyday. How easy is that?’
2. Attempt an activity Rosie Garland reveals as one of her creative rituals:
“ I…write six images. What a snail looks like climbing up a leaf, what it felt like to stub your toe. I do it every morning without fail, if miss one I do a catch up session later.”
3. Remember that I write because I want to, not because I should.
4. Keep this in mind [Thanks again goes to Rosie for putting things into perspective. ;)]:
Hopefully, by next week I will be able to report that my fondness for writing has returned, or at least that my skills are developing once more and I will no longer be afraid of that blank page. It’s been such a long time since I faced the dreaded blinking cursor that I’d forgotten how intimidating it can be and how fear of having no ideas can often prevent us from developing any new ideas.
What do you do when you don’t feel like writing? “Feel the fear and do it anyway?” Or admit you might need more time and calmly wait it out?
Let me know in comments, or Tweet Me.