Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tips for overcoming writers' paralysis and cultivating enthusiasm for your writing

Long title is long!

I was at the gym yesterday and I was finishing up my stretches. After stretches, I do ab workout—situps, crunches, leg-lifts, or jackknifes, depending on the day. Yesterday was jackknifes. After that, weights, then a half-hour of cardio. And I was lying on my back, looking at the wasp nest in the highest tippy-top of the cathedral-vaulted ceiling and dreading every single step of it with my whole self.

I probably don’t need to tell you, but dread is one of those ingredients in a workout (or any other chore) that really dominates the flavor and ruins the dish.

So I thought to myself, “Self, stop it! Why do you dread this so hard? You know it exactly. You have done it so many times you could do it in your sleep. Dreading it only makes it take longer; and when that’s not true, it sure makes it seem to take longer!”

“But, Self,” I protested, “What should I do to dispel this awful funk? You make it sound easy. I assure you, it is not.”

“Fear not, Self,” I laughed, “There is a solution! Behold!” I flourished my cape. “When you started coming to the gym, you were infused with feelings of accomplishment, pride, and self-power. These feelings have waned as the gym routine has become mundane, but in truth, the fact that the gym routine has lasted long enough to become mundane is an indication of exactly how accomplished, proud, and powerful you should feel!

“In short, do not focus on the mundanity, the sloggishness. Focus on the things that made you start coming in the first place! The way it draws into focus the ways in which your body is succeeding at being strong, beautiful, bendy—what have you. After all, what are you anxious for? Have you elsewhere to be? I think not. Now is your time. Enjoy it.”

Well, it got me through the rest of the workout, and I realized that the same technique can be applied to most things we dread. Staring at the blank page, fingers poised over the keyboard, thinking, “I know I was gonna say something… what was it again?” we have started looking at our writing as an obligation, a chore. What if we spent a few minutes right before we start writing to remember exactly why we write? If we can recapture the feeling of the joy of creation, the freedom of crafting a world to our own specifications, the way it used to be an escape rather than a prison, then writing will be a breeze.

Yesterday, after my workout, I was victim to a sustained headache and stomach ache and did not return to the world of creation, but I’m going to try out this technique today and see if it works as well for writing as it did for finishing my gym routine. Happy writing, everyone!

Word count: 2,778 (૚)

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