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Mental Breaks and The Creative Well

Although I gobble up posts about how to write 10,000 words per day, in practice, I find that I'm just not capable of writing that much. Maybe that sentence needs a yet. Or maybe I'll never be able to do it. What I know now is that my brain is only capable or writing so much in one day and then it just does not want to compose any more. Very. Tired. Thoughts.

Right now, for me, that's typically between 800 and 2000 words per day, and I'm not going to push myself to write more. Some times when I push myself, I burn out and then wind up taking a writing break, even if I didn't mean to.

At my critique group holiday dinner grab bag this year, I received a lovely present that will be a great reminder to me of this. It's a meditation box, filled with all kinds of lovely inspiring and soothing items. I've placed them all over my office and used the finger labyrinth several times while thinking yesterday.

I don't know if it will help my productivity but it is a great reminder to take those mental breaks, which ultimately make my writing better, I think. Plus, it inspired me to have fun with photography. And I believe engaging in other forms of creativity is always replenishing for the creative well. And fun, too.


how to love writing

It's been over a year since the last time I posted. To that I can only say...hahahahahaha. If you had asked me yesterday, I'm sure I would have told you that my last post was about four months ago. And I think I've written something like that on my blog before so not only do I post infrequently, I also repeat myself. Ah, well.

During the past year, I went through a period of what you might call writer's block. Although, when I think about writer's block, I think of not being able to think of anything to write. And this was not, precisely, what was going on with me. It was more that I couldn't get myself to sit down and write at all, so who knows if I would have had anything to say. I had writer's resistance.

But for the past four plus months, I've made great strides in overcoming my resistance, writing nearly every monday-friday consistently (though for varying amounts of time.) The thing that really made the difference was creating a ritual.

First, I have a consistent place in which to write. Some people may argue you should train yourself to write anywhere, and that may be true, but day in day out, I like going to the same place. It's a place where I don't do much else but write, so my whole being associates being there with writing. This can be as simple as the head of your dining room table or in a cozy chair with a lap desk you only use for writing.

Second,  I do a series of actions that I only do before I write. If this seems new-agey, or hokey, or woo woo to you then don't do it. Or find actions that feel natural. It's not the specific actions that help, in my opinion. It's the fact of having them at all.
1. I open my word document or notebook.
2. I rub a scented oil on my hands and enjoy the aroma.
3. I meditate for five minutes, often using a mantra like I write with joy, or I accept whatever words come today.
4. I set a timer for however long I have to write that day.
5. I put on my wrist supports and I write until my timer dings.

I don't know why this helps. I do know that even if I can only set the timer for ten minutes, I still feel great and happy about my writing that day. Which brings me back to the title of this post. How to love writing. For me, the thing that kills the love of writing is the endless struggle with resistance. Once I'm in the midst of it, it's always pretty fun. But it's so hard to get in the midst sometimes.

The trick of the ritual is that, the early tasks are so easy, so unlikely to be met with resistance, that I'm happy to start them. But because they are all linked, by the time I get to step five, I've already bypassed the place where my resistance usually sets in.

If this resonates with you at all, then I recommend you check out The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp.