Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writerly Wednesday: When ripe fruit won't fall from the tree

I think it's ironic. Or maybe it's coincidence. (I always get those two confused.)
Someone can know a lot about a subject but still struggle a lot with it.

Take weight loss, for instance.

Personally, I'd never ask a person who was born to be skinny for advice on how to lose weight. I'd only get upset when they tell me to eat less and exercise more.

Obviously it's not that simple. There are hormones, stressors, genetics and sleep patterns that need to be taken into account.
If you want the skinny (pardon the pun) on weight loss, you need to talk to the people that know the struggle involved in dropping a few pounds.

It's in a similar vein that I'm offering this week's Writerly Wednesday advice.

I know a ton (again, pardon the pun) about writer's block because I struggle with it All.Of.The.Time.

The characters are there. The setting is there. The scene is ripe in my mind. But when I sit down at the computer the words jumble and jam before they make it to the screen.

What's a writer to do?

Force them? Nope. That only leads to frustration (which, incidentally, makes the weight loss struggle worse for me).

Give up? Nope. That would make me feel like the biggest loser. (Uh, wait a minute...)

Walk away from the computer and wait for inspiration to strike? Not exactly.
I definitely walk away from the computer, but then I go stalk my source of inspiration.

I return to the movie scene, the song, the place, the picture -- whatever it was -- that originally inspired me.

I allow myself several minutes to daydream with that source of inspiration.

After that, I return to the computer, take a deep breath and write whatever comes out.

I don't touch it. I don't edit as I go. And I don't worry about the rules.

I just write.

And if that doesn't work I take the dog for a walk. :-) At least then I'd be working on the weight-loss struggles, and it might jar loose a few of those words in the process.

What advice can you give about your writerly struggles?


Kat Heckenbach said...

Great philosophy, Kat. I agree. One of my mottoes is that I don't ask advice of people with less experience than me. I.e.--no parenting advice about my 10-yr-old from someone who only has a toddler :). And, you're right, a naturally thin person has no experience trying to lose weight.

Anyway, I actually do exactly the same things you do when I have writer's block. I read, or watch a movie, or do something that will get me in that "other world" state. Or, I walk the dog :).

Elana Johnson said...

Your puns are perfect! *grins*

For me, if there's something keeping me from simply sitting down to write, I know the story is not quite ready for me write. I need more time stewing. So I fold laundry or cook dinner or go for a walk.

I need to have some things in my head before I move on. Sometimes. Other times I don't, and things will come to me as I'm typing.

Bottom line: If I need some time away just to think, I take it. And I don't feel bad about it.

Crimey said...

I've had to learn this lesson the hard way. I struggle with writer's block all the time as well. And I've come to realize that I sometimes need time to ruminate over a scene or a chapter in my head more before putting finger to key.

Great post and I'm right there with you on the struggle to lose a few pounds (okay more than a few for me...)

KM Wilsher said...

Awesome. I push it so many time and end up with pages and pages of wasted time and junk I throw out.


Or I step away from the computer, angry and blocked and don't come back for days.

Thanks agian!

Lose weight fast said...

It’s that time of year again! We are well into Spring and Summer is almost upon us. Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books a Million are filled with hundreds of books and magazines claiming to have the information you need to be healthy and lose weight. While most of the advice is helpful, there really is no big secret as to how to peel off the pounds. As a matter of fact, some of my largest friends are the most educated in terms of food content, calories and nutrition. It basically boils down to one simple thing “Calories In – Calories Out” The calories you take in from food must be less than those you exert throughout the day.Yet, for many people, there is a disconnect between knowledge and lifestyle. They have trouble losing weight because their minds and bodies are detached. Food tastes good and brings instantaneous pleasure. Therefore, they are willing to give in to their bodily passions even though they know that the long term result is poor health, low energy and self esteem. The inability to control short term impulses thwarts their goal to be physically fit and live life to the fullest.I found myself in this discouraging situation post-pregnancy. My father-in-law, at 84 yrs. old, could not understand why I was offended by his comment “That’s ok, I like my women plump.“ His remark hurt my feelings, but I was definitely “chubby” ~ and couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to get back in shape.Prayer was an integral part of my recovery, and I highly recommend Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs to get out of a mental funk. “After years of failed diets, Chantel discovered the power of the “brain change“. She made five nonnegotiable decisions, developed a balanced plan for exercise and nutrition, and lost 200 pounds.”

Anonymous said...

Great point. I agree--there's no forcing the words out and there's no giving up. I like your idea of going back to the source, the original inspiration. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Write on. Yep, I write through the tough parts, knowing I'm probably gonna delete it later really frees me up to write badly. And believe it or not, I've been able to use some of those hideous words some times!

But then again, I am UNPUBLISHED.....


No, really. What works for one, might not work for another, but I just write through it.


I get out the old road bike and pound out a couple hours and think.

Thanks for this post. :-)

Lose weight quickly said...

My approach to this is much like my approach to food - tailor it to your liking if you want to make it a habit. No one is going to force themselves to eat food they don't like or do exercises they can't stand if they don't want to. There's a fallacy that one needs to spend a lot of money to eat healthy and to lose weight. This is untrue. There are plenty of ways to cut corners at the supermarket (fruits and veggies don't cost that much, it costs more to eat out than to eat in, and you can even buy a baked organic whole chicken for less than $10 and turn it into a 3-day meal! Be creative.) and you certainly don't need a gym membership to lose weight. You can go for walks around your neighborhood, up and down stairs, take a hiking trail, bicycle ride, join a sports team, etc. Develop a new skill, practice a hobby, or find other ways to entertain yourself. Even at the gym, you can watch TV, read books, listen to your iPod, etc. Even taking small opportunities to stretch out your legs is great, i.e. taking that distant parking lot space, walking a few blocks to run an errand, even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise a few days a week even for half an hour and you'll see a difference.

Wendy Sparrow said...

Usually when the words aren't coming it's because I've got someone else's voice in my head and not the voices that belong to me. I go back and work on a revision of one of my mss until the words start flowing again. I'm weird, though. I can't read other people's stuff while I'm on a WIP. Thank goodness I write fast.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Sometimes I find it hard to write when I can't truly visualize the scene in my head, in its rich detail. This many be a problem particular to historical writers, but I could imagine it also happening to anyone who had not actually lived in the setting of their novel, or who had not been there in some time.

When that happens, I have to go find things that stir my sensory imagination about that time and place.

prashant said...

I actually do exactly the same things you do when I have writer's block.
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