“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
The seasons have changed and Spring is finally here. This year, she announced her arrival like a bouncer at a nightclub. Almost overnight, all signs of Winter – the troublemaker, in my opinion – were forcefully hauled out of our garden and replaced with new buds on the peach trees, fresh light green leaves in the shrubs and ducklings, signets, chicks and goslings at the local park. The air smells fresh and inviting.
Winter tried to make a comeback a few times in the last month, bullying the small, tender flower buds and stealing the sunshine, but Spring held her own and didn’t back down. The days are becoming increasingly long, warm and exciting.
It’s a pity that the new Spring energy that envelops me as I sit here writing, in the garden of course, doesn’t seem to have reached my inner garden of writing inspiration. When I sit down to write, I feel like Winter – creatively barren, and still in hibernation.
In order to nudge my creative spirit into Spring mode, I made a list of some of the tricks I’ve used in the past to get myself writing when my creative landscape felt a bit bleak and frozen.
Here they are:
Describe my outside environment.
Simply tell the page where you’re sitting. Inside, outside? What is the weather like? Who else is there? Do you notice anything in particular that you can write about – the sexy barristar, the blossoms on the tree, the dog outside the cafe or the noise of the traffic, the sound of the bird in the tree above your head? What else?
2. Describe my inner environment
Sometimes, I literally start with, “Today I feel (fill in the blank.)” And then I expand on that. I ask myself questions, and simply go where that particular road takes me while I write it all down.
3. A simple, specific writing prompt
My favourite one to use is, “Today I can write about (fill in the blank.)” I repeat this sentence at least 10 times, or until I know what to write about. And then I start by simply sketching in a few sentences to get myself going. Usually, by this time though, the writing is flowing easily once more.
4. Do other art
This is one of my favourite ways to wake up a sleepy inner writer. I step away from my laptop or my journal and I take out my watercolours instead. Or a selection of charcoals and graphite pencils with my sketchbook. Sometimes, I simply draw shapes and enjoy the sound and feel of the tool I’m using. No pressure to “come up with something.” This usually leads to words and ideas forming in my head – like jealous children they’ll come back clamouring for attention once they notice that I’m paying attention to another art form.
When my inner writer refuses to come out of hibernation, I like to read a book, preferably one on writing or creativity. Novels are far too relaxing and not always inspirational enough. When I’m reading a good novel, I don’t want to stop just to go do the work of writing. That’s like asking a child to stop playing to clean his room.
I do yoga, but writers in general are famous for their itchy feet, so if yoga doesn’t appeal to you, try walking, jogging, swimming, dancing or anything else that gets your blood pumping and your breath coming in shorter gasps. My belief is that creative energy gets stuck in our tissues, just like emotional energy does, and by moving our body for a good hour or so, we’re allowing the trapped creative energy to flow freely once more. Hopefully in the form of words on the page.
7. One sentence.
If all else fails, I convince myself that writing only one sentence for today is good enough. I know it isn’t, not really, unless that one sentence happens to be truly the only thing that I can put on paper. But it never is the last sentence. Once I write that first sentence, another one will follow. And then I have two. but there’s never just two either… You get the idea.
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