After last Friday’s post I spent two days obsessing about finding something to put up this week. Then on Sunday I found something and on Tuesday I realized the parts were right in front of me the whole time. I have to remind myself that writing this blog is a matter of faith. Not necessarily faith in god, though I highly recommend it, but faith in myself and in the process. If I do my part: think about it, do my research, endeavor to learn technique, learn style, learn vocabulary, learning in general; the words will come at the right place and time.
Helping the words to come can involve a number of things, learning to control my mind, learning to focus, controlling (or changing) my environment, sometimes prayer (hey if you believe in a god and want to write what he/she would have you to write then you might just want to have a conversation with god about it!).
As I write this, I am sitting in a local fast food joint. Kids are chattering, screaming and running around. Mothers and fathers are interacting with their kids. The radio is going. There are all the thumps, bumps, rattles, whistles and other noises of a busy place. I can feel the chill of the soda next to my arm and smell the food around me. Some people would ask how I can focus to write in such an environment. The truth is, sometimes this environment helps me to write. The stimulation and distractions act to cancel each other out, and drown out the noise in my head.
I’ve never been formally diagnosed as ADD and I don’t want to be because adding a label isn’t helpful. I don’t want medication and have learned to control things well enough to get life done. (If you feel meds or other therapies help you, then go for it; but, make an informed decision and learn for your self)
Some things, like editing, can go very well for me at my desk. For other things, like writing new text, one or two distractions are worse than ten because I get stuck focusing on the one or two and the ten drown each other out.
Those one or two distractions can easily include stuff from my own mind. Did I pay the power bill last week? Better check! Will we have enough money for my wife’s conference next month? Better check…but I don’t want to check that right now so I mess around with some other website instead. Hey remember that other project like this? The one you did eight years ago? That didn’t work so well, so why will it work this time? At the restaurant I can filter those better.
While we’re at it; two questions have never failed to come up in writing classes and talking with people about writing. First, where do you get ideas? Second, what do you do about writers block?
For getting ideas I have a two part answer. You already have part of the answer, the restaurant. Ideas come from things around you. If you are trying to invent a character, go to a place with a lot of people (or memories of people…). You don’t copy any one person, but I never fail to find something, an incident, an expression, a quirk, what ever… to start me down the road.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten is to ‘write my obsessions’. Short and sweet, write about the things you’re interested in, write about the things around you. Observe and learn and the ideas will come.
The second part of getting ideas is also how I deal with writer’s block. I’ve already advised you to put yourself in a physical and mental place that suits your writing needs. Now, prime the pump! Don’t think about writer’s block, don’t think about not having ideas. Write something, anything, any idea that will break you out of stuck and start the process.
I’ve found that once I start (and sometimes it’s a push) the words and ideas flow for themselves. They say that nothing succeeds like success. In our process nothing helps you start writing like writing. Don’t worry about it not being what you think you want to write, when it’s right you’ll get there.
If you’re working on a project you wont finish in one sitting, you can help yourself your self out by leaving a bit unsaid to start next time, a known next phase or subject, something you can lock onto and put yourself into the groove.
This is the way I get there… put things in your mind and environment that help to get there. Want to write fiction? Read fiction. Want to be a travel writer? Then travel.
Once you have put the environmental and source things in place, start doing.
If you tell yourself you can’t you can’t. If you tell yourself you can, you can. If you tell yourself you can, set things up and then put in the effort to do, you will be rewarded. Some will say “the world doesn’t work that way!” It might not, but the world is not the final decider. The universe (God, Heavenly Father, insert other appropriate term here) has other plans and veto powers, and really does reward your putting in effort.
Trust yourself and the process. Learn, think and grow; the words will come when you are ready.
I try not to be specific on what I’m going to cover next on my blogs. Things don’t always turn out the way I think they will. I do like myself and my audience to know that there is more to come. In this case I’ve got two more ideas and some proto-ideas that I found in the process of putting this post together and we’ll be seeing them soon.