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Writer's Block's Kryptonite: Knowing Your Process


In a recent "Getting to Know Our Instructors" interview for WriterHouse, one of the questions was about writer's block, and if I had any strategies for overcoming it. Confession: I don't really get writer's block. Sometimes I don't make time for writing and other times I feel like I should be working on something (like my 3/4-completed novel draft) but get inspired to write something else.

In a recent conversation with my fiction workshop class, we talked about writing process. Knowing your writing process and ensuring conditions are optimal (or as close as you can get) can be the bane of writer's block's existance. For example, here is my writing process, which ensures maximum productivity and decreased suck-i-tude/distraction:

  1. Get beloved cat, Maisy, stoned on kitty-pot (a.k.a. catnip) and turn on her mechanized cat toys to beguile her in her stonedness, until/in case she doesn't collapse into a blissful slumber (pictured, right).

  2. Turn on wireless speaker and select tonally appropriate playlist for the project in progress.

  3. Ensure there is an appopriate amount of caffeinated beverages readily available and partake in some (usually Diet Coke for me, even though I know it's terrible for me and the Devil's zero-calorie beverage).

  4. Clear unnecessary and/or distracting items from my work area (unpaid bills, books I've been neglecting, etc.)

  5. Gather any items needed to inform the writing (extratextual resources like character life-timelines, visual influences, etc.)

  6. Open both the document I plan to work in and usually a blank file as well. Some projects also require a "Tids and Bits" file where darlings, orphans, and ideas of dubious merit reside.

  7. Write.

  8. Recaffeinate.

  9. Fiddle with music selection.

  10. Write.

  11. Read and scratch head.

  12. Write.

  13. Google research question.

  14. Write.

  15. Look up random factoid and/or movie triva via interwebs for brain-break.

  16. Stretch.

  17. Pet cat.

  18. Potty-break and refresh caffeinated beverage.

  19. Write.

  20. Check Facebook and Twitter. Share inane things that make me happy.

  21. Save (savings been going on all along, but I always save at the end of a writing bender, in mulitple locations because my backups have backups, 'cause I'm cray cray like that.)

  22. Rinse and repeat next time.

While this likely seems utterly ridiculous, sometimes the key to foiling writer's block's maniacal plans is to have things arranged so that both your creative juices will have the best chance of flowing and things that creep in to distract or discourage you are out of sight and mind. And then write. Write like the wind. Write even if it's not the thing you meant to write. And give yourself a pass if you feel like you're putting down crap, because a little fertilizer is always needed to help good things grow.

#writinglife #starvingwriter

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