The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.
Aha! That quote by Robert Frost lets me off the hook! It’s not my fault that I’m not writing — it’s my brain’s fault!
According to writing coach Roseanne Bane, we are not “being weak willed, thin skinned, oversensitive, under-disciplined or lazy” when we can’t seem to write. Instead, our brain is not functioning the way we need it to.
Rather than to get into the neurology of the brain, (check Roseanne’s new book, Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance), let’s focus on some practical ways to move ourselves into our writing.
- Don’t let it hamper you. As I have been known to say, I don’t believe in writer’s block. Never have, never will. To me it’s merely an excuse not to write. If you are feeling blocked, this is a perfect time for denial. Grab your favorite fast pen… and go!
- Be strong. Know that you can break through this. Grab a few words from one of your favorite poets and start there. Start with the words “here I am…” Start anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start.
- Keep going. This is the part about allowing yourself to write crap. Writing crap does not make you a bad writer. Every piece of writing is good because it brings you along to the next level. There is no wasted writing. At the very least, it gets you oiled up for the next amazing thing you will write.
- Be aware of the process. What are you doing? You are working on some cool writing. That is all. Forget about that deadline or that book you long for. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Just be there with this writing. Just be there with it now.
- Have some fun. This frees up your brain to be creative. Write something weird. Write something from a zany dream or cartoon. Strange is good. Who knows…. you might find a way to work your weirdness into a poem or story. Nobody can be odd like you can be odd. Enjoy it!
- Read and relax. If you want to write good poetry, read poets you love. If you want to write good fiction, read good fiction. It’s okay to get ideas from other people. There’s precious little that’s unique, you know.
- Give yourself the gift of time. I know, I know, there are always emails to answer and Facebook and Twitter and even the bathroom to clean. And when, may I ask, did any of these things get to be more important than the drive you have to write? Who is in charge of your priorities?
- And, remember, if you are very lucky, there will be a next time. Cherish the moment. Be kind to yourself but don’t let that stop you from doing your work. Don’t let go of that old fashioned work ethic.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. The buddy system is one idea. Make a pact with a writer friend. Keep a file of ways to help each other, such as a variety of writing prompts.
And so, my friends and colleagues, don’t let your brain get the best of you. You have some great writing ahead. Now get to work.