We writers almost never want to think about… those times we can’t write. As far as I know, there is really only one real cure for Writer’s Block. Writing…
Yes, it’s good to have a fertile list of inspirations to draw from; reading is an excellent source of ideas (as well as a great way to learn how other people have put these elusive things we call words into forms and patterns that create pictures in our mind’s eyes). May writers swear by brainstorming; it’s great to get involved in writing challenges and try prompts that other people have tried and found helpful. Pictures and movies, hanging out with friends… all of these help build a fertile mental soil for the growth of stories.
There’s one more thing, and this is vital.
Any farmer or gardener can tell you… It’s all well and good to have excellent fertilizers. And if you plant the right seeds there’s always going to be a harvest of some kind. But you need to maintain that soil: You need to water it; you need to plow it, hoe out weeds, and be able to gather in that raw produce to share at the market. This takes effort. This takes work, and you need to be fit to do it.
You need to hone your Writer’s Body.
You need to get away from the keyboard and the pens and the books. You need to give those young seedlings of ideas some oxygen and some refreshing showers…
Yeah, I’m talking about exercise.
You see, you as the Writer are the most important part of your writing career. YOU. You need to take care of yourself; you need to exercise and eat healthy food, not just food for the brain and soul, but food for the machine that holds the pen, the great device that pushes those buttons for you and dictates into the the microphone.
This is my second run as a sponsor for the ROW80, but even when I wasn’t sponsoring, I visited other ROWers. One thing I saw far too often are posts by people who are blocked and tired or worn out (and thus doubting themselves). I’ve made more than my fair share of these posts. It’s disheartening. But I think I’ve found the answer… It’s getting away from writing. Just a bit, just a few minutes.
Taking a break and standing up or stretching gets things circulating again. There’s something that happens in our bodies when we sit for more than 20 minutes. Triglycerides build up, our oxygen demands go down… we lower our metabolism; we start conserving instead of expending. (Read that part about how we get sleepy? Being sleepy is no way to work well. So stand up and grab yourself a cuppa–water will work as well as coffee; it’s the standing that matters.)
Considering that writing is an active act, an act of giving our thoughts and words to the world, <emwhy are we doing it in a state of conserving resources? Get up, stand at your desk for a few minutes, do a few toe touches, a stretch or two… renew the blood flow; start breathing deeply again.
And then write. You’ll be glad you did.
(For those ROWers on Facebook, you might want to join in our ROW80 Fitness group where we inspire each other in maintaining our Writer’s Bodies. Or if you’d rather avoid Facebook–not necessarily a bad idea given how fast time seems to fly there–maybe you could add a fitness goal to your ROW80 goals. Make that boy work for you. Believe it or not, it will give you more writing time, not less.)