Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take A Break

So you've set aside some time to write. Or in my case, it's 11:00 at night and the kids are finally settled and the house is quiet. Now it's time to write. You have everything you could possibly need. Laptop, quiet place, MP3 player and most important of all caffeine.

You are now ready to rack up a massive word count my friend.

Only...nothing happens. The cursor keeps on blinking as though tapping its proverbial foot impatiently. In any event you are blocked...your flow of ideas has been temporarily cut off.

So what now? Do you sit there gaping at the screen, pondering what deity in the universe is laughing heartily at your expense. Not quite. What you do is really quite simple.

Take a break. It's okay, trust me. Procrastination is one thing. It's a whole other post if you want to get down to it. But accepting the fact that you may need a break is something entirely different. There's no shame in admitting that your mind needs a rest. Is it hard? Absolutely.

The most difficult thing for me to do is entertain the notion that I need a break. But when I'm just sitting in front of the computer screen with nothing happening. Why waste my time? Instead I have a few other options that have proven effective when my brain gets all stubborn on me.

Take a walk- You'd be surprised how effective even a short walk can be. No I don't take them late at night, but I do like to walk right after work and I've found that the ideas tend to come more readily. I've even run straight into the house to jot some down.

Watch a little TV- TV always relaxes me and allows my mind to wander. Usually I keep my trusty little notepad with me and if ideas come, I can write them down during the commercials. An example of an awesome form of relaxation for me would be watching my Vampire Diaries which happily enough airs tonight. Gotta love Thursdays!

Read a good book- Reading a good book always gets me in the mood to write. I love getting inspired by the words of other writers, seeing what they have achieved. It also reminds me why I do what I do.

Shopping- Retail therapy is always a great motivator for me...oops, its research, that's the party line that I feed my husband. Research for current trends is my reasoning for spending hours at the mall. I know this sounds like a crazy way to get inspiration, but I never claimed that my methods made sense.

Starbucks- When all else fails make a Starbucks run. Or sit and stay a while. Something about sitting and working in those places gets the creativity going for me. Okay so we all knew I would throw in Starbucks. It's pretty much a given for me.

Bottom line...when your mind gets all tangled in the web of craziness that we as writers all like to weave, relieve a bit of the pressure by doing something for yourself to relax. The ideas will return.

Okay, now it's your turn. When your thoughts go by the wayside, how do you get them fired up and sparking again?


Christine Danek said...

So true. I had this revelation the other night. I had been pushing myself and nothing good was coming out of it. So I read, watched TV, even cleaned (gasp). It's amazing how a break can get the juices flowing.

Justine Dell said...

Oh, reading, totally. I'm not much of TV watcher, but I know when my brain needs a rest. The words stop. The editing stops. Everything stops. So I pick up good book and just chilax for a a few hours (or days). Then I'm recharged and ready to go!


Hannah Kincade said...

Omg! Samesies!! I come up with ideas in front of the tv too! Also journaling helps me. This is why I don't type my first drafts, that blinker is too intimidating. Even now when I stop typing I see it blink and I think I'm NOT WORTHY! Handwriting helps keep that feeling at bay.

clp3333 said...

For me I like to have a place at the bottom of each word document called the dumping ground, where I can write as crappily as I please and then paste it into the main document later if it is good or delete it is not. That or I write something else, because I tend to have more than one idea. If I can avoid wasting my allotted time I do, because I don't want to make a habit out of it.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I hate the blinking cursor but you're right, sometimes you just need a break. If I need a good break, I'll take the night off. If a little break is all that's needed, I find a hot bath does wonders (ideas are in water, I swear it!)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Great post! A change of scenery is always a good idea. Of course, myself, I can easily take a break while still being on the computer. I can get lost in Twitter and blogging..

Terry Stonecrop said...

When my mind is flooded with too many ideas, like you, I take a break.

Good advice. Reading works the best for me, because when I get into someone else's story, I forget about mine, completely, allowing my mind a rest. Then I go back fresh.

Elana Johnson said...

I fallback on twitter and facebook. Lame, I know. But unless I'm in a full-on writing break, I know I need to just force myself to do it. Sometimes twitter helps and sometimes I just go to bed with 0 words written.

Amparo Ortiz said...

Definitely reading a good book. Music usually gets me going, too. But a book will force me to use my imagination again, so I always sit down and grab one to get The Spark going.

Hope your word count inflates soon!!

DaniSue said...

Great post, I do this all.the.time. Reading -for sure the very next thing I do when I'm having trouble writing. Mostly though I just try to relax and not worry about it. Inspiration strikes at very random moments when you aren't looking for it.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm usually working on several projects at the same time so it's rare that I'm sitting, staring at the blinking cursor. I'll just work on story B or C. Right now, my biggest enemy is time. So I spend the day thinking about my stories constantly so that when I do have time to sit down and write, I am writing, not staring.

Ash Oldfield said...

I'm big on the reading a good book option. Something that has been helping me lately is doodling - drawing silly pictures. Some of my favourite characters come from sketches I have drawn during a brain-drain moment.

Kaylie said...

Sometimes spending time thinking about the book is just as important as writing it. I like to brainstorm in my notebook or take a shower to get ideas.