Friday, 25 July 2008

Beating Writer's block - or giving youself time to think through ideas...

In his laid back, relaxed "Coffee with Allan Cockerill" blog, Allan is a mine of useful and interesting info and comment. I got so enthusiastic responding to his article Beating Writers Block And Mining Your Life For Writing Material that I have used it as the basis for my post today.

Do take the time to check out Allan's writing - he's a prolific contributor and social networker, and has recently taken to full time writing. It's ironic but often true that in devoting time to full time writing, the creative urge suddenly goes off for its holidays and leaves you at home sulking.

As a "full time writer" this subject is close to my heart, though for slightly different reasons; In publishing my own writing, I have become so busy working on the publishing side of the business, that I have no time for creative writing. I tried giving myself "writing days" in my diary, but I just over-rode them with other tasks. I tried to promise myself "art days" out in inspiring places, but they never happened either. So I gave up on trying to give myself "creative thinking time".

What I DID do though was to organise my working week so that I could have one day off in the working week to catch up on some of the many jobs that need doing around the house and garden, that leave me feeling pressured if they don't get done. if i feel pressyred, my brain feels clogged up, if I feel clogged up, I find it hard to focus...

So now, very prosaically, but very fruitfully, I now allow myself Fridays out of the office for chores, and have unexpectedly found time to think too, which is great because it's a day off that makes me more productive - that's cool.

Fridays (unless I have a bank holiday or other such holiday earlier in the week) are now for doing all the necessary household chores like grocery shopping, cleaning, washing etc. This frees up my weekend for more fun stuff, and it gives my poor brain time to cool off a bit and think through some ideas while being usefully busy elsewhere.

Staring at a blank page is the surest way to kill off any small spark of inspiration you may been teetering towards! Whereas doing mundane tasks that allow you to think are great for putting ideas together.

The other thing I've noticed about myself is that when I first started, my office was my refuge, my safe quiet place to write. Now, I feel much more free to be creative if I am elsewhere; even if I have to make rough notes or pics to copy up later. Pottering in the greenhouse or cleaning and polishing my little car are really useful for giving me time to plan out ideas. The physical work leaves my mind free to roam.

I now have two strong ideas for the next book, and now need to make the time to sketch out some of the ideas - that's a whole new blog post. I have to start now if I want to publish another title next year.

Writers all have their own particular tricks to free up their creativity. Obviously a writer working on a full novel has quite different time pressures and priorities than I do here running the sharp end of the business as well as producing the writing that gives the business its purpose. That's the irony really.

If I dont make time for myself to BE creative, the business has no new products, but if I'm working flat out on the business, it's hard to find time to be creative. So it's not a luxury for me to give myself creative thinking time, it's a necessity and good business sense. So if I finish my chores and take myself off to a comfy coffee shop with a big squashy sofa where I can sit making notes and sketches, I'm not just enjoying myself - I really am looking after my creativity and my business - honest!

More coffee?
See you next week :)


OMYWORD! said...

I know the pull between doing tasks and being creative. It's easy to schedule creative time, but way too easy, when the time comes along, to rationalize that other things, like balancing the check book, are more important, and so we blow off the creative time. I wonder what life would be like if we flipped it around so that we blow off balancing the checkbook and instead paint a few watercolors or write a poem. :-)

Helen McGlasson said...

Hey, maybe we should try it - i'm not being flippant here, though there is a danger that some may perceive me as being so.

WHAT IF we were to get the watercolours out and create something amazing.

WHAT IF we were then able to sell that painting for a tidy sum?

WHAT IF that led to commissions for further paintings?

WHAT IF we stunted our creativity by worrying over the paperwork, didn't produce any new work, and slowly ground to a halt?

As creative businesses, we risk our creativity by being in business!
Lovely to hear from you Lisa, realy appreciate you stopping by :)