Well, I guess I’ve always been a writer, but it didn’t occur to me that it would become the title on my business card for many years. That I’d be not just a writer but a Writer. Note the capital “W.”
Writing is one of those things you either love or hate. For me, writing has never felt like work, even when writing on challenging topics. I love words. I love the rhythmic, musical quality of a well-written sentence.
But even folks like me who enjoy flexing their writing muscles can find the blank page intimidating. When there’s a looming deadline and that flash of fear strikes the pit of my stomach, here are a few of the ways I cope.
- Distract yourself. I’m a big fan of the TV show 30 Rock. There’s a great episode where Jack Donaghy, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming, explains The Shower Principle. When he’s hitting a brick wall and is in need of inspiration, Jack takes a shower or sinks a few putts on a mini green to distract himself, allowing his brain to relax and ideas to pop into his head. The Shower Principle can apply to writing, too. Take a break. Watch a cute baby animal video. Distract yourself for a few minutes and see what kind of ideas shake themselves loose.
- Go into Zen mode. And by Zen mode, I mean do what you can to banish disruption and distraction. Yes, I realize this might seem to directly contradict point one above, but different types of challenges require different types of solutions. Sometimes I need distraction, but sometimes I need to zone out before I can recalibrate and get back into writing mode. For example, I don’t know that I could have survived my senior year of college without my Moby “Play” CD. It was the perfect mix of atmospheric, ambient music that helped me tune everything else out and concentrate on the task at hand. Moby, if you’re reading this: My parents and my professors thank you.
- Bribe yourself. Sometimes you just need some extra motivation to get going, whether it’s the promise of a gingerbread latte or sunny walk around the neighborhood. Set a goal – such as, “if I write two good paragraphs, I’ll treat myself to something nice.” Be kind to yourself.
- Rest on your laurels – for just a minute. When I’m grappling with a tough assignment and I’m feeling less than confident, sometimes I like to take a minute or two to go back and re-read something I thought was an impossible task at the outset. It’s a good reminder that yes, I can do this project, too, however daunting it might seem at the moment.
And if you still find that your wheels are spinning…
- Just dive in. Really. Sometimes the best way to end up with something you’re proud of is to just start writing and see where it takes you. Get some ideas onto the page and roll with it. Free form. You might be surprised where you end up.