Tiramisu for writers
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert that roughly translates to ‘pick-me-up’ because it’s made of espresso among other perky ingredients. This post is not about tiramisu per se, but more about how to Pick-Yourself-Up as a writer when you are facing the blues, or the reds, or the wall, or a mental BLOCK. Try some or all of the below to get yourself feeling perky again about your pages.
Let me know which tactics work for you:
1. Audience of one: Stage your own reading – go stand in front of a mirror and read something you’ve written, try to deliver it as well as you can, imagine hearing applause, but also have a red pen handy because as you as you read your stuff aloud you’ll hear lines that need lightening or leavening or just deleting. So this exercise is both a booster and a way to hit your writing again because you’ll want to edit afterwards.
2. Get into your jammies: I find that when I go take off what I had on and put on my ‘writing pyjamas’ (Coco Chanelesque cream with black trim 100% silk pyjamas that I got for my 19th birthday) then I know I can’t run out of the house to do silly errands without quite some forward thinking. So put on an indoorsy-writerly-not-for-public-view outfit to write in, it’ll get you instantly in the mood.
3. Soup for the soul: If you are having a big mental block about what to write, go to the kitchen. I would suggest you make a cake or even tiramisu but the problem with that is you’re bound to be missing a few ingrediants (who has lady’s fingers in their pantry at all times?) which leads to cooking procrastination of having to go out and buy a few things, whereas, soup is something most of us can manage on zero notice. To make soup, throw a chopped onion, whatever vegetables you have, and a stock cube (go for the organic type to avoid MSG and other additives), brown in a little oil, add boiled water, add lentils or those cool soup mix of grains and barley etc, simmer for yonks and then blend it. The good thing about leaving the desk to make soup is that it takes your mind off your writing woes, plus you end up with dinner. If you find you don’t have any vegetables/dried lentils to turn into a soup, then maybe you have other issues going on bigger than just what to write.
4. Self-bolstering: Re-read anything you’ve written that has actually been published. This will trick your mind into thinking you can recreate literary gold again, which is more than half the battle to actually writing. Set a timer so you only indulge in this kind of reverie for 15 mins maximum, or else you risk just mucking around indefinitely by looking at stuff you’ve written that is not good and suddenly thinking you can make that gold… and you know what, you’re still not writing the main project you’re supposed to be writing…
5. External bolstering: Ring up a writer friend or anyone who likes reading your stuff and likes you and start with a casual, “So, I was thinking of burning/trashing my entire novel-in-progress…” and hopefully you’ll soon be hearing a pep talk, which makes most of us feel okay again. Warning – don’t do this one everyday or soon you’ll run out of fans and someone, one day, will call your bluff.
6. Scare tactics: Do your finances, that’ll make you itch to get the heck away from the Excel spreadsheet and back into the safe cosy world of Word documents where rows of figures don’t add up to big fat sub-zero figures and you are shocked that you spend so much on printer ink cartridges.
7. Talk to yourself corpse: Lie on the floor and, starting with your toes, work your way up your body scrunching up all your muscles and then relaxing each set in turn until you run out of body parts. Now, instead of falling asleep: think about what your story’s block is – is it your pathetic clinging to summary over active scene-painting, are you just not in love with your romantic hero, is your protagonist just sitting there like a lump, are you stuck on pages and pages of unadulterated bad writing? Whatever the issue/s is/are, tell yourself it’s okay that you’ve been writing like a hack and inhale/exhale 10x as loudly as you can and then roll off the floor (roll to one side then sit up in a ladylike fashion) and go straight to the bad bad part of your story and try to resurrect it.
8. The number 1 Fail Proof way to get you writing again and feel happy: Turn off the Internet at your computer, turn your phone to silent and start scribbling/typing, timing yourself to write for one hour. If at the end of one hour you don’t feel enthused to carry on, then you’ve probably spent too long surfing the Net and are too tired to write today. So try again tomorrow – whatever your time to write is, turn OFF the world and write for an hour. By the end of the hour you should be into it enough to continue. Be respectful enough of your time to write to keep it clean of distractions, remember, it doesn’t have to be genius but it does have to be out of your head and onto a page or screen….
Oops, Bunkeroo’s just pooed in her underpants during naptime… gotta go.