14 July 2014

Vanquished writer's block & a ROW80 update

On Saturday morning I woke up and spent the next hour+ writing down all the dreams I remembered from that night's sleep. It was as if, after a long dry spell, all the dreams came flooding in at once and clamored to be remembered.

But it wasn't until I wrote this post yesterday that it hit me: I finally have some mental space again. Space to imagine, to dream, to create.

For the past 3+ weeks, it's felt like my creative brain has been frozen in a block of carbonite. I'd sit down to write a blog post about what I was experiencing, trying to use my current struggle as inspiration, as I have in the past, but I couldn't get beyond the words "There's too much in my head."

But suddenly the carbonite is gone; my creative brain can move once again, and although it certainly isn't done thawing out, it's so good to know it's still there and functional.

Which begs the question: What changed? How did I unfreeze it? What have I been doing differently that helped me get my creativity back? The truth is that I'm not sure. It could be a number of things, but here are a few ideas: 
  • I spent a lot of time last week either sleeping or staring off into the void.
  • I spent a lot of time alone. It helps that I know only a couple people here in Paris and I'm going to be here for a month, so I don't feel obligated to run around trying to see people, which is in stark contrast to my time in Madrid.
  • I allowed myself a lot of flexibility - sleeping in a lot, not adhering to the timetable I'd set out - and focused instead on achieving my top two priorities every day: getting some editing work done and spending some time sitting with my writing.
  • I journaled every day about things I'd experienced (as opposed to writing to-do lists).
  • I started working on my pseudonym's WIP2 again and enlisted a Twitter friend to do writing sprints with me so I could actually stay on task during the writing time.
  • I practiced tai chi almost every day and went for a walk every day except yesterday (Sunday). 
  • I ate fruit. (You may be wondering why I mention this. It's because I am not known to be an eater of fruit and veg on a regular basis, and while I was in Madrid my diet consisted mainly of bread and meat.)
So was it giving myself long periods of time to sit around and do nothing? All the sleep? A healthier diet? Regular exercise? Uf. Who knows. Maybe it was everything together. But I do think there's something to be said for having given myself a good rest.

I know a writer who will block off a day here and there - she calls them "No Days" - where she can do whatever she wants except plan. No alarm, no coffee dates, no scheduled work time. She gets up when she feels like it and does whatever she's in the mood for in the moment. If she feels like calling up a friend to go have coffee, she does. If she feels like working on her writing project, she does. But the point is that there's no pressure to do any of that, no expectations coming from self or others. What a brilliant idea. Why do I not do this?

What do you do when you're head's too full to create? How do you break free of the writer's block?

And now for the ROW80 Update

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life." 

As I mentioned in my goals post for this round, I'm taking it a month at a time. My progress on this month's goals is as follows.

Get out & about for at least 2 hrs/day -With the exception of yesterday (Sunday), which I spent lolling about in bed listening to the rain, I got out for at least an hour every day. I've explored the streets in all four directions from my flat and am getting closer to finding a cafe (or two) to make my regular spot. Today is Bastille Day, so I'm hoping to connect with my friend G to see the fireworks down at the Eiffel Tower tonight.

Improve my French - Ooooof. My French is so rusty! But I put myself out there and conversed in French with a few people in a cafe, with a grocery store clerk and with my Airbnb hostess. In addition, I read the first few pages of L'histoire de ma vie by George Sand in French (didn't understand it, but I read it!) and I've been practicing using the Duolingo app. I'm hoping to be able to find a conversation partner for the rest of my time here. We'll see.

Finish first draft of pseudonym's WIP2 - My goal was to spend an hour a day on this while I have editing work. Since setting this goal on Wednesday I have spent about seven hours working on the WIP, which is two hours more than my goal. Yay! Will continue to try for an hour a day this coming week.

Two blog posts per week - Yes, I'm counting these ROW80 posts, so I posted one on here and one on my travel blog last week, and I'm ahead of the game for this week since I've posted on both blogs again today. Woot!

All in all, a good start to this round of ROW80, non?

This is a blog hop! Click here to see other ROW80 participants' Round 3, Week 2 check-ins.


  1. !!! Alone time + journaling = writer restart. I agree 100%. I journaled obsessively when I couldn't write, and then one day a switch just went off and I started redirecting that journaling energy to writing. I'm so so glad you found it again! Sometimes it just runs and hides somewhere and I don't know if there's exactly a spell for bringing it back. It's just about tricking yourself a little, I think.

    1. If only there were a formula that always worked! But it's good to know that alone time + journaling has worked for you too. I can add it to my list of things to try when my head gets so full of other crap that there's no room for original thought. Maybe journaling = purging = making space for new thoughts? Hmm...