Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Getting Unstuck

When the words don't flow, when the ideas are lame, when the brain is mush and the eyes crossed, there is nothing left to do but throw up my hands and admit I'm stuck, flat out stuck. There are all sorts of evasive measures I'll take to prime the pump. But if weeding/mulching/pruning all 16 roses, vacuuming lint out of the crevisses of the sofa, washing every reachable curtain, changing the oil in my car, grooming the cats, answering email, and laying in supplies for the winter hasn't brought forth the juices of creativity, then I apply the following 7 steps, in the method of a religious ritual.

1)Remind myself I can quit writing any time; it's not like I'm getting paid the big bucks here.

2)Find some walnuts, hard apples, stale chips, anything to gnash with my teeth as I have probably gnawed my fingers to bleeding stumps, thus accounting for the small red-brown smears on the final paper drafts, something electronic submissions can't yet transmit—thank you, thank you, Goddess of All Small Things.

3)Consume vast quantities of coffee to get the heart rate up and the blood flowing, hauling a fresh dose of oxygen up to the brain, shaking loose cobwebs, freeing up ideas, making connections.

4)Consume even vaster amounts of chocolate to raise the serotonin levels, lubricating all the newly loosened brain-parts.

5)Within the hour, I'll be jittery, sweaty and queasy from the odd combination of foodstuffs, caffeine-overdose and oncoming insulin shock. I bolt out the door for a very, very long walk around town, muttering to myself in the voices of my characters. That is, not only talking to myself but answering, the classic definition of schizophrenia.

6)Returning home, I'm exhausted and in some sort of trance. Surely something will arrive when I sit down at the keyboard, as there is nothing left in my puddin'headed brain to offer any resistance.

7)If all else fails, I write to the Tiny Lights question of the month. By the time I'm finished, the day has passed and I'm off the hook. Tomorrow, I swear, I'll finish the novella.

(published courtesy of

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