I came up with this catchy (?) blog post title because I was feeling my wells of Thursday’s Children inspiration running dry. For weeks now I’ve been able to come up with something at least slightly different every time. Not today. So instead I thought I’d consider that word: ‘nothing’.
I guess you could say it’s a word that us writers dread. The feeling we – or certainly I – get when yearning for a bit of inspiration, but as we stare at the computer screen nothing comes to mind. We can’t focus; we may be able to write something but it’s not what we were intending to write, it’s not good enough for us. It’s nothing.
So I guess what I was thinking of making a point about is just this: how do we as writers get past the ‘nothing’ stage and reach the ‘something’ stage instead, the stage where we can actually write? Perhaps you think I’m talking about writer’s block and I suppose you could say that. But it’s not simply writer’s block, I don’t think. It’s not just that we can’t think of what to write. It’s also that we’ve lost the ability to get our brains to focus and get out of this funk where we simply can’t see past the next paragraph.
I think at times like this there are a number of things we can do. And they don’t all involve writing or other writers. Sometimes we just need time away from that computer. Or manuscript. It can be good to take a complete break, re-energize our ‘little grey cells’ as that famous fictional detective Hercule Poirot would say. If you can afford it, why not have a short holiday? Maybe a long weekend somewhere you’ve never been before. It doesn’t have to be abroad; it could be somewhere in your own country you’ve never visited. You might want to take a notepad and pen with you – but maybe leave it at that.
Don’t take the laptop, printout or detailed notes. Have a rest – you’ve earned it. Just focus on the real world around you for a change, not the one in your head. Or if not a holiday, maybe change your daily routine a little if you can. Try walking the kids to school instead of driving them. Do what I often do and get off the bus a few stops early to walk the last quarter of a mile. Get out and about on your bike if you have one. Enjoy the great outdoors.
Because as hard as it may be, sometimes we need to escape from our writing. We need time out to recharge our batteries. I know it’s a well worn saying, but it’s true. You could get out and see your friends more. When you meet them, try not to talk writing. Talk about your families, your hopes for the future (maybe keep writing out of your big plans for the future if you can), any future holidays you may have planned. Hey you could even talk politics. (Or maybe not if you don’t want a big argument with your best friend because you’ve discovered that politically at least you’re poles apart!!)
Read a book. Choose one that’s a completely different genre from your own novel. Because it can be so easy to just settle down into the same grooves, and read something that you’re comparing your work-in-progress to. I find reading can be an escape. Why not read a classic novel? Maybe that might take your mind away from that early 21st century vampire novel you’re trying to write. It could be a British novel from the nineteenth century. Or perhaps an American novel from the 1920s. Either way, escapism is key I think.
Then when you think you’ve had so much caffeine at those coffee shops with your friend that you’re never going to sleep again, or you’re broke after spending money you really didn’t have whilst on that quick getaway holiday, why not return to your work-in-progress. You might just find that your ‘nothing’ has turned to ‘something’ after your time spent away from it. As has this blog post for me. 🙂
If you would like to take part in Thursday’s Children, simply write a blog post about whatever inspires your writing. Then add your name to this linky. Thanks once again to the wonderful Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.