The first time I read The Artist’s Way I balked about the week where I wasn’t supposed to read or watch TV. What the heck was I supposed to do with myself? Horrified, I sat around wondering what to do with all the time I had on my hands.
If you have never read or used it, I cannot recommend The Artist’s Way enough. Twice in my life the 12 week study has moved me out of a tough period where my writing turned its back on me. Listen, I don’t want to get into a debate about whether you or I believe in writer’s block. Sometimes, for reasons I do not understand, I find writing so difficult I would rather have my finger nails pulled out than continue. I call it my capricious muse taking a holiday.
My muse is female, flirty and sarcastic. Muse cusses more than the sailor I am married to. Often, I have to bribe her to work. She is endlessly amusing. For some reason, she never wants to work when I do. In my head, she looks like TinkerBell. We have a love/hate relationship.
I was well into my week of abstinence from other peoples stories when I realized I really wanted to get back to writing mine. Something had shifted while my brain took a vacation. By not covering up the emotions, I found better uses for them. They became a friend instead of an enemy to attach to the page.
What are you using as a pacifier? What thing or series of things do you jump to when the work gets hard and the emotions are too real?
Writing should be emotional. Unless you are writing a manual, you have to use your own library of negative and positive feelings and mold them around the story you see playing in your head. Sometimes this can be painful. There are moments when I am in a scene, and I feel I need to walk away. If I’ve done my job right, the book will hurt as much as it pleases me.
I’ve noticed when I’ve had a hard session, I reach for another book. Dropping into a new world, letting words fold around me, I put a damper on which ever emotion I had been drowning in. I might as well have put a pacifier in my mouth because I put a stopper right in the muse’s voice.
Most of us are very uncomfortable when we face something overwhelming. Writing opens a door to the deepest of our sorrows and highest peaks of joy. I don’t know about you, but I can be childish when faced with too much on my plate. A tantrum, a book and some chocolate gives me enough running room to come back to the work the next day.
As requested, I didn’t read, write or watch TV for a week. I would love to tell you I completed some fabulous craft project, or cleaned out my closet, but I didn’t. There was the odd nap which I remember as decadent and delicious. I sat on the back porch and enjoyed my small garden. I played with the dogs.
When I was "allowed" to come back to the page, I couldn't seem to stop the words. My productivity took off, and I more than made up for the time off. Plus, I wrote some real stuff. Powerful in it's beauty. The words we all want to flow when we sit down to write. The kind you hate to kill later in the editing process, so you snip it out and put it in the file to remind yourself you can be eloquent on occasion.
No matter your pacifier, I recommend you take a break. Let yourself settle with more time to be. You will know you have found the right activity to drop when you think you can’t live without it. You can. You will. You deserve it.
How do you abuse your muse? Leave a comment below. I love hearing from you.