Earlier this year I talked about the importance of blocking out your time when writing a book and even provided an example of my schedule in a block format. But what good is having a schedule if you don’t stick to it? When it’s time to start, don’t make one more phone call; turn off your phone. If you want coffee, have it on your desk when you sit down at your appointed time. Don’t play games with yourself. If you’re tired, then do it tired. If you’re frustrated, then do it frustrated. If you feel stuck, then do it while feeling stuck.
Having said that, there could be something that stands in your way. It’s your brain. For example, it’s time to write, and you know what you’re going to write. But you just got home after a long commute, or you were balancing your checkbook five minutes earlier, or you dropped your kids off at school after a hectic morning. Your brain can’t simply shift from chaos to creative; it needs time to transition.
You’ve probably heard a lot about writer’s block and that some writers claim they can’t write a word because of it. That’s bunk. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It simply means that a writer isn’t writing, and the only way to correct that is to write.
Writers Block Strategy—Clear Your Head
You can write, and you can write at any time and any place. I even contend that you can write your book in fifteen-minute increments if all you have is the back of a napkin and a pen. Your biggest challenge isn’t finding time to write; it’s clearing your head to do it.
Here’s a little exercise that will help you do that. Read it through a couple of times and then give it a try. It’s a simple guided meditation.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath. Breathe in . . . and out, in . . . and out.
Keep your eyes closed.
Picture a paperclip.
Fasten it in your mind.
Look at it, feel it, regard it from all angles.
Now let the words that describe that paperclip explode in your mind. Shiny, smooth, cold. Continue to find words that describe the paperclip for thirty seconds. Exhaust your vocabulary.
You know that paperclip. You know it from all angles. You see it before you.
Keeping your eyes closed, remember your first kiss.
Feel it, smell it, taste it, love it, hate it, welcome it, resist it.
Your kiss, that kiss, you remember it don’t you?
Now open your eyes, and for the next five minutes, write—in detail—about that moment of your first kiss.
If you followed that guidance, in less than one minute you were able to clear your mind by putting all your focus on a simple, inanimate object. Then you switched your focus to something else that was memorable, and you were prepared to write.
This technique can work for you every time you sit down to write. You don’t have to limit your item to a paperclip; any simple item will do. I like screwdrivers, coffee mugs, picture frames, staplers—whatever. The trick is to fully visualize the item and let the descriptive words pop. Then, when I turn my attention to what I need to write, I’m no longer thinking about email, budgets, employees, or pets. I’m fully focused on my subject matter. Try this exercise next time you sit down and write and get ready for the creative juices to flow!