FEELING STUCK? FIND THAT WRITING CAP!
BY JUDY KELLEM
It’s easy to move through the world without your writing cap – to pass the day having conversations wherein you’re not hearing “dialogue”; to interact with others without that internal narrator noting the “dramatic details” of the exchange. In fact, it can be a serious relief to turn off that artist voice inside that wants to make a story or scene out of practically every second of one’s existence.
It’s relief until you show up to your writing desk and find it’s very hard to get started, you’re feeling “blank” and even doing a revision of material that’s already written proves daunting – you keep coming up with “nothing”.
In these moments, it’s always a good idea to stop, relax, and go find your writing cap – that way of perceiving the world as MATERIAL.
You can start by narrating yourself, describing the details of yourself in that moment, earlier that day, leading up to trying to write. You can take detours into your interior – random thoughts you are having or were having hours before that you were not completely paying attention to, the impressions you had while walking or driving or talking to someone, which at the time you were not “hearing and seeing”. Remind yourself of the day before: What did you do, who were you with and how did you feel about it?
As you make these descriptions, no matter how mundane they may or may not seem, you are waking up the artist inside, forcing him or her to have a cup of coffee, find the hook where your writers cap hangs and put that cap firmly on your head. In so doing, you are replacing the mind’s eye that only looks, without much thinking and reminding it to really see, to start examining.
Once the cap is placed, call someone or go do some simple task wherein you are re-exposed to dialogue. Test your hearing. Are you starting to really pay attention to the way others speak? Are you again tuned in to the intonations people make, the subtle layers of deeper information they unconsciously (or consciously) reveal in what they say? Listen with your writer’s ear; watch the speaker with your writer’s eye – how do they express themselves, what body language do they use? How do they use their eyes? Identify the characteristics conveyed through the most casual conversation. The writing material will start to gather instantly.
Then go back to your desk. Chances are that blankness will have dissipated and your head will be lively with images and voices, ready for creative expression.
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