Use a Mirror to Manage Writer’s Block

Hot air balloon water reflection Quebec

Image via Wikipedia

At one point or another, you may feel as if you cannot write or as if the story is not flowing quite the way it is supposed to flow.  You may think that you have been plagued by writer’s block (or artist’s block) and when you try to work on your novel or art, you cannot go back to it, as if something prevents you from it.  I have been there and what I found out was that it was not so much of a writer’s block, but more of a conflict with a particular part of the story.  It may be a character, beliefs, philosophy, or even a particular scene.  Somehow, you have an internal reaction or “a problem” with it.  It may be that you do not agree with something that you happen to be writing, but know that you have to write, whether it is to keep the story going, or by mere inspiration.  When you feel that you are stuck with the story, take a break and ponder about the last thing you wrote.  Take notice of how you feel about it, and if an internal bell rings.  This is a sign that you have something to work on (on yourself) before proceeding ahead with the story.  The way I see it (and this is only by my experience with this) is that you either,

  • acknowledge it and ignore it, meaning that you know the bug is there but you will ignore it and keep writing; however, it will come back along the way, impeding total free flow of your writing.
  • take a short break, acknowledge it, ponder it, and make peace with it.  I find that just because I may not agree with something in my story, that does not mean that I am selling out my beliefs.  In the case of an internal conflict that one of your characters or scenes brings up, acknowledge it, try to find the link between your conflict and the story, understand it and move on.

The main thing here is that by recognizing that there is an internal conflict you are looking in a mirror, and therefore, are starting to open the flow of your writing once more.  The mere act of looking at that reflection in the mirror is going to help unblock your writing.  At least for me, it works that way.

Hope this tip is of any help.

Of Faith and Seamonkeys

Have you ever doubt your existence?  I have to admit that since I noticed the change in lunar and solar activity (see previous post with pictures), I visited YouTube looking for videos of people who have experienced the same.  A few of them were jokes and alien propaganda … but others seemed legitimate, and were only of people filming what they thought was wrong with the moon or sun from their perspective or points of reference (a building, a window …)  This made me think a bit about my existence and what I think of it.

Here is how I see it.  I need a purpose to exist, the mere organic existence just doesn’t do it for me; I mean, I do believe in a Creator of all (although not in the traditional religious sense) and I have searched for my purpose for the longest.  It keeps me going through thick and thin.  In addition, I like the concept of faith – whether it is faith in a God or Creator, Spirit, Soul, Science, Beauty, the Human Spirit, or the Universe or universal and natural order of things.  The point is that I see purpose and faith in one of those above mentioned things closely related to our existence on the planet and the universe, whether you are an Atheist, Agnostic, a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist … you put your faith and purpose in something, even if you worship the Devil, you put your belief in something, and it gives you purpose to keep going in one direction.

Many of these videos talked about observations, theories, government conspiracy, a holographic moon, a fake moon, FEMA renting acres of land to store tons of coffins and aerial/terrestrial pictures and video of those … and other interesting stuff (as long as it was presented organized and in a serious way).  The topic of seamonkeys popped in my mind.  What if we were somebody’s seamonkeys?  What if we were an experiment, an organic test …?  What if our existence was a mere organic existence or one compared to a Truman Show existence?  What if there was no real purpose?

I did not like were my brain was headed – no purpose?  Then I asked myself how would I feel about this, if one day, I was told that there is nothing more than a tiny test terrarium called Earth and that it was all an interesting experiment, that evolution was just started to see how far it  would all go, and that we created everything else, given a few cues here and there.   I pondered this and I got my answer.  Here is my answer to that possibility.

First, realizing that the concepts of faith, purpose, science or creator, spirituality, or universal order  had been eliminated, I would be a very Pissed Human.  I would be mad at everything around me, then would have considered most of my existence futile and useless.  I would have no goals left, and I would crash for a while – my world, just as Truman’s world, would crash.  After that, one amazing thing started to happen once the fireworks and anger subsided – I looked around me and saw all the beauty inside the terrarium/tank, all the friends and loved ones, and all the other seamonkeys around it.  I saw the beauty that these creatures created out of nothing, out of a lie, and realized that all along, the faith and purpose, the creator, the science and the universe, was not outside the terrarium, but on the inside of every seamonkey on that terrarium called Earth.  After that, the rest didn’t matter at all, there was no anger, and there were only possibilities, tons of possibilities, many of them outside the terrarium, others on the inside, and many others, tons of them, in a world with no limits, no constraints, and no boundaries.

And that is, my friends,  the answer to my question.

Weed Out the Dead Stuff – It is all a Death Trap

“This is a great idea!” – we have thought at one point or another.  It may be a good idea, but good ideas are sometimes, not well received or are ahead of their time.  Pride in what we do is great; however, pride should not block our vision, stalling our future.  Simply put, “try it, give it some time, and if it doesn’t work, weed it out.”  This is something that I’ve learned with time.  The problem is when we are so emotionally and intellectually attached to our work/idea that we forget to evaluate its performance and choose to ignore the fact that it is not yielding the results we expected.  You may spend years pushing a project, to find out that it was time to let it go, years back.  Just because a good idea is not ready for the now, doesn’t mean that it is rendered obsolete or useless.  It may have a good reception in the future.  An idea or project may be ahead of its time, so if you have given a good and honest try to something and it is not working out for you, put it aside, and revisit it in the future, or not.

Weeding out all the dead stuff is a way of opening room for new ideas and opportunities.  It hurts to let go of a project, especially when we spend a lot of time, energy, money, commitment, and emotional interest in it; however, not weeding out the dead stuff might end up crushing your spirit, impeding growth as an artist and as a human being.  This is a death trap for the soul.

For many of us, letting go of a project or putting it aside is synonym of failure.  I disagree; on the contrary, recognizing the need to move and rearrange ideas and projects will lead to success.  Success is defined by how you feel about the results, and not by what society tells you success is – which is usually money or status.  We are so conditioned to “the persevere-never quit mentality” that we fail to recognize when things are not working out.  If you are passionate about something, pursue it, but keep your gardening gloves on, and weed out everything that is not contributing to that dream’s growth; only then, it can flourish.  In the garden of your dreams, time is precious, don’t waste it trying to revive dead roses; instead, plant new ones.  (Could not resist ending this post with that cheesy line).

What to Do When your Mind Won’t Shut Up

A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s

Image via Wikipedia

I decided to write this post because this is an issue that I deal with sometimes, and it can get in the way of my writing, and whatever project I am working on at the moment.  Sometimes, my mind won’t shut up.  By that I mean that there is a constant overflow of ideas and images, phrases, possible projects, music … and much more that bombards me all at once throughout the day.  When this happens, it is hard to tackle something for long.  It has nothing to do with focus or concentration, I have no problem in that area.  I am blessed in the sense that I can block anything around me and work on something.   Sometimes, too much focus, for example, one day I was working on several freelance articles for a client and while sitting at my desk, I noticed a shadow blocking the window light.  I glanced and I saw a firefighter woman looking at me through the window glass.  Behind her, in my backyard, there were many firefighters, about four of them, running around.  I figured that something was wrong.  I went outside and asked the woman what was going on.  She said if i didn’t smell the smoke.  I said, now I do.  A neighbor decided to burn some brush and someone complained thinking it was a fire, and the firemen followed the smoke to my backyard but it was coming from my back neighbor’s backyard, not mine.  She asked me if I didn’t hear them knocking and I said no.  When I went to the front of my house, there was a fire truck parked on the front and other firemen walking in my front yard.

On another occasion, I had been working on some freelance stuff all day and my husband came home from work, around 5pm.  He came into the room and seemed alarmed.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, don’t you hear all that?  Then he told me to come outside.  I live in a very quiet neighborhood and people are very nice; it is usually very quiet during the day, so my husband was concerned that the street in the back or our home was blocked by police, there were many reporters, news vans, police cars, and even a few helicopters hovering on top of our home.  A neighbor told us that a woman had been murdered in her home, she was actually burned in her bedroom, a very sad incident for this neighborhood.  This commotion had happened since early in the morning and I never even heard a thing.  The street is right behind my house.  These are two examples of how I can get wrapped in what I am doing and not hear anything.

However, I can hear my mind and when it doesn’ t want to shut up, I have a trick that seems to work.  I just empty it.  I know, I probably sound nuts, but it works.  I take a piece of paper and start writing everything that comes to mind, just jotting a few words, not sentences, quite fast, whether an image, a word, and idea for a project, a scene, a title, anything at all gets written, until I stop.  Then I can go back to what I was doing and work happily.  The ideas may serve for something later on, or not.  This trick works for me.  You may want to try it, if you find yourself wrestling with your mind on occasion.