Dear Fretting Liz
Oh look, here you are again. Finding it all a bit hard and wondering if you’ve lost your writing ability and it’s all over. Let me guess…half way through writing a new book? Yup, thought so.
OK, the great thing is that because I am in fact you, I know how you tick. I understand totally how you’re feeling, and I know the kinds of tricks that usually help you recover your mojo. So how about you stand back from being you for a minute, imagine you are a writing buddy in trouble, and see if you can give them the kind of advice that you would like to hear yourself?
Ah, forget that. I’ll do it for you. Here goes. Ten of my (and your) best getting-back-in-the-zone tips and tricks…
1. Re-read that blog you wrote years ago about the Seasons of Writing, and remember, sometimes you think that the spring has started and a few wintry days come along and take you by surprise. That’s nothing to worry about. It’s nature, and it will pass.
2. Take a few days off. Don’t argue. You can afford to. In fact, you can’t afford not to. Go on an Artist Date. Your well is depleted and needs restocking. Get out there and fill it up with some lovely creative energy.
3. Rewrite your writing schedule so that you can see in black and white (or red and blue and green) that you can afford the time to play out for a bit and still meet your deadline.
4. Get out in the fresh air. Go for lovely windy coastal walks. Surf, sail, kayak. Blow those cobwebs away.
5. Ask your wife to read what you’ve written, then go out in your van together and spend the afternoon talking about how you can fix it.
6. Make collages, draw pictures of the plot, flick through magazines for pictures of your characters, do some writing exercises. Y’know, the stuff you advise others to do when they tell you they're stuck.
7. Try to avoid calling your agent and telling her that you can’t do this writing lark any more. She will remind you that you’ve been here before and will suggest you see how the next week goes and that if you still feel this way in a week’s time, you can talk more. So cut out the middle man and save her a conversation. See how the next week goes, and if you still feel this way in a week’s time, you can talk to her then.
8. Tidy your office. You know you can’t expect your mind to feel clear and clean when your office looks like a particularly messy burglar has ransacked the place.
9. Meditate. Don’t say you haven’t got time. Just do it.
10. Write a blog about how you’re feeling, so that others can a) hopefully make use of some of your tips and b) possibly contribute some of their own.
OK, I think that should do it. Now, go have some fun. And when you’re done, get back to work. Trust me, your characters will be just as happy as you to have had some time off. When they see how chilled and happy and raring to go the new you is, they will welcome you back with enthusiasm and open up to you a lot more than they have been doing.
(The part of you that knows you know all this anyway, but also knows you need reminding from time to time.)