Writing Secrets: Is your writing intention staring at you fiercely?

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

So the year has begun. And now your creative intention is staring you in the face, and it has a ferocious expression.

It seemed easy enough a couple of weeks ago. If you took any notice of my last blog, you’ll have set yourself a manageable target to keep writing and being creative through the year.

But now you have to put it into practice and your heart is beating, your hands are sticky, and you’re ready to beat yourself with that same old stick: “I always do this? I never manage to keep it going.” You can’t even think of the word for … writing with ease and putting things across clearly? Oh yes, eloquence.

Don’t panic. There are tricks to get yourself going.

Try a little free writing. Set a time, but not an intention. Write without expectations or self-censure for ten or fifteen minutes. It’ll calm you down and get the ideas flowing.

And here’s my perennial advice. If your mind is blank, stare at the screen.

Sometimes it may seem as though the easiest thing would be not to put yourself through that agony. Why should you? Nothing’s coming and you’re clearly not going to write anything of any worth.

Except that, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be. You will begin to dread sitting down to that now familiar cloud which blocks your creative vision.

This is my secret: keep staring at the empty screen. Don’t allow yourself to rise, except perhaps to make a cup of tea. But only one. Write a word, perhaps two. You will be dragging them from a morass, but keep dragging. After a while, three might trickle forth.

If you keep forcing the words out, one at a time, they will begin to flow. And when you come back later and assess your writing, you’ll see no difference between that and the writing which flowed so fluently. In fact, it may even be slightly better.

Part of what blanks the mind is fear. Face your fear by staring at that screen. Set your writing times for the week. Don’t wait for inspiration. You’ll be ninety-four and the inspiration will finally strike … but you won’t remember what it was for.

Ring-fence your writing time. Don’t allow anything to intrude on it. Don’t ever allow yourself to think: oh hell, I didn’t finish doing my tax. I’ll use …

No, and don’t let anyone else encroach on it either. If you tell people you’ll be writing, they’ll think: Oh yay, she’s not working. I’ll surprise her by turning up for a coffee. Lie if necessary. Tell them you have this massive deadline and won’t be able to pay your rent unless you work Saturday morning.

Lying is such good practice, anyway. You can feel virtuous about it. It’s an excellent way of developing your imagination.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: A little Latin to perk us up

Upcoming course:

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Cape Town Creative Saturday: 1 February

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