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Monday, December 28, 2015

Writing in the Desert


Droughts come and seem absolutely desperate for the writer. It feels like the rains will never come. You look to the heavens and... nothing. Not even a cloud of inspiration. Sitting in front of a computer screen looking at a blank document makes you feel like a dehydrated lump. Soon you're fighting the urge to give up and surf the web or check out what everyone else is doing on social media.

We've all been there. If it was a school assignment, a letter to a friend, a job assignment or that freelance article facing a deadline, we have all felt like the words would never come. It is a place where we feel so utterly inadequate. When dry seasons come it seems like creativity crumbles in our hands. It causes us undue concern and we use the dry season as the indicator of our ability to write. But is it, really?

I've had the opportunity on occasion to talk to aspiring writers who want to know how I overcome writer's block. How do I find water in the arid season? The simple answer is: I don't.

Did you know that there is life, even in the desert? Things can and do grow in the most unlikely places. Instead of looking to the sky for rain, the place to find life might be right under foot.

Here are three steps I take that might be helpful to you in your times of drought:

1. TAKE A BREAK from the task at hand. Whatever it is that your mind can't seem to connect to can be its own dead-lock. Start writing something else; a letter to a friend, a grocery list, a poem, a journal entry. Once you've oiled the gears you may discover a new found inspiration to write!

2. READ something that you enjoy. Pull that book or magazine that you've been wanting time to read off the shelf or pull out some of your old stuff and start reading your own writing. Relax your mind and give yourself something else to focus on. When your creativity is piqued, put the book down and start writing!

3. CHANGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS and go outside or to another room. Close your computer and grab a tablet and a pen and take a walk around the block. When inspiration takes hold start writing!

No matter what, don't panic! Droughts are for a season. Soon the storm clouds will cover the sky. In the meantime, find the blossoms in the sand.

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