In reflecting on my trip to Kenya, I’ve noticed a change and that is wanting to be in action. It would help explain why I’m a bit stuck in my writing as well. To prevent or get over writer’s block, it helps to do something. The what doesn’t matter as much as the doing. It could be gardening, raising horses, cooking, training dogs, carpentry… a task that develops competence over time and ideally produces a product or result. It keeps your words grounded in the real world and that helps create a connection with the reader.
It’s easy to dismiss the advice in The Artist’s Way, except that it works. She notes that sewing, carpentry and knitting help fix plot holes, cooking and baking teach us to blend words or plot elements like ingredients. But there’s something more – learning to do those sorts of tasks, hobbies, trades, etc. keep your words from becoming mere ciphers, keeping words connected to concrete things. Instead of sitting around trying to come up with a metaphor, you’re in the midst of real smells, feels, tastes, sounds and over time, they will inform the writing and develop your voice.
And it’s time (again) for me to take my own advice. For me, it’s usually cooking. I wish I’d had the opportunity to spend a summer writing when my great-aunt had her farm (when she was in residence, we called it Frantic Farm). I did spend a summer there, taking care of cows, feeding dozens of chickens and ducks, tending crops, cleaning out coops and fireplaces and so on. An artist friend bought a place that needs work. Do I know anything about drywall? No. Can I learn? Yes. Will it help with my writing. Yep. What do you do or what skill will you learn?
FYI, re the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Rob Halligan is doing an online radio show. Please listen online tomorrow at www.robhalligan.co.uk 9pm (UK Time) or www.radioplus.org.uk
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