Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coming Down

Photo: Mountains and Lakes of East Wakefield, NH

A few folks I know in this red room have mentioned how hard it is to step out of the busy-ness of our lives and to sit down and write.  I communicated with one about Coming Down (she calls it the "switch"), which basically is the dividing line between getting to a mental space where you can write, and not getting there.  She opined--correctly, I think--that writer's block could be nothing more than the inability to get to a mental space to write your ideas down.  It's not a failure to have those ideas, but rather an inability to Come Down so that you can put them on paper (or screen).

Today I have had a tough time Coming Down, mostly because I woke up (very) late and because of my anxiety about going back to work tomorrow.  (I've been on vacation, and due to some personal and family issues, have done little to catch up at my job.  And, no, I'm looking for no sympathy--"At least you had a vacation!" I know many are saying.)  But then I did something that allowed me to Come Down, and it did not involve wine--although I've had a few sips of that, too.

The WIP now is a very visual piece, and so it occurred to me that I should look at it that way.  I've finished the roughest drafts of the first two chapters, and today was time to flesh one of them out.  Stall, stall, stall.  Accomplish personal and family responsibilities; eat dinner; stall.  Then it hit me: I've taken tons of pictures of the mountains, lakes and gravestones around East Wakefield, NH, and Exeter, West Greenwich and Warwick, RI.  I've put them on the computer and on CDs.  Why not look at all of them at once?  (There are about 100.)  I did so, mostly to get the feel for the locals, smells, and minutae of the settings.  And--boom!--I had Come Down and I was (and still am) ready to go.

Try it.  Take pictures of what you're to write about and create a slideshow of them on your computer (after backing them up to a CD, of course.)  I put many of mine on Flickr, too.  But you can also put them on Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.  Then look at the photos that are representative of your work, and see what happens.  I'll bet you'll Come Down.


  1. Interesting definition of writers block - I agree. I'm always thinking about the WIP while I'm doing real life stuff - and many times I don't write it down (and forget it) or just can't force myself to work on a section. Sometimes outlining helps, or going to a coffee shop, but even then... it's still a real trick.

    Interesting idea with the photo's... not sure that would work for me though... but maybe.

  2. Sorry for responding so late, Austin...The picture thing works for me sometimes, but only to put me in the writing mood, not to write, if you know what I mean. What has helped me to write lately is writing poems. Wislowa Symborska and Robert Frost have no reason to fear my poetry, but for some reason writing them usually pushes me to write prose. Don't know why. Whatever works, right?