- Close your laptop. Wait…not yet, read this first. After you close your laptop, pick up a pen and a little notebook – the tiny kind you always got in your Christmas stocking because they were four for a dollar and came in different colors and your mom thought they were “so cute.” (You should be able to find one in that box under your bed where you threw all the gifts from your Christmas stocking that weren’t edible.) Head out to a place you’ve never been – a new coffee shop, a park bench, a bus station – anywhere you might find at least one other person. Now, make up a story about someone and write it down in your cute little notebook. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling or any of those details, just write whatever comes to mind. If anyone asks what you’re doing, quickly stuff the notebook in your pocket and say “Oh, nothing…nothing at all,” then look around nervously and run away as fast as you can. If the writing exercise doesn’t kick-start the writer-brain, the endorphin rush should.
- Read a chapter in a really good book. Or a really bad one. Which you choose will depend on how you’re motivated. Does a beautifully-written sentence bring you to tears? Does it compel you to find out if the author is single? Does it validate the existence of God? Choose the really good book, then float on that good feeling back to your work-in-progress. Otherwise, go with the crappy book. Because even your pet cockatoo can write better than that.
- Take a shower. (Or, if you’re so inclined, a bath.) Let the water wash away the mud that’s caking in your brain. Hey, you’ll be surprised how well this works. A walk in the rain works great, too, but such an opportunity is subject to the whims of God. (Unless you happen to be best pals with a super-villain who has a secret weather-control device he’s planning to use soon to take over the world. Then it’s just a matter of calling in a favor.)
- Re-arrange your office or workspace. You know you’ve been wanting to do this for months anyway. Get out some graph paper and sketch out the new locations for your desk, your leather recliner with built-in cup holder, your fully-stocked minibar fridge, and your brass busts of Fitzgerald, Tolkien and Sedaris. Then move those things. Remember to lift with your legs, not your back. When you sit down to write, you’ll be in a whole new office. Or you could just pick a neighbor at random and go use their computer.
- Pour out your angst in a letter…to yourself. Yes, you should use real stationery for this (check under the bed for that, too). In your letter, share your frustrations, complain about your inability to write a single coherent sentence, yell at yourself for being so stupid as to think you could ever be a writer. Stuff the letter in an envelope, then ask a friend to hand it to you as if it just came in the mail. Act surprised when your friend gives it to you. Say something like “I almost never get real letters anymore!” Open it. Read it. Sympathize for a moment with this poor, poor soul. Then mumble “what a whiny, pathetic fool” under your breath and go write so you don’t end up a loser like that woe-is-me letter-writer.
- Ride a roller coaster, preferably one with a name like “brain twister” or “heart-stopper.” No roller coaster nearby? Then just go to the nearest playground and spin on that merry-go-round until you’re dizzy-sick.
- And, if you’re too lazy to do anything that pulls you out of your chair, play a game of online Scrabble. Seriously, just do it. Then, when you’ve filled the board with all those seven-letter words, make up a short story that uses them all. All that letter arranging and re-arranging and word-forming and story-creating should sufficiently clear your brain blockage. Now you can go back to your work in progress.
Contest reminder: Look for this blog’s first writing contest to be announced on Friday. I’m still not going to say any more about it yet. But between now and then, tell at least some of your friends about noveldoctor.com – preferably the ones who are writers or wish they were writers. The greater the number of visitors to the blog this week, the bigger (and cooler) the contest prize.