I went to a new Meet-up this morning called Shut Up and Write! I find that as a writing coach, I am very good at telling my writers how and when to write or my authors how to get out their books, but as a writer, I am not very good at finding time to write my own 'stuff'. Reminds me of the sayings about those cobbler kids without shoes, or the doctor's kids who are always sick. Healer, heal thyself! I needed to get writing for myself.
So, I signed on to this Meet-up where we take 6 hours to WRITE... with no interruptions other than the occasional check-in for writing support. It's at a cafe where food and drink are right here so no excuses to get up and make some food. I can't do my laundry, surf the net or watch TV, do the dishes, play in my garden or any of the million of other little things I do (and tell my writers NOT to do!) to interrupt a consistent writing time.
We all introduced ourselves and mentioned a few things that seemed important to us at the time. One woman mentioned that the day before, she had locked herself into a stairwell in a large, downtown San Francisco building. She pounded and pounded on the door but slowly began to freak out as no one could hear her. Apparently, they were all listening to the World Series game and loudly cheering so pounding was to no avail. Eventually, a crowd of guys passed by and saw her behind the door and let her in.
At this point she was in a full blown panic attack, crying and probably thinking she'd die there. Although it seemed like hours to her, she said it was probably only 5 minutes. However, she became so caught up with the situation that she couldn't see her way out. One of the guys who 'rescued' her then pointed to another door and said she could have just come out that way because it was always unlocked.
I immediately saw the metaphor of her experience to writing (or life in general for that matter). How many times have you been stuck in your writing, pounding on the doors of writing paralysis and unable to break through? You start panicking, afraid that nothing will ever get written. You will never get out of your dark hole of frustration, crumpling up page after page and becoming more and more thwarted as the words fail to come and rescue you.
My advice? Just look for that unlocked door and step through. Stop, take a breath. Take a walk. Take a break. Read a book. But most importantly, just take a look around and see what's around you. If you can't think of anything to write about, open that unlocked door and write about the first thing you see behind that door. Don't get into that spot where panic takes hold and you become immobilized and forget to look for all those unlocked doors that are all around you all the time. Remember, YOU are in charge of your writing, not your situation.
And look at me! I've only been at this Writing Meet-up for a couple of hours and I've already written a few blog posts and am getting ready to continue on the next chapter of my first novel (how's that for opening doors...moving from all my previous non-fiction writing to fiction!) I had no idea about this blog before the idea jumped into my head when listening to someone's story about being behind locked doors, but a door opened for me and I jumped through with words. Writer, write thy book!!
For those of you who would like more tips on how to deal with writing paralysis, or how to work with me 1 on 1 to get your ideas down on paper, please contact me and let's chat about what you need.