And still I’m blocked…

inktuition and still I'm blocked

 

All the work I’ve done on myself:

the therapy, the healing,

the certificates I’ve gained,

the triumph of Masters degrees.

And still I’m blocked.

 

All the promises I’ve made,

to stay true to my talent,

seem to land on fertile turf,

yet remain fallow, dry, non-manifest.

And still I’m blocked.

 

All the years I’ve passed,

with fresh intentions each Jan

that fade to grey, nudging into Feb.

In March it’s as if they never began.

And still I’m blocked.

 

All the distractions I excitedly seek.

New garden: tick. Weekly weeding: tock.

Jobs to take my mind off the task,

decade after decade. That’s the shock.

And still I’m blocked.

 

All the futures I’ll never achieve:

what will be my hand-me-down glory?

A creative life chronically unlived?

Or trusting what’s for me won’t go past me?

 

Knowing all of this… and more.

And still I’m blocked.

 

(pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/KROMKRATHOG)

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A poem for my love of writing distractions

How can I distract myself? Let me count the ways.

It’s amazing how I can usefully and helpfully fill my days.

My sink is super-shiny, my rubber gloves worn out.

My fridge has no more mould, just freshly prepared trout.

That old shed of mine, with boxes of old books,

is now a spider-free den; a children-friendly nook.

The piles of beauty sachets in my bathroom cabinet

now languish in the bin. They give me no regrets.

The stray strands in my eyebrow, the split ends of my hair

are now all clipped and neat. All are gone, I swear.

The clothes from years gone by, that I promised I’d wear again,

are stuffed in plump black sacks, going to causes humane.

The oven’s clean and spick, dried-in dribbles gone.

Anyone would think I’m a domestic goddess reborn.

But every writer has to go there,

to a cave-like, darkened gloom;

to that wibbly-wobbly place

before you move from womb to bloom.

So when the deadline’s there

and you’re picking up the pace,

remember to give some space

to creativity’s ultimate grace.

Why a poem a day keeps procrastination at bay

I loved taking part in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). OK, so I didn’t manage the full 30 poems in 30 days, but I did post 26 out of the 30 ( I started two days late anyway).

I’m proud of what I achieved. I rocked up at the page pretty much every day for a month and wrote rhyming words about something front of mind that day.

Here’s what I learned from taking part in NaPoWriMo:

  1. I committed to something publicly. Therefore I felt duty bound to honour that commitment. 
  2. Poems are fantastic at capturing a tiny fragment of time. 
  3. I wrote poems about completely random things, like my kitchen skylight and a scarecrowess I photographed at a farm.
  4. I had no idea what I was going to write about until I sat down with my laptop.
  5. I only like writing poems that rhyme. They make me feel held and contained.
  6. The discipline of writing a poem kept my thoughts and feelings focused.
  7. I didn’t do any censoring. I just let the poems flow. 
  8. I wrote for fun and challenge, not for any other reason.
  9. I never found excuses not to write the poems. The only days I missed were times I was busy with family stuff and nowhere near my laptop.
  10. Today feels odd not writing in rhyme.
  11. Sometimes I ran out of ideas but still wrote a poem anyway.
  12. I love the discipline and shape of the poems I wrote. 
  13. I noticed that my repetitive themes are about shadow and death. Existential issues evidently emerging.
  14. I will continue to write poems as the mood takes me. I do anyway, but I have exercised a muscle that will need to be used and stretched regularly.
  15. Hidden pieces of me are now being seen. The act of revealing is where the healing happens.
  16. Other bloggers liked my poems. How generous the writing community is.
  17. Some of my poems got favourited on Twitter. How humbling that was.
  18. I felt resentment some days, but wrote anyway.
  19. I feel I have grown as a person.
  20. Procrastination didn’t even get a look in. If you want to get writing, get poem-ing.

Thank you, NaPoWriMo!

Writers are beating procrastination by blocking their internet access

I’ve read some insightful and hilarious articles on procrastination this week, from writer Rowan Pelling’s piece on Why do we procrastinate so much? to the follow-up response on the BBC website Procrastination: Readers’ epic tales of timewasting. The lengths some people go to – just to avoid doing a task they don’t want to do – are astonishing.

Problem is, I can identify with some of them – ok, not some of the more extreme tactics, but certainly the ‘oh, that bottom drawer of the fridge needs to be cleaned out urgently’, or ‘I really need to help my daughter complete that 500-piece jigsaw puzzle’. The worst, of course, is that quick flick onto a news website, just to check what’s going on in the world, only to find that more than an hour has passed and I still haven’t got beyond paragraph two of the project I was meant to be focusing on that’s now got a looming deadline.

Which is why I was curious to hear that famous authors are turning to internet-blocking software to stop them getting distracted from writing their next novel. Zadie Smith did it for her latest book, NW, according to the Daily Mail – and Nick Hornby also apparently uses similar software so he isn’t tempted to wander onto the net when he should be clocking up his word count for the day.

Some of the comments at the bottom of the Daily Mail story also made me laugh, mocking the writers for turning their internet connectivity on in the first place. But I can see the point if you’ve got publishers and readers waiting for your next work of art.

Otherwise, if writers really can’t resist the lures of the internet on their laptop, they could always return to using pen and paper. But that’s another discussion entirely…

Why I’ll always be Queen of the Last Minute

Without the last minute, so the old saying goes, nothing would ever get done. Give me extreme pressure, less time than I actually need, and I’ll whip that deadline into shape. And produce something brilliant. Leave the ending open and the task will hang around tormenting me. And anything I do attempt to produce will be flabby or fall flat (in my mind, anyway).

Who can resist the urge to beat the race against time…? (istockphoto.com/Watcha)

Except I thought I was better than that: I’m a consummate planner, with a social diary that is meticulous and varied, and a work diary that is packed and tightly managed. So why is it that a task comes along that I don’t want to do, and the not-doing the task drains more energy than actually doing the task would.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task,” says William James.

Quite.

Here’s another great quote about procrastination: “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” Olin Miller

There’s been a mighty hard job hanging around my shoulders over the last three weeks. Not hard in terms of Continue reading

The quote that ALWAYS gets me writing

When I realise I’ve been procrastinating or avoiding writing my novel – finding distractions in my fridge, my garden or online, – I take a peek at a quote I have pinned up on my wall that reminds me there’s only so much fiddling about I can do. I can either get on with it, or spend the rest of my life wondering and wishing. I can pretend I’m not inspired, or wait for it to strike, or I can sit at my desk and write – and that in itself is inspiration.

This quote sticks a lump to my throat, trickles tears down my cheeks, and triggers my existential concerns. It also gives me a twist of guilt, and a wistful motivation to write the next chapter. Because time is ticking and I haven’t yet achieved by  long-held dream of being a published author.

“The song I came to sing
remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing
and in unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true,
the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony
of wishing in my heart.”

Rabindranath Tagore

 

are all writers fussy about fonts?

When I’m doing creative writing, or even writing a news story or report, I can’t let anything get in the way: not a keyboard that sticks, not a noise in the room that’s annoying, and certainly not a font that’s distracting.

The only font I can use to create  is Times New Roman 12pt. Anything else takes up for too much attention and gets in the way of what I’m trying to say – like driving a car and consciously having to think about which gear I’m in.

However, for writers who can’t make up their minds which font to use – for fear it might convey the wrong message – there is a phenomenon called Continue reading