I woke up this morning to eight inches of snow on the ground. Normally as a kid I would get excited about the prospect of a snow day, but I’m an adult now. I had to go to work, like it or not. No matter how miserable the commute might be, I had to go. I was scheduled to be in online training today, too, so being late was not an option. The instructor was in Philadelphia, which wasn’t having trouble with snow.
And so I went, and then spend eight hours in a small, stuffy room watching someone present stuff I barely understood. Fortunately, being online, no one could see me pace the room in order to stay awake. I’ve got three more days of this.
The roads were better on the way home, but still not great. And when I got home I found a great deal of shoveling waiting for me. The snow plows had come through and blocked most of my driveway and in front of the mailbox. The postman gets grouchy when he can’t drive up to my mailbox. I’ve got Christmas orders coming, so we don’t want to risk making the mailman grouchy. And so I shoveled snow for about an hour.
And now I’m trying to write a post for Think Tank. Nothing is coming. My brain won’t think. The obvious thing would be to make some sort of analogy of heavy snows and writing, but…I’ve got nothing. I just stare at the wall and try to force my brain to think. But tonight that’s like pushing a rope.
There are two schools of thought on writing when you just can’t write. One says “write anyway, even if you end up throwing it all away and starting over tomorrow.” The other says “go and do something that will rejuvenate your mind and soul so you’ll be ready to write tomorrow.
Which is right? That really does depend. Are you on deadline? If so, you’d better just get in there and write, and hope you don’t have to throw away everything you write. Just like with my class today, sometimes you just have to put on your big-kid pants and do what’s got to be done.
But otherwise, you may be better off doing something different to stimulate your brain and/or reduce the fatigue in your body. Do something different for half an hour. And then come back and write. If you have something you can do for a short period of time that serves as a “mental palate-cleanser”, then do it! Reset your busy, tired brain for a while, then get back in there and write something, even if it’s only a few paragraphs.
Or a Think Tank post that puts people to sleep.
Michaelbrent Collings, horror writer and occasional Think Tank Facebook luminary, says it’s perfectly okay to deal with writer’s block by going to a movie, reading a book, or listening to music. It puts something new in the brain, helps refill the “creativity tank”, and can still be considered “writing.”
So am I really telling you it’s okay to not write? I suppose so. It’s now the next morning and I discarded the last several paragraphs that I wrote last night as incoherent rambling. My brain had already shut down, in spite of my best efforts to make it keep writing. Something it’s better to use that time for something that will help get the next day off to a good start.
So write! But if you can’t, do something that will help you get through whatever it is that’s making it so hard to write!