Up a Tree?
Do you ever feel like you’re up a tree when you’re writing? Your protagonist has backed himself into a corner and you can’t get him out? Your hero’s witty sidekick has fallen silent and you can’t think of anything clever for her to say? Your villain has grown tired and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t coax him into concocting even one more diabolical scheme?
Then there’s only one solution: get down out of the tree!
That’s right. Sitting there staring at the sky (or your computer screen) is not helping, so give it up. Get down out of that tree and away from your computer or writing pad and do something different for a while. Whether it’s for fifteen minutes or a day, sometimes a change of scenery and tackling a different activity are all you need to get those creative juices flowing again.
Here are a few suggestions:
Take the dog for a walk.
Practice Tai Chi or some other form of exercise.
Clean out a closet, cabinet, or drawer.
Call your mother/son/friend and chat for a bit.
Go outside with a sketchpad and draw a picture.
Go for a stroll with your camera and take some photographs.
Peruse the nearest bookstore or library.
Head for the coffee shop with your favorite magazine and have fun looking at pictures.
Knit or crochet while watching an old movie.
Bake some cookies.
Pick some flowers and make a pretty flower arrangement.
File those recipes that have been building up on the kitchen counter.
Go shopping to buy holiday or birthday gifts for someone you love.
Grab a trash bag and pick up litter in your neighborhood or at a park or beach.
Water, trim, and fertilize your plants.
Cut the grass.
Weed the garden.
Clear out the attic, garage, or basement.
Go for a bicycle or motorcycle ride.
Paint the porch railing.
Write a thank-you note or a letter to someone you appreciate and then mail it.
Take your children or grandchildren to the playground and push them on the swings.
And if all these ideas and whatever others you can come up with seem overwhelming, then take a nap. Either way, your conscious mind will get a rest from grappling with your immediate writing problem and give your subconscious mind time to work on it. The idea is to relax (your mind, at least) and do something fun, creative in a different medium, and/or rewardingly productive in a different area of your life. Such activities are beneficial in and of themselves even if they don’t solve your writer’s block issue, but the even better news is that they often do.
So take a break, and then climb that tree again and get back to work chewing leaves or thickening the plot or whatever it was you were doing up there in the first place. Let no tree go wasted!