Sometimes, you write on fire. The words smolder from your fingers as you work away.
Other times, you sit at your laptop, typewriter, or with your trusty pen and paper in hand. You start writing, then notice that you’ve got mail! So, you check your in-box, then remember that work project due next week, you worry about your family awhile, then you scrap your story idea all together and start something new.
That’s not your typical Writer’s Block, where you’re stuck on what to say.
No, this is a different kind of pain.
What’s the problem?
We have too many thoughts. They bounce off each other like a pinball machine on steroids. You can’t grab hold of anything solid to write.
What should my heroine do next? I need to get my car’s oil checked. Stop it. Focus on writing. I’m worried about Dad’s health. I need a quick snack. It’ll only take a sec.
From the moment we wake up, until we drop into bed at night,we’re bombarded with information all day long.
Voicemail! Texts! Emails! Facebook! Twitter! Pinterest! Instagram! Tumblr! SnapChat!
Not too mention the important news we read on MSN.COM, plus all our favorite blogs.
TV doesn’t help. Are you Keeping up with the Kardashians? A member of Duck Dynasty? Or, are you highbrow and watch Downton Abbey?
The assault continues in the car…music…commercials…talk radio.
Don’t forget, all the real-life interactions with people. Some of them, ARGUMENTS.
Oh, conflict can burden our brains, big time. We have jobs, volunteer commitments, family and friends.
This is modern life today.
We love it. We hate it. What are we to do?
Too Much Of A Good Thing Is Still Too Much
Disconnect.Don’t get me wrong. Technology is great. I love it. I’m thrilled to have found old friends on Facebook and am making new ones. The internet helps my writing tremendously. When I’m struggling to describe something, I Google it:
Photo – seedy motel. What does a decomposed body smell like? Who was President in 1887?
BAM! I have instant answers.
I’m not saying leave technology behind forever and go to a mountaintop in order to write. We all live in a place called Reality.
However, since there are so many things beyond our control, that we need to focus on what we can control. When you cannot write one single, clear thought, it’s time to do something different.
Info Overload Relief:
1. Less is More.
2. Drain Your Brain.
3. Walk Your Mind.
1. Less Is More
I really struggle with this one because I’m sort of addicted to email (I keep waiting for one of my dream agents to offer me literary representation!). Still, when I’m constantly interrupted, my mind feels scrambled.
Email is part of my work and texting is always the best way to communicate with my kids when they’re not home, but I don’t have to stay connected 24/7. I ALWAYS feel better when I cut down on technology time. It gives my mind space to create.
I’m not asking you to change your life.
I’m asking you to stop wasting it.
Try to scale back on ONE small form of technology that’s eating up your brain space.
Next time, you’re waiting for an appointment, or sitting in the school carpool line, don’t mindlessly scroll through Facebook on your telephone.
Close your eyes and breathe. Connect with yourself.
Look at the world around you. Life, beautiful life, is happening everywhere.
It’s worth the effort because when we give our minds space to think, we’re flooded with inspiration. Our creative muses feel more welcome to come out and play.
When we turn technology off, we turn creativity on.
2. Drain Your Brain
As you disconnect from technology, here’s something else you can do to clear your head.
Type your thoughts out onto the computer as fast as you can, but it’s even better to write them out by hand.
Write On Fire!
Because we’re disconnected from our bodies. We need to get our minds and our behinds back in the same place.
I need to stop the mail while we’re out of town. Bob from accounting made me so mad. I need to get my 1,000 words written today. Who sang that song on the radio earlier?
Losing the mental noise helps you refocus and to write.
3. Walk Your Mind
Walk around the block. Five minutes. Don’t change clothes, just go, and move at whatever pace suits you — stroll, walk, run.
Walking connects both the left and right sides of the brain. Many experts believe this helps with creativity and problem solving. Seriously, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau and Ernest Hemingway practiced this method. If it was good enough for them, then it should be good enough for you.
Notice your surroundings, especially the outdoors. Nature is a fantastic way to de-clutter your brain. Really SEE what’s happening in your world.
If weather or circumstances won’t permit you to go outside, take the stairs at your office, or apartment complex. Move your body to clear those cluttered thoughts.
This can take as little as 20 minutes, or an entire afternoon.
Only you know what’s best for you. Follow your intuition. Do what you need to do to get back to work because that’s what writers do.
Which tip can you relate to most for information overload? Can you think of others? Share your comments with me. Let’s talk.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
Getting distracted by the internet is a big one for me. And to think, when the husband wanted to buy a computer I wasn’t on board–way back when! Free writing my fiction and just writing to clear my head have always helped me. If I get my thoughts onto paper they seem to quit being on a never-ending loop in my mind I need to get back into this habit.
The internet can be a HORRIBLE distraction for me, too, April. It got even uglier when I was launching Mudpie Writing…I would take time out to read “one, quick”, then BAM! I’d wasted 30 minutes. Sometimes, I can see my procrastination for what it is — FEAR and get myself back to work. Other times, I can’t. However, you said something very important: HABIT. Writing like everything else positive or negative for us is a habit. Writing clears my thoughts, too, and that’s a GOOD habit. 🙂
I found that if I’m getting too distracted by incoming information it helps to shut it all down and pick up a pen and a piece of paper. Ideas do bounce around in my head (I love the pinball analogy) and by writing the ideas out on paper they slow down so I can actually see the idea flying around up there, grab a hold of it, then put it down on paper. Only after this process can I can go back and enter it into the computer with more clarity and focus.
Hey K.J.! I’m the same way. Putting pen to paper is very powerful and helps get my brain back into my body. Sometimes I have to make a laundry list of all my To Do’s before I can focus on my novel (or whatever I’m writing), but that’s okay. At least I’m doing SOMETHING to help clear my mind. Thanks for your comment!
Reading this post made me realize that writer’s block is not my problem lately, as I thought it was. I have plenty of great ideas. What’s tripping me up is information overload. And responsibility overload. And worry overload. Life is getting in the way of my writing and I’ve allowed it to do so. When you described mindlessly scrolling through Facebook during downtime, you described me. It is like a sedative, an escape from all the responsibilities and worries. You have inspired me! I’m going to disconnect from Facebook for a week and see how much I can accomplish. I’m going to start walking every day again (even if the weather is horrendous, as it can be around here!) I’m also going to meditate daily — something I’ve found useful in the past. It clears and refocuses my mind. However, if I don’t have 30 minutes to devote to it, I make that my excuse not to follow through. I’m going to try devoting only 5 or 10 minutes to meditation if that’s all I have on a given day, and more on the days that I have more time. Sharing this wonderful post!
Anita Grace Howard
The internet / social media are the biggest time sucks in
the universe. @.@ One of my writer friends actually told me he has an app on
his iPad that blocks the internet for an allotted amount of time so he can get
his writing in every day. I want to look into getting one of those for my
computer. 😉 Great post!
Marcy Mason McKay
OMG! The internet is the devil when we’re supposed to be in writing mode. That internet blocking app is brilliant! Will you please share it with us when you learn it’s name?
Anita Grace Howard
I will! I’ll try to track him down on FB or twitter.
Marcy Mason McKay
This may sound silly but it works for me. When I go to my writing room ( a spare room full of miscellany) I switch my wireless off. Downstairs my laptop is a time hog. Upstairs it is not on the internet. It is just like a … typewriter 🙂 At least until I get my words in and then occasionally I break the rule.
Marcy Mason McKay
That doesn’t sound silly at all, Toni. In fact, it’s GENIUS! I did it this morning and it worked beautifully. Thanks for the great tip. I’m delighted to have you @ Mudpie Writing and hope you’ll come back soon!
I also suffer from information overload and an unruly mind. I use an app for my computer called Freedom (by eighty percent solutions). You set it for your desired amount of time and it won’t let you on to the internet for that amount of time. The only way to circumvent this is to reboot. It helps. Now if I could only work on the unruly mind part.