How Do You Avoid The Moment of Facing the Page?

Do you approach every writing session with hope, joy and expectation, eager to get to work? 

If so, could you please share some of what you’ve got with me and the rest of the world.  Like the famous When Harry Met Sally Meg Ryan scene in which the old woman in the restaurant watches her fake an orgasm and says, "I’ll have what she’s having," I want some ease when it comes to facing the page.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot for several reasons.  One is that since finishing the assignment that took all my time last week, I’ve actually had time to write.  Well, if I hadn’t had social events all weekend I would have had time to write.  And yet, now that I actually have time to work on my own projects, I’m finding it hard to face the blank computer screen.

Second, I’ve been reading the new Julia Cameron book, The Writing Diet: Writing Yourself Right-Sized. It is Cameron’s contention that people sometimes eat to tamp down their creative energy.   In running Artist’s Way groups, she would notice that people would naturally drop pounds over the course of the class, and so she decided to adapt her creativity exercises for dieters.  (The good news for the other slacker writers in the world being that these are for the most part exercises you will do on paper, not with your body.)

So here’s my list of things I do to avoid facing the page:

Eat.  Or at least think about eating.  Get up, look in the refrigerator, ponder the contents of the cupboard, decide I need to figure out what’s for dinner, and so on.

Check email.  This is the worst one for me.  Here’s how it goes:  I pause to think and take a break, then click on my email.  If that’s all I did, it would be fine.  But no, if someone has actually written me, then of course I have to open the message and see what they wrote.  And then of course I also have to write back.  I’m convinced we lose more in productivity to email than any other cause.  I now close down all of my inboxes (I have three I check regularly) when I’m writing so I’m not tempted by them.

Smoking.  I don’t do this anymore, thank God, but I do know that it is a great time waster, especially since in most places one must go outside to smoke.  There are people who live in this very same house with me who often sashay outside to smoke in order to avoid other projects.  Not being judgmental, just sayin’.  And I know when I used to smoke that I’d often stop and light a cigarette if I got stuck.

Cleaning.  This is something I should do more of, but not when I’m supposed to be writing.  I always say if my house is clean, you know I’m temporarily blocked on my writing.  If its a mess, the writing is going well.

Wander.  As in, getting up and roving aimlessly about the house.  This can actually also have the reverse effect, which is to encourage your brain to come up with the answer it has been seeking, so it is not all bad.

And now I must go check my email. 

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