I dyed my hair this week. (Bear with me, we're getting to the part about writing.)
I dye my hair every six weeks or so. But usually I dye it blonde. I buy the lightest blonde dye I can find, just to give you an idea of my usual color. Extreme platinum blonde.
Lately, however, I've been hankering for a change. It is 2012, after all, and I'm feeling good–bursting with new ideas and a renewed vigor for the blog, and starting a new novel. Time for something new. And how better to express new creativity than to change my hair?
So I bought the box with the darkest hair color on it this time.
You can probably guess the outcome.
My hair was, um, black. Like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark black. I was in shock. Every time I looked in the mirror, I screamed. So I redyed it not once, but twice, trying to get it lighter. And now it is a couple shades lighter than Elvira with some chestnut highlights. A huge change.
But this experience turned out to be enlightening, because it reminded me of something: the only way out is through.
I couldn't stop my life because I hated my hair. I had classes to teach, meetings to attend, shocked faces to confront. I had to keep going. Or, as the doyenne of modern knitting, the late Elizabeth Zimmerman liked to say: Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.
We could amend that to say: Write on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.
And so I reminded myself that the only way out is through. And that, really, in the overall scheme of things, a bad hair dye job pales in comparison to the problems others are facing at the moment. As I started thinking about the necessity of carrying on, I realized that this applied to writing as well. So here are some handy-dandy ways to get through the bad times:
1. Keep writing. This is the best solution, but also the hardest if you're having a writing crises. But remember Elizabeth Zimmerman's words and carry on.
2. Take notes. Instead of actual writing, take notes on your writing. This can jar new nuggets out.
3. Read. Every writer should be an avid reader, or else why are you writing? Read either a book similar to what you're writing or a book on craft.
4. Take an intentional break. Do something you love for 15 minutes, such as read, walk, knit, leaf through a magazine. But make it intentional.
5. Read your pages before bed. Last thing before you go to sleep, read over what you've already written on what you're stuck on. Let your subconscious work its magic while you snooze.
6. Alter your state. Walk. Take a nap. Meditate. Go to the coffee shop. Change your activity to alter your state so you're not just sitting there moping because the writing isn't going well.
7. Talk to a writing friend. Don't try this with a civilian, who won't get it. But talk to a trusted writing friend, maybe she can help you figure out why you're stuck.
Oh, and by the way? Turns out the new dye job isn't so bad. Everywhere I go, people compliment me on it and their compliments seem genuine, not like they're trying to make me feel better. And I'm actually starting to like it. (Though I'm still surprised every time I look in the mirror.) So now I'm enjoying feeling fresh and different. Just like in the writing.
What about you? How do you get through writing blocks and obstacles? How do you carry on? Please leave a comment and let us know.
Create a successful, inspired writing life: Make a list of things that help you carry on through tough writing times so that you can refer to it and put one into play when you hit a snag.
Elizbeth Zimmerman photograph from the Simon and Shuster website.
Elivira photo from Halloween Magazine.