Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Forget About It and Carry On With the Writing (Or, The Only Way Out is Through)

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.


Elvira, not me

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. 


Elizabeth Zimmerman

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.

And don't forget my Valentine's Day giveaway!  There's still a few more days to enter.  Read my post on it and leave a comment, that's all you have to do.

Elizbeth Zimmerman photograph from the Simon and Shuster website.

Elivira photo from Halloween Magazine.

0 thoughts on “Forget About It and Carry On With the Writing (Or, The Only Way Out is Through)

  1. Patrick Ross

    Let me begin by saying that as a child of the 70s and 80s, It is a high compliment to be compared to Elvira!

    Impressive tie-in to writing, I must say. And enjoy the new you. In the last 18 months my daughter’s naturally blonde hair has been purple, then crimson, then blue, then black, then bright red, then orange. (Yes, I make her wait every six weeks or more to change.) Now it’s mostly blonde again; she’s experimenting now with extreme cuts (before this started it was 2/3 of the way down her back). Make sure you take some pictures before you change it again, though; I didn’t document every one of her looks, and wish I had.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    Patrick, I’ve mentioned Elvira to several people with blank stares as a response, so I’m glad that you remember her! (She’s actually still alive and kicking and doing quite well, apparently). And I love the story about your daughter’s hair. When my son was in middle school he was forever getting me to dye his hair. I think he had it blue and purple and green. Maybe I shoujld try one of those colors next time. 🙂

  3. Carole Jane Treggett

    Oh Charlotte, I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of hair disappointments and/or disasters. Lemme just say I’m glad to know another woman who dyes at home; most of the women I know ITL(in tangible life)pay tons of moolah to get it done at the salon. I’m frugal too and like keeping things nice and easy in the hair colour department:)

    I’ve found #6 to help me when I’m stuck or unsure, rather than staying there trying to force the issue. Still smiling how you turned this experience into one great writing lesson. It’s so important for us to keep carrying on (and accepting the direction the imposed change takes us in our lives and our creative work).

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    Carole Jane, hello, my sister in home hair dying! I used to spend money on a salon color, but geez, who can afford that every six weeks? Especially since I discovered I can do it very well, thank you, my self. So I’m totally with you on that one. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe some people we know who shall remain nameless used #6 to help them out of a creative funk today, right?

  5. J.D.

    Meet the new Charlotte Dixon! Wow, a makeover; what a great way to wake up your writer self. I know #1 is the commandment that absolutely must be obeyed, but #4 is the one I so enjoy: Do something you love for fifteen minutes.

  6. Sandra / Always Well Within


    I could feel you pain and shock! What a trooper you are. I like the tip about letting your subconscious work on your writing. I wouldn’t necessarily read it before bed but just let it simmer in the background. My key to getting through the tough times is knowing that everything is impermanent!

  7. Jane Rutherford

    Elvira’s hair is awesome. Just so you know 🙂 I bet you look great.

    I’m a big fan of no.7. I love brainstorming things with my writing buddies. They always put things in perspective.

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    Jane, the funny thing is that the reaction to my hair has been universally positive. And I’m starting to realize that I really like it! So the takeaway is that change is hard, period! And I agree, I love brainstorming with my writing group as well.

  9. Charlotte Dixon

    Sandra, I’ve been letting my novel simmer in the background of my mind these last few days as I’ve not had time to work on it. And its so much fun to have little thoughts bubble to the surface. I try to write them down pronto so I don’t forget and that adds to the process. And yes, thanks for the reminder that everything is impermanent!

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    You’re right, J.D., this makeover has awakened my writer self because it has forced me to relate to the world a bit differently. And that makes me feel like anything is possible, even publishing that novel of mine…..
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    Forget About It and Carry On With the Writing (Or, The Only Way Out is Through) – Charlotte Rains Dixon
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    Forget About It and Carry On With the Writing (Or, The Only Way Out is Through) – Charlotte Rains Dixon

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