07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cleaning Out Those Brain Cobwebs

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, months, where your head seems to be filled with cobwebs? I'm happy to say it doesn't happen to me too often but when it does it has a huge impact on my ability to write. It's the difference between gliding across the surface of the water like a skipped stone and swimming upstream three feet under water.

So how do I get rid of cobwebs, distractions, and blockages that are stopping me from writing? I have several techniques. Here are just a few. Maybe you can add to the list as well and together we can clean our "houses."

1. For the occasional "dust bunny" I walk away from the computer. I'll do the dishes, start the laundry, vacuum...any mundane chore that will keep me distracted. Notice none of these things are fun. After an hour of this stuff I can't wait to get back to my computer.

2. For a week-long attack of the cobwebs, I switch projects. I'll put away that novel and work on an article about something completely unrelated. I'll catch up on paperwork or do something else creative but not related to writing like make a photo book from last year's Christmas photos.

3. Clutter got you down? Get organized. When I find myself constantly being distracted by the "but firsts" as in but first I should do this or but first I should do that, I stop fighting it and go do all those things. When I return from a long trip away, I find I can't concentrate on writing until I answer all my e-mails, pay all the bills, do the laundry, open all the regular mail, and put everything in its place. When my life is back in order, so is my concentration and I can turn to more creative endeavors.

4. Sometimes, though, you can't possibly take care of every little thing before you begin writing or you'd never write another word!!! That is where my lists come in handy. When something pops into my head, instead of taking up space trying to remember to do something, I write it down. I have a daily to do list, a weekly to do list and a monthly list. If something doesn't get done on the day I had it scheduled, no worries. I move it over to the next day. Because hey, while I am a list freak, I do cut myself some slack. For those things that have hard and fast deadlines, I put them at the top of the day's list with a star.

5. When everything else fails to clear out those cobwebs, I give up! Not forever, of course, but for a night, a weekend, or even a month. After sending off my second book in my Hot PurSuits series to my editor, I gave myself permission to not immediately start on book number three until my edits came back from book two. I've spent my temporary retirement getting inspired by watching a few of my favorite romantic comedies, and actually reading for pleasure...what a treat. Refreshed and inspired, I'll be ready to get back to work once the edits from book two are done.

Hope this helps with any mental spring cleaning you need to accomplish. Have a tip on what you do to clear those cobwebs? Let us all know by leaving a comment.


Judith Ashley said...

Hi Christie,

When I'm struggling with my sluggish brain, I need a change of pace. I can go for a walk, clean house, read, watch something on t.v.. The key is to distract myself from the fact I've got those cobwebs. When I do that, they usually go away.

If they pop back up when I'm back at the task where they first appeared, I take a few days off. I look at those days as being a sign that something needs to perk a bit longer before it's ready to see the light of day.

I'm also a list maker and have reached the point in my life where I also cut myself some slack and just move the task to another day.

When all is 'right' (whatever that means) the ideas, the words do flow.

Sarah Raplee said...

Your post rang true for me! I think making lists gives me a sense of control over my sometimes overwhelming life. I enjoyed your post, Christie!

Paty Jager said...

Christie, I agree, Sometimes it's a good idea to put aside the thing that has you stuck do something else. If you aren't concentrating so hard sometimes the answer comes with out trying.