BEATING THE BLAHS

On a cold, gray, cold-oatmeal kind of day, my brain feels like…well, like cold oatmeal. How is a writer supposed to work when her creative engine generates less electricity than yesterday’s soggy coffee grounds?

Here are my tips to jump-start the writing process on a rainy winter day:

Turn on all the lights. I am always more productive on sunshiny days. No sunshine today? I improvise the best I can.

Bump up the thermostat. When I am cold, my body and my brain shift into hibernation mode, insisting I should do nothing but eat and sleep. The hibernation instinct grows noticeably stronger when the view outside my window looks like perpetual twilight. I can’t do anything about the low, dark clouds, but I can do something about the temperature in my work space. That’s why we have central heat & air, folks.

Listen to music. I normally don’t listen to music when I am trying to write. I am an “active listener” – in my world, there is no such thing as background music, so music is typically distracting. However, on days like today when my brain isn’t working anyway, music jars me out of neutral. I pick fun, bouncy tunes that I have to actively listen against, instead of music that is easily tuned out. This forces me to concentrate harder.

Do something physical. Speaking of music, a Charlie Puth tune just came on, so excuse me while I step away from the computer for a private dance break. – – – – – – Okay, I’m back now. Worried the UPS man might pull up while you’re getting down with Bruno Mars or Luke Bryant? Pull the blinds. Pop out twenty jumping jacks. Do a few minutes of yoga. MOVE.

Try your hand at something completely different. You’ve been staring at blank page 117 of your manuscript for thirty minutes. Just stop it, okay? STOP IT. Take a break and compose a limerick instead.

A writer of form Christian fiction

Once told me with exquisite diction:

“No sex and no swearing,

No booze, no skin baring!”

She prefers murder conviction.

Okay, that was pretty bad. But now, I am seriously motivated to get back to work on that manuscript.

If you can’t write, read. Reading lots of books is an essential discipline for becoming a better writer. Gray days are perfect for curling up on the couch with a good book. Doug Wilson, in Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life, says to “Read until your brain creaks.” Read. It’s good use of your time.

Eat, drink, and be merry. Sometimes, I need to feed the hunger side of that hibernation monster, diet or no. Tea and toast, milk and cookies, peanut butter and a banana, wine and cheese…guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist in my food pairings.

Take a nap. And sometimes, I need to indulge that hibernation monster with a few Zzzzzz-s. Power down, power up, and my brain is back online and ready to work.

This has been fun, but I need to get back to work now. How do you jump-start your writing?

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