“There’s no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges,” – Ernest Hemingway
To many writers, Ernst Hemingway is an idol, the ‘ultimate writer’. He is undoubtedly a legend. The legend once said, an unhappy childhood was the best early training for a writer. Malicious gossip has it that Hemingway wrote his best work while unhappy and drunk.
Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, was said to be notoriously depressive, and drew on his creativity from the deepest abyss of his sadness.
There are so many amazing authors, and each one of them is driven by a different motivation. But what if motivation is resting and creativity hiding? How can the sleeping muse be awoken?
Numerous ways to find motivation:
- coffee or tea
- rain storms
- read a good book
- listen to stories
- a nice dinner
- wonderful dreams
- the desire to create a world/story/fairy tale
- long walks
- peace and silence
- spending time outside (on the beach or in the woods)
- calm backyard in the shade
This is only a small number of possibilities. After all, there are so many more – too many to count.
But what if an author can’t find it? What if the muse is on vacation, creativity asleep and motivation in a coma? What if writer’s block has kicked in?
The American Author, Joyce Carol Cates, said: “I don’t think that writer’s block exists really. I think that, when you’re trying to do something prematurely, it just won’t come. Certain subjects just need time… You’re got to wait before you write about them.”
Erica Jong states: “All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged.” And Norma Mailer informs: “Writer’s block is only a failure of the ego.”
These are famous authors who tell you what might cause it, but how do we end it? Hilary Mantel advises: “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, bot to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise, whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
But who is right? The ones telling us that writer’s block doesn’t exist, or those who believe it can be overcome? Does it matter? What authors want, is to write – having or not having writer’s block or ‘just being stuck’ is not a question that needs to be asked.
So how can we kiss the muse awake again?
Many famous writers have discussed the benefits of working and writing in piece and silence. Their advice is to get your own room and be able, and willing, to close the door.
Some writers work with background music, others write around their cats or with their dog, sleeping on their feet. I figure there are as many writing preferences as writers exist.
I personally love to write in the backyard, by the pool. I don’t mind hearing street workers, tree saws, or sirens in the distance. Dogs barking or a kid screaming or laughing is fine with me. When I’m in my story, I am too focused to really hear these sounds.
When I worked on a romantic short story a while back, I tried to write within a romantic and unusual environment, and found a spot near a waterfall. I love waterfalls – normally. That day I was delighted – for about 25 minutes. After that, I was bothered by the sound. The permanent flow of water made me nervous and fidgety, and I had to repeatedly interrupt the flow of the story to go to the bathroom. No need to say I didn’t write anything useful that day.
If you find the perfect place and surroundings in which to write, I personally recommend that you stay with it. Decorate away – create a space you can feel comfortable. Nobody else will be there. Make it yours. Wake your motivation by doing something that builds the perfect situation to make your inspiration flow.
If this means the room needs to look like an Arabian Harem or an Abbey cell, so be it. Rumors are that Barbara Cartland spoke her books on Dictaphone, within the silk and tulle of her Barbie pink bedroom.
I have to admit, writing romance within a romantic surrounding is one thing, but building a room that rots my teeth (sickly sweet) would be taking it a little too far. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t suit another writer. As the saying goes, ‘To each his own’.
To end this article, I’d like to quote one more famous and excellent writer:
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” – Stephen King