It’s February already! When did that happen?
I’m not, it grieves me to say, as shocked at my losing track of time as I’d like to be. My brain, I’m convinced, has turned in to blancmange this year. This fact too isn’t entirely unexpected. As if 2 toddlertastic years of sleep deprivation and one solid snotty month of coughs and colds wasn’t enough to addle my brain on their own, my poor old cerebrum is also dealing with being well and truly pickled by the flood of hormones that come with late pregnancy. For those you who have never had the pleasure, believe me, ‘baby brain’ is a very real thing!
Time keeping isn’t the only thing this perfect storm of hormones and exhaustion is effecting either. Creativity is taking a pretty big hit too.
The book has stalled. In fact, aside from my virtually daily haiku’s on Twitter, all writing has stalled. It is as if my body has diverted all creative juices towards creating the little person in my belly and left nothing for any other creative pursuit!
Not only does this create no small amount of inner conflict, I want to write and draw and sculpt, but also imbues a hefty dose of guilt. I should be writing. The great and the good of the fiction writing world tell us repeatedly that there is no such thing as writer’s block and therefore no excuse for not showing up and churning out pages on a daily basis. So does that mean I’m just not trying hard enough or being self-indulgent?
It is a good thing at least that as far as my editing, proof reading and design work goes I am on maternity leave but somehow I can’t take leave from creativity, it’s too much part of me. It would be like saying I would like to take a break from my eye colour or height! I am more likely to take leave of my senses than of being a creative person.
All of which leaves me with a quandary: I want to be creative, but whenever I try I can’t produce anything (save for the odd, quick 17 syllable poem for social media). What do I do?
There is, of course, a lot of advice out there for over coming writer’s block – much of it very good. Tricks I usually use when the muse is sulking and the procrastination gremlins start getting rowdy are:
• Going for a walk
• Trying a different venue (aka going to a coffee shop or, if already in a coffee shop, going to a different coffee shop! Don’t judge me)
• Having a cup of coffee (now you can see why all the coffee shops are such a good idea!)
• Doing some exercise, usually yoga or Pilates… unless I’m in a coffee shop in which case a quick stretch and a short trot to get paper napkins has to suffice!
• Listening to music
• Reading a book
• Doing some chores (for me, if I’m at home, this is normally the washing up which I do whilst listening to music and quite often dancing round the kitchen, giving me the trifecta of block-busting techniques as well as a slightly cleaner house)
• Play (This often involves getting creative with paint or clay, sometimes messing about on the piano and once or twice playing with my little ones dollhouse or MegaBloks table – I’d love to tell you she was there when I did this but I’d be lying!)
Of course as I am currently the size of an airship and full of prenatal hormones that have given my ligaments the consistency of well chewed gum (making walking, sitting, bending or lying down painful) and unable to drink coffee as, not only must I avoid caffeine, but it gives me indigestion, most of my usual tricks are off limits. Even washing up is tricky as there is too much bump between me and the sink!
Of those that are left I have tried listening to music and of course reading. Though both of these things do engage the brain somewhat they also have started making me very sleepy which sort of defeats the point.
There is, of course, one last weapon in my, and indeed every writer’s, arsenal against the dreaded block. It is the only option really left to me and it is the hardest one to employ.
So that’s what I do. I show up and I write stuff, I start with the book and when that becomes too much I try poems, short stories, blog posts, free writing and haikus to post on Twitter.
Does it make me feel better? No. Does it move things on? I doubt it. Does it at least mean I’m not giving up? Yes. So that is what I’m going to settle for right now, being like Dory in ‘Finding Nemo’ and “just keep swimming”