Sunday, June 5, 2011

PEP Rally: Ideas for When You're Stuck


The productivity activity this week might seem pretty rudimentary, but trust me, it’s not as easy as you might think. A few weeks ago, in my first PEP post, I talked about keeping a time diary to see where you are wasting time doing other things that could be spend writing. I suggest you take a day or several days to try that out first, but you don’t really have to if you’ve got plenty of time on your hands. Once you see where you are free, take a sharpie and block out an hour or two, more if you’re lucky, where you pledge to do nothing but focus on your work. Create a fake contract with your old Crayolas, sign it, and tack it up on the wall for you to see every time you think about opening just one more game of solitaire.

This may sound a lot like a recipe for how  to stare at a blank white page and tear out your hair in frustration, but it doesn’t have to be! Notice I didn’t say time where you do nothing but write. Lean back in your chair and have a conversation with your characters. Think about your setting and marinade on minute details that won’t make it into the actual narrative, but are important to you. Some people make writing out to be this incredibly arduous process that chains you to your computer and turns you into a drone. Surprise, it’s not!

You get to create entire beings from scratch, build worlds from the ground up. Who else can say that? Writing should never be something you have to do. This is what you want to do! The reason you sit down to write should be because you’re excited to delve into the universe within your pages. That contract you signed isn’t really a contract to add to your word count. It’s a contract to fall in love with your writing again because when you love something you can’t stay away from it - i.e. me and chocolate. And if you can’t keep yourself from writing, you’re going to be doing a ton of work!


There are a lot more aspects to you other than your writing.  We’re all pretty flowers who need to be tended to once in a while. So for this week’s ego activity, get away from your writing and do something else that you enjoy. Yes this sounds a little counter-productive, especially after I just said cut out time spent on frivolous things and focus on your work. But I never claimed that you had to do all of these things! These posts are for everybody from the beginning writer to the published author lurking out there looking for something new to try. Take a bike ride, see a play, bake muffins - something that makes you smile. You can’t honestly sit down in a bad mood and expect quality work to flow out on the page.


I’m going to commit the most almighty sin against the unwritten rules of this website and tell you, if you haven’t already, to get a tumblr ( It is the ultimate way to waste time. But at the same time, it is a great resource to find inspiration. Sure most of it is kittens and cakes and things about Doctor Who, but there are so many blogs that post gorgeous pictures and thoughtful quotes. It’s a wonderful way to just calm down and space out. If you’ve already got a blog, follow a few more people to find new inspiration on your dash - or puppies, inspiration and puppies are pretty interchangeable. 

Today's  post is brought to you by our very special guest blogger, Sam Spellman. Sam is currently an undergraduate at Beloit College and hopes to obtain a degree in Creative Writing, with a possible double major in Psychology. When not tackling school, Sam spends time with her friends and Kappa Delta sisters or re-mastering old school Mario Video games. She works in the technical services department of Beloit’s library

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