An audience member asked this yesterday at an Anoka County Library ” Mysterious Month of May” event. I think this audience member was a frustrated writer who might have been looking for suggestions about how to get her creative juices flowing.
Thankfully the other two panelists answered ahead of me, as I had no idea how to answer this question. I’d really never thought about ‘creative juices’ before, and initially what came to mind was a tropical fruit cocktail, spiked with tangy turns-of-phrases, a potion blocked writers drank to lubricate the writing process. The idea made me thirsty, but didn’t help me to formulate an answer.
So when it was my turn to say something, I stammered out something about writing prompts and deadlines. In other words, that it helped to have an ‘assignment’ and a ‘due date’, just like the good old days back in school, and my present-time day job, one that is filled to the brim with assignments and due dates. (I’m a proposal writer for a Fortune 25 company).
But now as I think about it, it usually takes nothing more than for me to start writing in order to get those juices flowing. Once I type a sentence, the creative pump is primed, and thoughts and ideas come to mind, and then to the computer screen.
I don’t think I’ve ever suffered from writer’s block, meaning that I’ve never run out of topics to write about — a blank screen doesn’t shut me down. I just need to basically get going, type a sentence (even nonsense), commit to writing at least a paragraph. Or maybe I’ll pull up a piece I’m working on, or an old piece that never quite came together, and just commit to working out the knotted clumps of prose that are doing nothing for the story.
That’s how I get started.
I just start.
How I keep it going is another topic: helps to have a supportive spouse, kids who are in their teens, blocks of time to concentrate on the work. The McKnight Fellowship has given me a boost of stamina that I’ve long needed to help keep those juices flowing; and as a result, I’m looking at my writing in an entirely different light now. But even with all of those positive factors in my life, I still have to basically sit down and get started, just like I always have.