When I write, I usually have a good time with it. My keyboard goes klickety-klack and the words come out ok. Usually. But not all the time.
Sometimes the words don’t come at all and I get ‘knotted up.’ I’m worked up so tight that there’s no other way out than to let it go. I’ve got to create something, a gift for someone, one person only, that will break the constriction that’s all around me.
My gifts are stories I tell my daughter. We actually collaborate on them. I’ll start with a character and a scenario to get the ball rolling. As things progress, she’ll interject bits into the story, and we’ll pass it back and forth as it grows into something fantastic and wonderful.
When we do that, it completely unblocks me because I let go and play. It becomes a stream of consciousness thing. Whatever comes to mind becomes part of the story. If I think of a purple crocodile with tentacles for teeth, then that’s part of the story, and we run with it. We can make up whatever comes to our minds. We can be completely random. We can be as free as we want to be.
And it’s not just about overcoming writer’s block. It’s about overcoming general ‘burnout,’ too. Sometimes the work is grinding. It becomes too much to bear, and you have to find a way to get out from under it. Playing at writing helps me to see the fun in the work all over again.
Making the creation singularly about her is important, too. She is my entire audience. I love seeing her reaction to all my character creations and plot twists, and then how she responds with her own plot points. Having her as the recipient of the story is what makes it a ‘gift.’
In all honesty, our stories aren’t that good, but that part doesn’t matter. We have fun making them, and they work like ‘magic’ for me. So if you ever get ‘stuck’ in your craft, or you feel worn out by the work, make gifts. Create something for one person specifically and give it away. That just might help.
Full disclosure: The idea of giving gifts was ‘stolen’ from Austin Kleon’s new book ‘Keep Going‘