I used to love flying kites with my kids when they were little. Just yesterday, as I tackled a challenging writing assignment (is there any other kind?), I experienced the exact same feelings of kite-flying.
My mind flashed back ten years to playing at the park. First came the weak, failed attempts of trying to get it airborne; the running and throwing, the frustration, the phrases of “this sucks!” or even worse “this will never work.” Then unexpectedly, gloriously, the kids and I got to see the kite finally catch the right combination of wind current and momentum and take off, with no more effort required on my part. I hung on and watched the kids’ cute SpongeBob kite appear to literally dance on air. Then came the inevitable and sad ending. Whether caused by me reeling the kite in because it was time to go or by the wind calling it quits, SpongeBob would crash to the ground with an abrupt thud.
My writing experience is similar: the grinding attempts to gain lift-off. Then, when I least expect it, the story takes me on a glorious ride where I feel like I’m dancing with the wind… then a phone call that I HAVE to take or an appointment I HAVE to attend brings me down with a crash. To be continued in the exact same cycle the next time I get a block of writing time…
I write mostly about two subjects, horses and athletes, and sometimes I wonder if it’s all been said. That kind of thinking is what keeps me from getting that desired air time. I often need to trick myself to get back in the writing groove. I have been writing on a regular basis for twenty years, so I have learned to hide a few favorite tricks up my sleeve:
1 – COMPETE AGAINST SECRET RIVALS
I have certain self-appointed rivals. Although they never physically taunt me, when I see a new story from one of them on the same website as my past stories, it’s a visual kick in the butt to get something new on the screen myself.
2 – PASS YOUR EMOTIONS ON TO YOUR READERS
I look forward to the tears. Comedian Craig Ferguson often says “I made myself laugh, and that’s half the battle.” My favorite writers will make me cry, and every time I write I attempt to be one of my favorite writers. Regardless whether they are happy or sad tears, if my paragraph or phrase touches me deeply, hopefully it will touch someone else also.
3 – GO TO YOUR WRITER’S HAPPY PLACE – WHERE THE WORDS FLOW!
I anticipate the air time; knowing that, like a kite, if I put in enough grunt work soon I will be flying high in that happy place where the words flow and I am at one with the writing world. There is no better feeling.
4 – VISUALIZE A FULL PAGE AND A FINAL WORD COUNT
This is borrowed from Tiger Woods in his glory days: “I visualize the putt going into the hole,” or rather the final word tally being posted. This equals instant euphoria.
5 – HAVE A WRITING “TRAINER,” AND RETURN THE FAVOR!
I have an awesome writing friend. We are not usually airborne at the same time, so we are each other’s personal “am writing” trainer.
6 – SEARCH FOR #BUTTINCHAIR TO GET THOUGHTFUL INSPIRATION FROM OTHER WRITERS
If the mind games don’t work, I go on Twitter to search the hashtag phrase made popular by the great Anne Lamott – #buttinchair – and get inspiration from other struggling writers to just do it.
Yesterday, I was reminded that, despite the grind at the beginning and the crash back to earth when it’s all over, whatever amount of time we as writers can spend in that effortless flight where time stands still makes it all worth it.
That’s why we write.
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Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various outlets including Faith & Friends magazine, Sports Spectrum and ofhorse.com. She and her husband’s favorite activity is being included in whatever their four adult children have going on. Check her out at:
That is a great visual! And I like the ideas to get your brain going. I would add that the one thing that gets me going is just to put something — ANYTHING — down on paper, no matter how stupid it sounds…then keep on writing. I nearly always have to delete the entire first paragraph, but this does help me with liftoff.