Writer’s block? Do you have little tricks to stay at the computer and focus on writing? Some people light candles and won’t blow them out until they’ve written 2,000 words. This method does not work for me. I forget to blow out the candle and don’t remember until after leaving the house for an errand. Also, I’ve read many articles on writer’s block that suggest that you sit down and just write, don’t bother thinking about it, just write. This suggestion reminds of the scene in The Shining where scary Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) sits in that big hotel on a snowy mountain typing page after page after page of All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
There are times when a writer just can’t find the words to tell a story. The blackboard is blank, the mind shuts down, the fingers are sick and tired of traipsing across the keyboard. It’s frustrating and maddening, downright Sybil-to-the-tenth-personality. At this point, you just gotta change course.
Writing can be compared to slicing open a melon, and then scraping everything out right down to the green rind. It’s difficult and energy draining. Writers are extremely self-critical by nature, because we analyze our characters, and we learn every good and bad trait about them, extremely exhausting. After all, there’s nothing about our characters that doesn’t come directly out of us, is there?
I believe writer’s block is a tiredness that saturates every muscle and cuts into to the marrow of every bone in our bodies. For survival’s sake, we need to swim to the surface and take in a great big breath of normal life that oftentimes gets neglected. By doing this, we might shun our craft for a few days, a week or whatever, and feel extremely vulnerable when an enormous sense of guilt washes over us about abandoning characters mid-sentence, halfway through a plot, or suspended in a pivotal scene.
Call it a vacation from our work, call it lazy, call it whatever you want to call it, but I feel these spaces of not working are important to embrace and make the most of it by doing something totally not connected to writing.
When I get into one of my writing despairs, I find comfort in going back to the basics, and my way of doing this is to make dough, not the kind you spend, but the kind that makes bread.
I love making my own pizzas, and I have a great pizza dough recipe that can ready to use in less than an hour. There is something very healing about taking a tablespoon of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar, then adding it to a ¼ cup of warm water. Within a few minutes it bubbles and gains volume and the smell is like, well, yeasty. It gives me a sense of grounding and balance.
Here is my pizza dough recipe. Enjoy.
2 to 2-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 T yeast
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup very warm water (120 deg. To 130 deg.)
1 T olive oil
1 T honey
In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour; the yeast and salt. In 1-cup measuring cup, combine water, oil and honey; stir into flour mixture until soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead dough, adding some of remaining flour, if necessary, until dough is very elastic – 10 – 15 minutes ( Note: I just use my dough hook – 10 minutes). Dough should be ready to put into bowl – so easy).
Wash, dry, and lightly oil mixing bowl. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning to bring oiled side up. Cover with clean cloth; let dough rise in warm place, away from drafts, until double in size – 30 to 45 minutes. Shape and bake following whatever recipe you are following.
Note: I make a thin-crust pizza, so I only use half the dough. The remainder of the dough can be put into the fridge for a few days. I usually make bread sticks from the remainder dough. So yummy.
Be creative with the toppings. On this pizza, I topped the sauce with sliced green peppers and chopped ripe olives, along with thin slices of pepperoni.
Sherry Hartzler is the author of Three Moons Over Sedona, Island Passage and Chasing Joe, all available on Amazon.com