“There’s a fog upon LA,
And my friends have lost their way…”
‘Blue Jay Way’ – Words and music by George Harrison
We had a foggy morning in Los Angeles today. Not smog. Fog. Real dewy, low laying clouds. LA gets a bad rap for its air quality, but things have improved in the last thirty years. Now when you can’t see beyond several yards, it’s a force of nature until the winds change and the sun burns through the mist.
If you’re a writer, you’re constantly dealing with the fog when you’re in the midst of writing a book, article, or blog. Nothing makes you want to bang your head against the desk more than handling the mist of nothingness clouding your once crystal clear vision.
But the problem with our own personal fog, is that we tend to create it ourselves. I’m super guilty of blaming my brain for the brick wall of futility holding back those pearls of awesome dripping from my imagination onto the keyboard on a particular day (or a succession of days – even weeks). That blame game can be the root of one’s futility. We put it there by saying, “I can’t write because I’m not a good writer,” or “Why bother when nobody is going to read or publish it anyway,” or “I have nothing to write about.” Nothing can be further from the truth. Really. Drop kick those beliefs down the street into manhole.
It’s alright to go easy on ourselves and take a break from the daily grind of writing to fill up our shoe with some living. Sometimes we do run aground in creating those pearls of story from our brains. We’ve used up our well of ideas, and now it’s time to fill up our empty imagination with books, museums, movies, music, or just hanging with your friends and chill. Yet, when we have done all this, and blank brain prevails, you have to push through by ignoring the fog and letting your fingers do the work. Just say, screw it and blah blah blah your monitor screen until you get a thought.
I do it all the time. I’m not perfect. There’s self doubt, laziness, too many projects at work that sap my brain energy from focusing on the thing I love the most – writing and working on the foundation of my consulting business where I want to help others writers write. Nevertheless, I cannot succumb. I can take a break, but I have to keep my eyes on that glorious goal.
Don’t fall for the “nope, not feeling it” thing for too long. Remember, not feeling it is just part of the process. There will be days when you don’t really have the flow to produce useable work. There are productive days and crap days. On the crap days, show up anyway. Screw the resistance that tries to put you in a place of frustration. Put down about 500 words of nothing until you start writing about the cup of coffee you had this morning, or how the chatty coffee clan who sit in front of the Coffee Bean everyday were noisy, or how they ignored your dog. Then suddenly, you’ve taken “a nothing day, and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile.” (I’ve been watching a lot of Mary Tyler Moore reruns). It will not only open up the fog, allowing you to see the light on where you need to go on your book, but it might be the germ of story you can write months from now, when the sky in your head is clear and bright.
But like the weather. Understand the clouds. Be the wind and the barometric pressure. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just try to allow positive thoughts to flow like cool, clear high pressure fronts. Even if you can’t do this, try to rise above negative or heavy thoughts and sit down to write. Write anything. Sometimes putting down 500 words of crappy thoughts will flourish into something awesome.