Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Giving the Mind Some Breathing Room

Blank pages can be daunting.

I love to write, but there are times where nothing comes out right.

Depending on the day, I may keep my head down and push through, throwing elbows in the faces of distractions. Sure, sometimes the result of this is akin to that of a kid smashing her hands into the keyboard. But letters get on the page. And sometimes, in rare moments of kismet, they form words!

Sometimes, though, I need to amp up the ol’ creative energies before I can take on the great white beast. There are a few tried and true activities that I fall back on when I need to give my brain a little more running room.

  1. Art
I’m a big fan of making artsy things on canvases. Sometimes I use them as big scrapbooking pages that get hung on the wall. Other times I try to actually paint something more complicated than the turkey handprints I used to do. Now, I’m not a great painter, but for me that’s kind of the point. It takes a lot of focus for me to make something that’s not macaroni art. So much so that I can’t focus on both the canvas and the story.

  1. Movie Game
From time to time, when I need to distract the old brain pan, I ask the Roomie to give me the names of two actors who have never been in a movie together. Once I am so armed, I must connect those two individuals using an ACTOR A was in MOVIE 1 with ACTOR H who was in MOVIE 2 with ACTOR B formula. Depending on the randomness of the main two actors, this can go on for awhile. It’s not necessary that I discover the shortest possible route between the two, just that I manage to connect them without looking anything up or using a movie or actor that I can’t quite remember the name of (No “you know, the guy who looks like that other one, but isn’t, but was in the movie with that girl,” allowed).

  1. Casting Call
Roomie and I are musical geeks. As such, we have whiled away many the moments by casting entire productions using our friends. A lot of discussion goes into who is going to play which character. Sometimes we go for the obvious choices, other times we cast against type. Regardless, it always prompts me to think about friends I’ve known for years from a new perspective. And has led to some Voila! moments when I’ve found new ways to view my characters.

Each of these activities forces me to give them the bulk of my attention and energy, but a tiny part of my creative mind always manages to sneak off. She army crawls into the darkness, breathes a sigh of relief, says “Finally. I can’t get anything done while she’s hovering over me,” takes out a large broadsword and starts hacking away at the Gordion knot that is my story. And then when I’m all done with whatever nonsense I’ve been focusing on, she sits back smugly and says, “I fixed your problem. Boomsa.”

So, what do the rest of you do when you need to get out of your mind’s way?

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