I realise that these posts are starting to sound a bit the same, but there is a tedium to completing a larger body of writing which requires repetition. While the research and preparation phases have the fillip of consultation and an exchange of ideas – the actual gathering of those ideas onto the page requires a discipline for which there is no easy method.

Sometimes the drudgery of writing feels like dragging an oar through open water; or marching the grasslands of the Tundra; or embroidering the Bayou tapestry. Each  small step, stroke, stitch, and word makes a sentence, which makes a paragraph, which makes a page. You may be lucky enough to be able to dictate, but for most of us, the only one way out, is through.

That’s not to say there aren’t at least a few tricks to get your across the finish line. I like to view each page as a series of creative puzzles which require solving. I chunk them down into smaller goals – and then try to dream up the most elegant solution to each one. I call this, ‘thinking’.

Some people call it ‘praying for inspiration’, or ‘meditating’, and indeed a recent study (sited in an earlier post) shows that such meditation actually increases measurable intelligence (ie: exam results) by 5%. So, sure, hold the creative problem in your mind – and then let it go for 5 or 10 minutes and see what happens. I still call that, ‘thinking’

If your interested in a more active approach to your thinking, you might to go in ‘search’ of inspiration. For me, that means putting myself in the path of creativity – and flagging down the best looking vehicle.

Sometimes I look for inspiration in the fridge.  At least, I think that’s what I’m doing. What really happens is that I find myself absentmindedly looking food, and when I think, “What am I doing here?” It turns out I’m usually trying to solve a creative problem with dialogue or action.

Sometimes I look for inspiration in the shower… and I think there may even be some tests that show the negative ions created by the falling water do encourage creativity… but that’s probably to do with relaxation… or meditation… or ‘thinking’. Whatever. It worked for Archimedes.

Another place to look for inspiration is in such mindless tasks as cooking and cleaning. To do this as a search for inspiration – I consider the creative impasse I have reached, and then switch my brain into neutral while allowing my body to accomplish a completely random task such as a clean bath.

A walk can also allow fresh ideas to flow, but a word of advice, take your computer with you, or you’ll be cursing the ideas that get away.

If you’re really desperate, you can turn to the internet, but (you don’t really need me to tell you this) There Be Dragons.

Which ever method you choose – be assured we all need to practice the creative art of thinking, and the brain, like other muscles will become stronger and more capable with excercise. But sometimes (disturbingly often, really) I find the best way to solve my creative dilemmas,  is by hitting the keyboard (furiously, if necessary) and then cutting out all the bits that are truly terrible. I call this, ‘work’.

I find that ‘hitting the key-board’ leads to the same conclusion as thinking – but has the added bonus of being a creative process, rather than an imaginative one. If you’re ok with my surprisingly condescending tone you’ll have already worked out, the end result of actually writing your script is the achievement of goals, rather than ideas.

Most days this method is effective and I continue to move forwards, but some days (and yesterday was one,) are so horrible that I despair of ever having a good idea again. Yesterday I sat at the desk all day and absolutely nothing happened.  By 4 o’clock I was ready to start drinking.  I managed to put it off until 6pm… when in despair I pounded the keys and wrote one, constipated, paragraph of dialogue that was so disgusting I couldn’t even bare to reread it.

I cut it out this morning. I saved two (lovely) words around which I built a proper conversation.

Today I’ve managed to write three whole pages. But for the third time this script I’ve found myself reminding myself of the only advice I find to be worth a damn at this point.

“The only way  out is through.”

By real co-incidence, I found a twitter conversation which lead to this link, the subtitle of which is “The way of the wound: A spirituality of trauma and transformation”  It’s interesting to me in two parts:  Part one - my story is about trauma and transformation… and part two – I’m finding this script to be particularly traumatic to write… perhaps there will be a transformation.

In shuffling through all my research notes, I also found some e-mails from a year ago.  Given that it’s exactly a year ago, there is a very real possibility I was at the same crisis point during the 2010 Script Frenzy… it says:

“Worked myself into a fit of anxiety as reached midpoint at 100 pages and lost track of the point of the story. Rambling mess. So decided to rework it and cut down to 50 pages. Then got worst case of PMS ever, my writing became tragic, and now I’m recovering. I have, however, bought some lovely new shades of nail-polish and lipstick in the name of research. How are you?”

I guess that means I must be on track.  If I really am on a long march through the Tundra of my own creativity… then I’ll have to take my own advice.
“The only way out is through.”
So now that I’ve disgorged my advice – I’m going to set the temple bells for 40 mins. Turn off the internet, and see if I can’t get another few pages written.
*The quote (btw) is attributed to several people, but the earliest I can find is from the poet Robert Frost in 1914 poem called, “A Servant to Servants”
“Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through—”
**As a side note – my dog is sitting by the front door grumbling like a bad muse.  If this post is as bad as she seems to think it is, I am truly sorry.