Sometimes I get into a place, mentally, where the words just won’t come. It’s not really writer’s block, it’s usually when I’m going through some situation that causes a lot of emotion, which makes it difficult for me to “clear my mind” and write.
But I know that situations change, emotions fade, and my mind will clear—eventually.
So I don’t get too upset about it.
There are things I do do when this happens that seem to help me settle my emotions and gain that clarity I’m looking for.
One thing is I move more. For example, I had a lot of “to-dos” on my list today, but I went snowshoeing for two hours anyway. Returning from the woods and the pond, I was much calmer and ready to tackle that list.
Another thing I do is anything that involves using my hands. I’ve picked up various projects and worked on them in the past few weeks, from a shawl I’m knitting to a latch-hook rug I’m making for my son.
I’ve also started making zentangles. I’ve always been a doodler, but I recently read about making doodles as a meditative practice. I took to it right away.
Here’s the first zentangle I drew:
Here’s the most recent one I drew:
All you need is a pencil, a pen, and a piece of paper (or a tile, which is just a small square piece of very nice paper to draw on.)
I have found doing the zentangles therapeutic, and I’ve also gotten some ideas about my writing while doing them. When I do them right before bed, I find myself more relaxed and I’ve been getting more ideas. It’s a right-brain exercise that often leads to a left-brain “ah-ha” moment.
The point is just to do them. Insights may come, but the act of focusing on a small square of paper and a repetitive design is what’s important. The hardest part is giving myself permission to “waste” time in this way. When I do, I’m always glad I did.
How do you clear your mind and settle your emotions so you can write?
Diane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, and family physician. I’m plugging away at my writing life, in the midst of everything else, just like everyone else I know.