In the light of National Novel Writing Month being upon us once again, I thought that I would share the things that I do to help get over the slump and the writer’s block that seems to plague everyone.
If you follow me on Twitter (@RaggedyAuthor) you’ve probably seen me preaching to my friends and fellow writers to go make a cup of tea whenever they’re blocked.
That’s because tea is magic.
It’s very much like the pie trick in MIB 3 (If you haven’t seen Men in Black 3, or have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch it and then come back. I’ll wait.)
I call it the Writer’s Tea Ceremony, It goes like this:
Stop what you’re doing. Step away from the project. Staring at it isn’t gonna help.
Get up from where you’re working. Leave your project where it is. Seriously, this is the most important step. You have to leave your work behind. Let it go. Do not take your pen. Do not take a sticky note. Do not take your notebook or laptop. You have to leave your project completely behind. That includes thinking about it. Leave it behind. The thing that is giving you problems is not part of the tea ceremony.
Head down to your kitchen.
Boil the water. And note that here I recommend using a kettle on the stove to boil the water. It takes a little bit longer than microwaving or using an electric kettle and there’s something incredibly satisfying about the low, sad whistle of a kettle when the water is ready.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, select your cup (I suggest getting your favourite mug because it’s comforting.)
Get out your sugar, cream, or milk, vanilla, cinnamon, whatever you add to your tea.
And your tea bag.
Set it all up on the counter. Put the tea bag in the cup. (If you’re using the microwave, may I suggest getting a second cup so you can pour the hot water over the tea bag? It steeps it better, gives it a better flavour.)
Make your tea, dress it how you like it, and put the things away.
Do this all very slowly and purposefully. Focus more on the fact that you’re making tea than anything else. Remember, you’ve left your story and your writer’s block behind.
I suggest that you take a few slow, delicious sips of your tea before returning to your work space. Let the warmth of the tea fill your mouth and your stomach and just take a few moments to actually enjoy the first couple of sips.
Go back and usually you’ll be able to see the problem clearer and you’ll be able to go on. A lot of the time, I get inspired halfway through making tea. That’s awesome. If it happens that you’re inspired while the water is boiling, finish making tea but hold on to that idea. The tea is magic, trust me.
And, of course, if you don’t like tea this works with coffee (although French pressing it is better for the “ceremony” aspect) or hot chocolate. Or cider. Whatever, really. As long as you’re not just pouring it out of a container and calling it good. That defeats the purpose. A cold drink needs to be poured and mixed to have the same effectiveness.
Of course, you might get different results, but this is a trick that works about 95% of the time when I do it.
I hope this trick helps you in your writing and in overcoming Writer’s Block!