Page Fright – by Jane Ayres

Empty space. Empty place.

A blank page on a blank screen.

Fear of the unknown.  Is that what is so daunting about writing those first few words?  Why is that blank space so intimidating?

Page fright.  A writer’s nightmare.  The evil twin of procrastination.  You’ve done battle with the big P and now you are poised to dazzle with your wordcraft skills, your pearls of insight.  But wait – you hold back.  Will you censor your thoughts and strangle your darlings before they get the chance to draw breath?  What are we afraid of?  Being judged, criticised? Not being good enough?

Creation is a mysterious process.

As a younger writer, I would spend ages staring at that white page (we used pen and paper or typewriters in the 70s!), digging deep for inspiration, wanting the words to be perfect immediately.   I would get everything straight in my head before committing it to paper.

I’ve often read advice for writers that suggests writing anything to fill that space, to overcome the self-censoring instinct.  Later, you can edit what you have written and mould it into something that satisfies you.  This works for me.  The advent of technology has changed the way I compose and I can write my novels in whatever order I wish.  If I am in the mood to work on that action sequence in Chapter 9, I will.  If I feel more reflective, I will write the complex emotional exchange between the main characters in Chapter 3.  Oh, the joys of the cut and paste tool on a word processor!

The way in which we work, the medium used, does affect what we produce.  I love the freedom and flexibility that my laptop offers me.  If I want to change the middle section of my story, I can do so without having to type the whole lot out again from the beginning.  Bliss!  I approach the writing like constructing a patchwork quilt.

But when I use pen and paper, my thought processes are different.  I work inside my head more, and will cover the white space with scribbling, diagrams, lines and arrows, visually setting out the connections.  I probably dream the story more in advance.  And I love using white space to create poetry, which for me is both visual and musical.

When I teach writing workshops, I generally get participants to use paper and pen, which for many students is a bit of a novelty, especially the IT generation, because it offers possibilities that may not have been previously considered.  The results are always exciting. Especially when students have no more than five minutes to complete the first workshop exercise.  Pressure, whether real or imagined, can be a useful motivator.

So, after we have slain the fiery dragons of Procrastination and Page Fright, what other obstacles await us as we continue our journeys on the path of creation?

Procrastination Is Evil – By James Bovington

CC Emilie Ogez

You sit down, you grab your pen or your paintbrush, your finger hover over your keyboard, you say to yourself “Yeah, let’s CREATE!”

Then you check your Facebook. Then you have a sandwich. Then oh dear, it’s time you went to bed.

Procrastinating doesn’t even mean that, deep down in the secret parts of your head, you actually don’t want to do the task you’ve set yourself. I can be really excited about a project and then not start it for a day or two. I can be enthralled by something I’m scribbling down, then just wander off and come back to it later. Sometimes that’s actually helpful. More often, though, it is not.

Procrastination is the murderer of time and for many is almost impossible to avoid. There’s absolutely loads of tips and tricks available that claim to help you stop slacking off, some work, some don’t. You get a different genie each time you rub that particular lamp, so I’m not going to add my own to the legion.

Instead, here’s a handy list of things I’ve done, and you can do too, instead of working on your art; whatever it may be.

  1. Start something else.

This is a good one, actually. A good many times I’ve sat down to write something and ended up babbling about something else. Right now, in fact, I was going to work on my script. So here’s this instead.

  1. Eat something.

Put down your art supplies. You’re hungry. Yes you are. You’d love a sandwich right now. Hell, even some soup. If you’re doing soup you may as well cook up some noodles. Hey, why not make yourself a full stir-fry and watch a bit of telly while you eat it? You can get back to work right afterwards, right? Right?

  1. Check your Facebook page.

Or your Tumblr, or Google+ or whatever it is you crazy kids do nowadays. Go check it. Then check it again.

Then sit there refreshing the page over and over, staring at it as though that’s going to make something new happen. You have no new messages. Keep checking.

  1. Watch the TV.

It’s for inspiration. This show is shot really well, it’s interesting to look at. This show too. And this one. This one is just a really good show. Oh, they’re showing Alien on Channel 4? I’ll watch that then go to bed. I’ll finish my piece tomorrow.

  1. Go to bed.

Cut out the middle man; just go to bed right now. You were up all night working on your art anyway; it’s fine.

  1. Go out with your friends.

You haven’t seen them in days. You have to at least put in an appearance. You can go home early and finish off that article you’re writing. Is that a jagerbomb in your hand? Why are you ordering a gin and tonic? Don’t go to the club, it’s time to… oh, never mind.

  1. Have a hangover.

This is because of 6. You cannot brain today. You have the dumb. Coffee, bacon, telly, bed. No loud noises, thanks.

And finally, my personal favourite.

  1. Do nothing.

The number of times I’ve caught myself just staring at a wall midway through typing a sentence is absolutely ridiculous. Apparently a blank wall is really, really interesting when you have more important things to do.

So that’s that, just some handy suggestions you can use to aid your procrastination and put off working on your art for just that little bit longer.

I hope my little list has helped you come up with new ideas and new ways to avoid working when you really should be, and I hope you have as much fun not doing anything productive as I’ve had enabling your lazy arse.

Now get back to work.

By James Bovington

You can find out more about James at his main writing blog: http://jbovington.wordpress.com

Tumblr account http://burndownthesun.tumblr.com

and Twitter @JBov

Tick Tock – By Jane Ayres

All rights reserved by picasnpoints

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.”

This quote, attributed to John Lennon, will resonate with many creatives, especially writers. For some, myself included, writing seems to lend itself to procrastination (a wonderful word!). When you are exploring creative ideas, no time is ever wasted, since your mind is always active, always filtering possibilities, even if subconsciously.

But when you put off writing by doing some other, apparently unrelated task, it can lead to feelings of guilt and frustration. That you have wasted that precious commodity which we label “time.” We are taught that time should be used productively. We segment and categorise time into minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years.

I’ve always had a problematic relationship with time, resenting the way it dictates how we organise our lives. As a child and teenager, I railed against clocks, which may explain my poor timekeeping. (The expression “keeping” time is strange, it being a fluid concept that cannot be stopped or controlled. As the saying goes, “time waits for no man.”)

We are ruled by clocks. Society assumes that our time should be earmarked and that most of it (and our lives) should be spent on work, doing a paid job. And then, if any of it is left, (which we call “spare time”) we fill it with hobbies or leisure pursuits. So it is all used up. Time is a commodity and spare time is a luxury, a privilege. Does this belief system make any sense?

Having worked for an employer for most of my life, I have had to find ways to build in more time to write. For many years, this involved some very early mornings and writing most weekends and evenings. I frequently complained to anyone who would listen that there simply weren’t enough hours in the day. Yet, when, for a brief period, I did actually have some unscheduled time, how ironic that I was unable to motivate myself to produce anything worthwhile. Maybe, for some, working under pressure to a deadline, whether external or self-imposed, assists the creative process. So perhaps we can use the segmenting of time to our advantage.

Art forms such as music and film exist and move through and with time, whereas painting and writing can freeze time to create a snapshot, like a photograph.

Strangely, as you grow older, time goes faster, or so it seems. A panic sets in, that life is slipping away, and the need to create and produce becomes more urgent. Or are these just the ramblings of an ageing, fifty year old writer?

Only time will tell……

By Jane Ayres

www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland    South East               South West    Wales   West Midlands