July 28, 2012

getting past the block

By Randi Sherman
Guest blogger

Out of necessity, I am able to work on tedious, complex issues with a heads-down approach – but this is the result of years and years of experience running a business, working from a home office in a bustling city, with two dogs a partner who also works out of the house and countless deliveries, and visits from solicitors and friends (who thinks just because you’re home, you’re available) and crazy people who just like to press the doorbell.

Sure – I can state the obvious: If you are blocked, do something else. Change modes or tasks. Change from creative to mechanical mode, vice versa. Set achievable goals, concentrate on a piece at a time – and have small wins.

But instead I’ll tell you what I do.

Balance is the key.
I treat writing as a friend. I schedule time to be with it. I appreciate it. There are boundaries around our relationship. I do not prioritize it over other responsibilities. Writing is not a mistress. We don’t steal cheap moments together.

Weather I am writing or working at my other business (Healthcare Consulting for 20+ years), I have a daily routine. It includes getting up early, walking the dogs, planning my work day, going to the gym and cooking and eating dinner with my partner every night. I take regular vacations which do not include writing or book promotion.

For me, following a routine, allows me the time to relax and think.

Some of the most creative problem solving time I have is when I am on a treadmill at the gym, looking out the window. I listen to music and think about the overall story (nothing in particular), rejoice in my own genius and then a character, idea, transition or story flow issue will present itself. I just listen to my thoughts. I don’t push or problem solve. I don’t have a special formula. I remind myself that I write fiction and every aspect of the story is within me. I just wait and listen. Sometimes it’s as simple as pithy dialogue, other times it’s introducing a new interesting twist, or an additional chapter to work out a problem or revisit a theme.

As you might imagine, the times that those Pulitzer moments and the critical editing ideas, additional chapters and dialogue occur to me –only happen when I do not have a pad and pencil or recording device handy. Isn’t that always the way?

Give yourself a break

Take the pressure off of yourself. You are not at war or in a race. Remember there is no war or competition if there are not two opponents. Your story is not fighting with you.

Writing is not about who finishes first, which book is bigger or more important. Being a writer is about following a dream, creativity, and accomplishment. It’s about inspiring, informing and entertaining. Don’t make something you love into something you hate.

Read my review of Paula Takes a Risk here.

About the Author
Randi Sherman, a native Californian, lives in San Francisco. With her tremendous grasp of the obvious, Randi has always had the ability to find humor in the mundane and share the laughter. She dares to examine and discuss everyday foibles, which obliges people to stop taking themselves too seriously.

Developing characters and writing have been a part of Randi’s life since she was a teenager, umm-mmum-mumm years ago. She spent time performing stand-up comedy at Los Angeles club amateur nights and studied Improvisation in the Bay Area. Realizing that she preferred having an income, living indoors and eating regularly, she reluctantly put her dreams on hold and entered the corporate world, yet never left behind her sense of humor and creative storytelling ability, skills which were not always appreciated during budget and strategy meetings.

Now, after living indoors for a while and eating, albeit too much, her book, Paula Takes a Risk is here. Randi’s unique wit, writing style and candor will surely make the reader sit up, stand up, roll over or assume an interested leaning position and take notice.

Randi would never claim to have a genius IQ, the body of a super model or always have the right thing to wear. However, she can spell the words, “smart” and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Randi maintains a trim, well-toned body that is cleverly concealed beneath twenty pounds of soft protective layering and she has the appetite of a bird. (By “bird” I mean vulture.) Her entire wardrobe consists of black, black and varying degrees of black, except for those items that are covered with lint because she put them through the wash with a tissue.

Things that Randi cannot live without: people to laugh with, her car horn, a gym membership where there are chubby women who break into a sweat while putting on a jog bra, wine, waist capes, and her partner, Carol.

Randi does not like mean-spirited people, liver, left-overs, communal dressing rooms, tight underwear, and people who point.

Randi is five-foot-seven.

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