Escaping the ice-lock

Or how I’ve been panicking about not writing anything new…

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I had so many goals this year: I was going to put the final touches to Godless MonstersI was going to finish the new play I’d started last year and I was also going to make a one act piece full length.

But like a lot of things this year, it just didn’t go to plan.

Godless Monsters is developing well: I’m working with a new director, went on a course to further develop it and had an excerpt shown in April. We’ve had a workshop since and I’ll be refining the play further, but when I went back to work on my new piece in May…

nothing…

not even anything…

JUST…

NOTHING!

Despite my efforts my new story fell apart and I couldn’t see any way to get it together so I stopped writing it. I tried something new, something small, but even that wouldn’t come. So I just stopped writing. I didn’t even write in my diary (which I’ve had for over 10 years and when my writing projects falter that’s where I go instead).

Playwright Kate O’Reilly thinks of this moment as being similar to the moment captured by Frank Hurley’s photograph (above) of the ship The Endurance stuck in the ice on Ernest Shackleton’s expedition. She’s written a really great blog post on exactly the problem I was having and I realised

I’m a writer locked in the ice!

Her analogy felt a lot better than the term writers block as she talks about tiredness and lack of research as being fuel for this ice-lock rather than it being a total block. O’Reilly doesn’t actually believe in writers block, as she believes

‘the imagination is infinite and as such, can be endlessly resourceful.’

Reading her post ‘Take inspiration and above all, endure….’ really helped me not to panic that I wasn’t writing anything new, and let me allow myself to just sit with my feelings and encouraged me, when I was ready, to do more research into the topic my new play is looking at and find a way to thaw the ice around me.

I also came across a creativity blog by creative mentor Jani Franck.

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Picture source: http://janifranck.co.uk

If you sign up and download her playbook you can explore what point you’re on in what she calls the creativity spiral. It may feel like all your inspiration has gone and will never return, but she encourages you to think of creativity as cyclical and not a static thing. It really helped me to start to understand my own creativity and to do small things to feed my inspiration without looking for results.

And then all of a sudden I was back at my desk…

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My writing desk

I’m pleased to say that last month, for the first time in what feels like forever (it’s been about 6 months), I actually had a new idea for my story. I sat down one Saturday morning and just wrote it out. I had a submissions deadline in mind that I just haven’t been able to meet, but that’s ok. The fact that I’m writing new things is reward enough! I’ve also been accepted on a residency (more news on that when it’s all confirmed) early next year so I can take some time out to work on this new angle for my story.

I’ve been frantic these last few months. I’m never working on nothing new. But through this process of taking time out and looking at the nature of my own creativity I realised I hadn’t dried up. I was going through my own process and even if it felt like the ideas I had were too big to make their way onto the page.

I find my best writing comes from the coal way down deep and maybe sometimes you need new earth to grow and pack down before you can mine again. I don’t know how successful my new ideas will be, but I do know that my boat has finally broken the ice, and now I just need to find that mysterious land where my story works.

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