Sweet Pipes, let’s call it a clog. I think clogs happen because either our pipes are rusty or we’re trying to force too much through too small an opening.
Here are a few things I like do to get things moving:
1. Where do the pipes go? Who are you talking to? For some reason, it’s always easier for me to write letters than it is for me to just write. Imagine you are writing a lover who thinks everything you say is fascinating. The lover is stuck in a cubicle in a strip mall and needs to know everything you are seeing/feeling to feel sane.
2. Make a list. Write 10 things/objects/images that relate to the thing you are trying to get at. Then set a timer for 7 minutes. Pick one of those things and write on it for seven minutes. Describe it in every way you can. Sight, smell, taste, touch, sound. (This is from Lynda Barry’s Writing the Unthinkable)
3. Get in a class. Sometimes just having a coach to guide you makes it so much easier to navigate the massive, beckoning ideas. My friend, Tatyana Brown offers an online course for just such a thing: http://madscientistwriterslab.com/
4. Notice everything. Where ever you are, however you feel, spend a few minutes getting still and noticing your body. Notice the breath between your nostril and upper lip. Notice the barking dogs, locusts, air conditioner. Notice the tingle in your toe and the nervousness in your stomach. Notice how a memory just floated in about the first time you touched her knee. Notice it all. Now write about it.
5. Be fascinated. Be fascinated by the whole fucking world and it’s bizarre eating habits. How the hell do toilets work? How is it that everyone is standing around staring at a glass box of light in their hands? How is it fucking possible that we all got here and you sent me a question through the air and I needed to answer that question so I could remember how magical it all is?
6. Get small. If what you want to say wont come down the pipe, it might just be a walrus. You have to start with a toenail. A tooth. Tell about the whisker and snort. Don’t try to tell the whole slippery beast.
Sweet pipes, I’m guessing at some point you got in some writing vortex and wrote a lot of good stuff and then someone said “Wow, this is good. You should do more of this!” And you said, “Yes, I’m going to do so much more of that good stuff. Okay, good stuff, come on out.” The tricky part is when you were writing in the beginning you were doing it for the joy of it. Now you want to replicate some good thing you wrote while in the vortex. It’s the vortex you should replicate. What are the easiest funnest things that get you there? Let’s put all our energy on feeling the same kind of delicious satisfaction that comes in when we play in that place rather than producing any good stuff. Just leave the old rusty pipes right where they are and lay new ones. Find the faucet. Find the fountain. Wear your best splashing suit.