A few weeks back I attended the Salem Literary Festival. Among the workshops I attended was one hosted by Maine writer Jefferson Navicky on the prose poem and flash fiction. (Some of his work can be found here and here. Oh, and here, too. And a cool interview in Smokelong Quarterly, the holy grail of flash fiction magazines.)
(Wow, that's a whole lot of links.)
During this discussion, we were given a few writing exercises. Before a couple of the writing exercises, we practiced a technique that can be used before one sits down to write: meditation. Meditation is usually used to clear the brain, to minimize chaos, to increase general good feeling in one's self. Its therapeutic tendencies are central to Buddhism, Taoism, and many other Eastern religions. It is not usually thought of as a technique in writing. The idea of sitting in front of a computer screen or a blank piece of paper, with the intention of filling that empty space, by doing nothing, not even thinking, seems counter-intuitive. And that's precisely why it works.
We all have our own personal difficulties, distractions in sitting down to write: bills, kids, spouses/significant others, basic household chores, Facebook, lack of will, etc. What motivational tactics do we use to get ourselves to write, especially on days when we just can't seem to bring ourselves to write?
What tricks, techniques do you use? Do you use a reward system? Are you a naturally self-disciplined person who doesn't need any tricks? Do you need a deadline: and, if you have a self-imposed deadline, do you have the self-discipline to hold yourself to that deadline?
Confession: there is a partial selfish motive in this discussion topic. Now that I've finished my MFA, I'm finding it difficult to hold myself to writing. So I'm looking for any ideas that others may have.
Since graduating with my MFA, I have spent most of my creative fuel inconsistently updating this blog and trying to decide which of my many creative projects to tackle next. The usual result: too many options yielding creative paralysis.
I recently had this discussion with some friends and fellow writers, and thought I would send it out to whatever readers I have of this blog. Any suggestions, or even discussion is highly welcome.
As always, thanks. And enjoy.