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Four tips for avoiding intellectual constipation

April 2, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve written about writer’s block. That’s probably a good sign. It means that, for a while, at least, I’ve been, uhhh, regular. But sometimes you get that uncomfortable, bloated feeling when you strain and groan and ultimately wind up just sitting there, wanting something to come out, but just feeling kind of stupid because everyone on the face of the earth can do this, but somehow, you can’t.

Come on, it happens to everyone from time to time.

In the regular way (Get it? I kill myself!), you can take some Metamucil, have some fibery stuff, and you’re good to go! With writing…not so much.

Or is it?

When I’m straining to produce blog posts, some of the same tips you might use, uhhh, otherwise, could help you here, too.

  • Change your diet. I’m a guy. Completely. If you have any doubts, I like The Three Stooges, Beavis and Butt-head, and Cheers. I mean, I like Cheers maybe more than any other show ever. Probably because I’m the target audience. We’re talking the intellectual equivalent of Cheez Doodles, M&Ms, and chili cheese dogs. They’re fun to eat, but if you subsist on them, you’re gonna get stopped up. If you experience periodic discomfort, maybe you should watch something with–I don’t know–a plot and some heavy-duty character development.
  • Relax. Eventually, if you stop trying so damned hard, you’re gonna…you know. Sitting there obsessing about it probably won’t help you attain that goal. Same thing with writing. If you sit down and strain until there’s blood, you’re just gonna be bleeding. If you get up, do something else, and come back, something might happen.
  • Do what you can. How do I put this without being indelicate? Sometimes accomplish a different, but related thing when you’re…you know. There are multiple ways to eliminate, uhhh, waste. In the same way, if you can’t crank out a scene, you can maybe crank out a character outline, or information about your setting. Or maybe you could do some research about something in your story. Sure, you haven’t produced what you set out to produce, but you have done something productive.
  • Exercise. If I’m experiencing periodic discomfort and I run for a mile or two, a lot of times, I can resolve the problem. Same thing here. Run, or walk, or vacuum the living room. Or maybe spend some quality time with the love of your life. Then come back and try again. Sometimes things will work out better.

Okay, so the analogy is kind of gross, but it’s also appropriate. It’s frustrating to be intellectually constipated and when it finally passes, there’s no denying the feeling when things finally get back to normal. What a relief it is!

  1. Peggy Lambert permalink
    April 2, 2013 11:51 am

    I’ve always been kind of worried that I might say something on a blog that would later embarrass me in some way. I don’t think I’ll worry about it anymore. One feature of a good writer is to tell the truth and not be afraid of it – even if it hurts a little. So, hats off to you, Mr. Hamilton.

  2. Chris Hamilton permalink
    April 2, 2013 12:23 pm

    Thanks. I think. 🙂

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