As an international book editor, I’ve been asked a gazillion times (not really, but it feels like it) about writer’s block and how to defeat it.
Well, there are generic well-known tips like “Read books” and “Go on a walk” and “Don’t put pressure on yourself.”
But what about solid, tangible, hands-on remedies? After thirty years in the field, perhaps my own personal solutions will help unblock what ails you.
Citrus — the “Jump Start” Aroma
One day I defaulted to eight cups of coffee to kick my brain into high gear … because it felt like I was swimming through molasses. I just couldn’t get anything on paper. Then I snacked on an orange. Well, not just any orange. It was one of those tiny Clementines (seedless mandarins) with a pungent scent—crisp, strong and overwhelmingly citrus.
That aroma seeped in and did some sort of magic. The next thing I knew, my keyboard was on fire.
I have sliced oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit ever since, just inhaling the clean, lovely tanginess. There’s something about the wafting citrus scent that unplugs my mind. If it’s a lemon or lime, I usually squeeze that into my tea. If it’s an orange or grapefruit, I keep the peel in a bowl next to my keyboard, ensuring that my working environment remains citrus-y.
Will it work for you? I hope so! You’ll never know unless you try. If nothing else, it’s a healthy brain food option.
Another quirky writer’s block epiphany occurred in the powder room of an office building. I was wallowing in a huge case of writer’s block and distracted myself by putting on lipstick. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I noticed the tile pattern on the wall behind me. There was something about the tile patterns … they lured me in. I stared and stared, eyes moving from one small square to the next.
I finally turned around and faced an entire wall of tiles. My eyes zeroed in on a particular pattern, and that’s all it took. My mind cleared. I was ready to write again, and boy, did I ever!
Our Five Senses to the Rescue
I can’t explain exactly why citrus scents and tile patterns jolt my brain out of lock down. I just know they work for me, which is a good thing. After all, I started editing book thirty years ago locally, and then within my state, and before long national clients found me. I became an international book editor once my first Canadian clients hired me, followed by an Australian client. Today I have European clients, so there is zero time to waste on this writer’s block stuff.
My theory is that our five senses work with our brains to defeat writer’s block. What we see, taste, smell, touch and possibly hear might counter those darn blocks naturally, organically, and gently, no less.
Try it and experiment with your own sensory solutions. Perhaps knocking over dominoes or playing piano or braiding ribbon will work for you. Who knows!
Check out my book editing page and email Melanie@MelanieSaxtonMedia.com for all your editing and writing needs. I promise to keep a bowl of oranges handy just in case I need them, which ensures your timelines and deliverables will be met.