I mentioned in a comment reply not long ago that a good way to get words going is to get your muscles going, and it’s something I’ve had cause to rediscover myself. Monday was a public holiday here and a few of us got together at D’s place to write for an afternoon and then kick back over a barbeque dinner. What a great plan.
Except that I sat paralysed for just about the whole day, unable to bring it off. I had a lead-in to the story I was working on, and I had the point where the narrative crosses over to the second lead-in so that the characters are on the appropriate collision course. And they wouldn’t go. They wouldn’t. They would NOT. It was like trying to force two superstrong magnets together at their repelling poles, or trying to pull a loaded trailer towards a car when you don’t have the leverage or the force to get it to budge. You can see where everything’s supposed to fit together, but here’s this big chunk of daylight between them and it just will not get any smaller no matter what you do.
“What you do”, in this case for me involved making and drinking coffee, making and drinking more coffee, sitting slumped at the table with my chin in my hands snapping at the other folks sitting around at their laptops, and occasionally closing my eyes and drumming my fingers. Every so often I’d cut out the one sentence I’d managed to write, since it obviously wasn’t the way to start the new section. Then I’d scowl at the screen for a few minutes and paste the sentence back in since it obviously was the way to start the new section. Maybe twenty minutes later I’d go through the same thing again.
Fed up with all that after reading the paragraph? I don’t blame you. I went through that for hours and I was pretty fed up myself. Finally I pushed away the thought of more coffee, pulled on some shoes and went prowling off through Karabar to see if my feet would jolt my brain nto gear.
Took a while. I think there was at least half an hour of just stomping and muttering and hot, resentful mental static. After a while the foul temper started to thin out, and by the time I was away from the houses and walking through bushland the bad temper was taking conscious effort to keep up, so I stopped making the effort. Once I was starting to register the sound of the breeze and the clouds I found a place to sit and let my hands wander off and crumble bits of bark while I turned the story over in my head. It’s a very nice sensation to actually feel a mellow smile spreading over your face. After a little while of this I followed the trail back to the street and the street back to the house, sat down and started work again. The story isn’t moving fast, but it’s moving smoothly and constantly. I can feel its wheels turning and its gears engaging. Finally.
So, then. Important writing tool: a pair of sneakers by the front door and a good few kilometres of walking paths. How did I forget that?