“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath
A couple years ago, I had a flash about a story I might like to tell. I just could not figure out how to do it. What person should I use to tell it? Should I tell both points of view or just one? How could I tell the story of a lifetime in bits an pieces and still tie it all together? How far would the characters go? How would it all work out? I became trapped in the quagmire of questions. I could not get unstuck.
So, I made some notes, tossed the idea on the back burner, and waited for the rest of the inspiration to come to me. I waited two years. It did not come. This weekend away from my family, I knew I would have time to revisit this with a clear head and no obligations. Late Friday afternoon before meeting a friend, I pulled out the laptop and resurrected my notes. I thought they might look different to me after all this time, so I looked at them. Actually, I stared at them until I went cross-eyed. Nothing. I could not stop over thinking the logistics of the story I had already mapped out in my head. They were killing me. I gave up, closed the laptop, and went out with my friend.
Then, an incredible thing happened. After a couple Moscow Mules, I began to get unstuck. My brain opened up and started entertaining possibilities instead of stopping at road blocks. The ideas started to flow. I spent most of yesterday thinking about the conversations that had happened the night before to jumpstart the creativity. And today, with nine uninterrupted hours in the car driving home from Utah, I brainstormed. I got out my iPhone and took voice memos. When I stopped, I took notes. Suddenly, I felt confident that I could say what I needed to say. What had bogged me down, it turns out, was a lack of imagination. With my background in professional and technical writing, I’ve not traditionally been allowed to change details or move a story around. But, I’m not that person anymore. I’m free of those fetters. It’s my story. A fiction story. I can make up whatever I want.
I’m certain there will be other things that will stop me in my tracks throughout this process, but after this minor breakthrough I feel I can handle any additional challenges with a different perspective. If I get stuck again, I will go back to my muse for inspiration. And, if that fails, I’m heading to a bar because I think another couple Moscow Mules might fix me right up.
I don’t think it’s a lack of imagination–it might be just not feeling you had permission to use it in the kind of writing you used to do. The other thing you haven’t had much of is head space–getting out of town without any responsibilities gave you room and time to think–and look what you did in just a few hours! You go girl!
And I’ll be happy to go out for a Moscow Mule anytime you need to clear your head, lol.