Icebreakers

Hi, everyone. A recent post earlier in the week got me thinking about breaking the ice on your current work-in-progress.  As a rule I tend to be pretty disciplined, and most writers are dedicated above and beyond the call of duty. But anyone can get burnt out.

So. Icebreakers. Techniques for overcoming a reluctance to sit down at the computer and write.

I think all these techniques relate to the key problem of being crushed under the weight of too great a goal.

You start off with small goals and as you cruise along – when the words of flowing – two hours becomes four hours, becomes six hours. When you are getting stronger it’s easier to keep adding weight. Yet sooner or later, those muscles give out: through illness, fatigue, overwork, whatever.

Pretty soon if you don’t meet that 4000k, or 6000k daily goal it seems like you are failing.

So as basic as it is (and I can probably hear people gritting their teeth), it’s a case of breaking down the big lump into small lumps. Hopefully nice little tasty, sweet lumps that keep you coming back to the nectar-fountain of creativity.

One icebreaker is to write 200 words. The beauty of less intimidating goals like this is that it is just enough to break through the creative deadlock. Nine times out of ten you will find that when the word target comes along you will be in the middle of a key scene, or a particular paragraph and want to continue to finish things off. Before you know it you’ve written 500 words, or even a thousand without breaking a sweat. The beauty of this is that the whole icebreaker is set up for you to over perform – and you cannot help but feel good about that.

The second key aspect of an icebreaker target is that you should do it first. This is worth stressing. Writing is infinitely easier to break the ice on if it’s done as the very first activity in the day. Procrastination is a force that gathers in strength the more it is fed. The earlier in your day you can break through the hesitations and mental deadlock and restore the creative flow the better. It is then so much easier to come back to your work for another go later.

I personally tend to use time blocks rather than word targets. For me it’s 20 minutes. Since I usually write in 2hr blocks, this really seems like a walk in the park. Taking away the aspect of a word limit also frees me up to think about potential plot problems. It really works. The best thing about it is that when I take the pressure away like that I start to enjoy writing again.

What are your favourite icebreakers?

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