by Rachael Acks
Question number two always makes me feel kind of odd, because I've never had a problem with the dreaded block, not in that way. At worse, I'll get kind of stuck on a scene or feel like my plot is bottoming out, and then I just have to take a minute and clear my head out so the problem can resolve itself.
So how to clear out the old brain? I think that's a more interesting question. My husband claims that he can just sit down and literally stop thinking. If he's not lying about it, I'm insanely jealous of that ability. I have a heck of a time trying to get my thoughts to simply give me a rest.
The best solution I've found for myself is, of all things, exercise.
I never thought I'd actually like exercise. I was a fat nerd all through school (still am a fat nerd, really) and PE was the bane of my young existence. Outside of weightlifting, where I excelled, all PE ever taught me was that exercise is humiliating, painful, and not for people like me. (Oh yes, and that girls who sweat are "gross" because apparently girls aren't actual human, but that's a rant for another time.)
Teaching me to fear and hate exercise is, I think, the worse crime the public school system perpetrated upon me. It took me years to figure out that you can run without it being a race, that it should be okay if you're not the most coordinated person on the planet so long as you're having a good time and trying. I had to learn to have fun with what my body could do instead of being angry at myself for not being a natural athlete and thus unfairly ruining my otherwise perfect GPA.
Because that's the thing about exercise, and the reason I think it works well as a cure for writers block as well as a thousand other ills: it takes you out of your head and puts you firmly back in your body. For a while, if you think about anything you just think about your breathing, or your next step, or if you can squeeze out just one more rep. And I think for me, since I'm not picking at the story any more, that gives it space to put itself in order in the back of my brain.
I could go on and on about health, about all the other reasons to exercise, but this is definitely my favorite one. I wish I'd known what it felt like, to just live within myself, back when I was in school. I probably could have really used it, back then. Even now, it helps immeasurably.
Find something you like doing, even love doing. I bike, run, lift weights, and practice kung fu. If it feels like a punishment, try something else, because that's another high school lie: physical activity isn't something we do to ourselves because it's awful and we deserve awful things. I think at its best, it's pure joy and sometimes you get to fly. Even at its worst, it'll at least take your mind off that prickly, frustrating story for a while.
What do you do to get out of your head?
While you’re considering my question how about a glimpse into the newest adventure of Captain Ramos Blood in Elk Creek for danger, mystery, and a horse named Dolly.
Once called the Great Plains, the Dead Plains are a place in which no sane citizen of the Duchies dares set foot. The Infected roam the lands in starving packs and rare is the man who returns alive from an expedition. But when one of the regiments of the Grand Duchy of Denver disappears into those wilds under false pretenses, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas dares the Dead Plains to investigate. And Captain Marta Ramos, infamous pirate and thorn in his side, is not far behind.
Foul events are afoot in the Black Hills: Lakota hunting camps leveled, and the Infected move as an army in purposeful, terrifying ways. Captain Ramos and Colonel Douglas must form an uneasy truce and venture deep into the hostile terrain of the Black Hills to discover what has prompted this invasion and how to stop it.
If the Infected don't kill them first.
To read an excerpts from the other books by Rachael Acks) please click HERE.
Rachael Acks is a geologist and writer. She has had short stories published in Strange Horizons, Penumbra, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and is a proud member of the Northern Colorado Writer's Workshop. Rachael lives in Houston with her husband and their two furry friends. In her not-so-copious spare time, she bikes and practices kung fu.
Learn more about Rachael Acks and see her publication list on her website and follow her on Twitter