NaNoWriMo is here, which means my birthday is coming and our American Thanksgiving is at the end of the month. In other words, the holidays are upon us, which often leads to stress for writers.
I reserved my organic grass-fed turkey yesterday. (Yes, I know. I'm from California, okay?) As always, the minute I reserve that glistening gobbler, my stress-meter cranks to high.
My holiday confession: I am deathly afraid to take responsibility for the bird. Really, really afraid. Like heart-pounding-faster-than-a-caffeinated-writer-on-deadline afraid.
Obviously, I have a whopping case of the dreaded "Turkey Block."
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this malady, it's like writer's block...only instead of a fear of the page, it's a fear of the bird.
My big brother (we call him the Bag Whore), talks about his Thanksgiving Bird like it's his holiday love muffin: rubbing it with butter, seasoning it...BRINING it, for Pete's sake. I can't listen to him. And right now, at William's Sonoma, there's a whole freaking wall dedicated to the bird. An. Entire. Wall.
It's wigging me out.
I can't take the responsibility of being in charge of the main event. I just can't. So I pawned it off on Hubby. I even got him a "brining kit," although I'm not exactly sure what it is.
Hubby is tasked with The Bird and I have everything else. I'd rather make sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry fluff, mashed potatoes, stuffing and three pies than do ONE turkey.
[See? Turkey Block.]
I saw a post with the five main symptoms of writer's block and I have ALL FIVE when it comes to The Turkey. I'll put them below so you can see what I mean, and heap sympathy upon me in my time of need.
Symptom #1: No Ideas
If you are stuck and have no ideas, it is probably because you started in
writing, prepping your bird, without doing the ground work of brainstorming and planning.
Remedy: Give the job to your spouse. If you're single, invite someone like The Bag Whore to your feast.
Symptom #2: Boredom
Either you have chosen a
topic turkey you are not particularly interested in, or you've been assigned a topic bird you just don't care much about. Either way, you are stuck because you are bored with your topic turkey.
Remedy: Give the job to your spouse. Or run to the internet. Pray if you need to.
Symptom #3: Lack of Confidence
If you feel you aren't qualified to do the
writing turkey, you will be stuck from the onset. You may worry that your grammar gobbler technique isn't good enough or you have poor spelling basting skills. You may be hearing criticisms in your head from previous attempts at writing turkey-making.
Remedy: Give the job to your spouse. Or open wine. Lots and lots of wine.
Symptom #4: Anxiety
When you are full of anxiety about something, you feel agitated, fidgety, jittery. Your mind goes in every possible direction except to the task at hand.
Remedy: Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet, dimly lit space. Close your eyes and settle your breathing. Then picture yourself doing the required
writing turkey. Don't think about the content bird that needs to be written conquered, only see yourself writing conquering said gobbler. Notice details surrounding you and the turkey...Then notice how you feel about the image and how the person you see feels. Sit with this image for as long as you can.
[I'm pretty much calling crapola on that "remedy."]
Symptom #5: Stress
When stress has its grip, you can't think straight. You can't even begin to sit still and do some
Remedy: Have a
pre-writing pre-bird ritual that helps you to slow down and relax. Know in advance where you plan to write cook and prepare your space. Make it free of clutter and get out your supplies and materials. Then do some physical activity to relax your muscles and clear your mind. Take several deep breaths and do some long, slow stretches.
[So really, they're saying: "Have some sex instead of worrying about your turkey."]
Addendum: Nope. Not working. I'm still thinking about having to look my guests in the eye and apologize for a dry pitiful turkey.
Remedy: Give the job to your spouse. Make TONS of gravy. Drink more wine.
* * * * * *
So there you have it...the five symptoms of Turkey Block and my remedies. Whether you're thinking about your bird or your manuscript, I promise you will break through to the other side.
Have you conquered the Turkey Frontier? What are your secrets? Enquiring minds (and my husband) would love to hear them!
About Jenny Hansen
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.