Tuesday, June 21, 2011

VCFA Blog Initiative

I am joining several other students/alums at Vermont College of Fine Arts by participating in a blog initiative this summer. We have each produced a couple of blog posts that are being picked up by other blogs about writing and/or children's literature. Our posts will allow the regular blog writers to take a little bit of a vacation, and the goal is to draw attention to the wonderful program we have at VCFA.

I will update this space with more information as it becomes available. I have included one of my posts below that will be appearing on several blogs in the next couple of months. I will link to them on the appropriate days.

Working Through Writer’s Block

As a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, one of the most challenging requirements that my classmates and I face is the dreaded deadline. Each month we must submit a ‘packet’ of work that contains a reflection letter, essays, revised and new creative work, bibliographies, and exercises. You name it, and we probably have to do it. It’s intense. We have to consistently produce quality work at a torrid pace. So, you ask, what happens when writer’s block sets in?

First, if you never get writer’s block, please stop reading this immediately and go do whatever it is that you do when you’re not procrastinating or trying to figure things out. This is not for you.

Okay, now that we got those guys out of here, let’s get back to business. Writer’s block is a blessing, not a curse. That’s right. Even for grad students with deadlines. It provides us with valuable time to clear our minds, and it gives us ample opportunities to formulate future plans. So, when writer’s block hits, don’t try to fight through it at any cost. Don’t try to force yourself to write just for the sake of writing.

Relax. Take a break. Recharge.

Here are some things that work for me:

- Get away from the computer. I happen to live in the hills of Vermont, so I usually go for a walk, a hike, or a run in the middle nowhere. The solitude is great for thinking. Before long, ideas for my current work-in-progress always spring into my head. I think it’s because my brain no longer feels captive to the keyboard. There’s no pressure. The same reaction can work in a city. Find a place that you love to be. Go there. Let your subconscious take over.

- Immerse yourself in the creativity of others. Go to concerts, art shows and exhibits, farmers’ markets, museums of any kind, lectures, sporting events, etc. Insert unnamed event or activity here. People are amazing, and they’re all around us. I find that just being close to talented individuals or the things they create gets me going. It makes me think about my own creations. It makes me want to race back to the computer. Creativity is contagious.

- Start a completely new project. Maybe there's an idea that has been swirling around in your head for years? Write a chapter. Maybe there’s a short story contest that you’ve always wanted to enter? Do it. Write it. When you return to your previous work you’ll be refreshed and ready to go.

- Read. Read something for pure pleasure. Throw off your reading-like-a-writer-hat and just enjoy. Get lost in the story, regardless of style or genre. Let it take you to that place that only great books can find. I guarantee you’ll come across some useful ideas while your visiting.

I count myself very lucky to be part of the VCFA writing community; a place where things like introspection and exploration of any kind are encouraged. I could even write my next essay about writer’s block and how it affects me. It’ll have to wait though. I have a packet due in a few days, and I’m feeling a bit cloudy. Nothing like a run in the Green Mountains to clear the mind.

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