Category Archives: Writer’s Block

When Blogs Go Silent

As a blogger, at some point you realize it’s been a few days since your last post. Maybe you’re strapped for time, or your creativity is on vacation. Either way, that need to publish something worthwhile sits on your shoulder like a tiny little troll, reminding you on a daily basis that you’re not writing.

Klout score 2

(Extra points to anyone who recognizes the font in this graphic.)

Yes, blog troll. I’ve noticed. Thanks for rubbing salt into a gaping, open, “Trauma in the ER” type wound. Ow.

Eventually a week goes by. Two. Maybe even three. You’re out living your life, spending time with friends, paying bills, going to the gym, doing whatever it is that you do that keeps you away from your keyboard. But every time you have a free minute to yourself, that troll starts speaking up again.

“You’re losing readers!”

“You haven’t had any page views since May!”

“C’mon, there’s bound to be SOMETHING you can write about! Sit down and do it!”

And then, inevitably, at some point in your blogging career, you will look at your last “recent” post and realize it was published almost two months ago. You’ll realize it’s been a few weeks since that troll grumbled something in your ear about “practicing your craft.”

That’s when you realize that if writing is like exercising a muscle, then you must be this guy:

how-to-gain-muscle-for-skinny-guys-1060463-flash

(Awwww…he’s a-DORK-able!)

Now look here, readers. (Or should I say, crickets?) I don’t mean to make light of a bad situation. I’ve had creative droughts before—some of them disguising themselves as writer’s block, others just blatant distractions like beach time and ‘Friends’ marathons–but I’ve never had one like this before.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have tons of them. I’m jotting them down on my phone every single day.

It’s not that I don’t have the spare time to write. I do, I’m just using it to watch reruns of Parks and Rec instead.

My drive has put itself in park. My gumption has dumped me. My ambitions went on vacation then forgot to come home. I used to be driven, and now I’m just stationary.

Somebody stop me.

Or, don’t stop me, but cheer for me to continue rambling in a disconnected fashion until I have a blog I can publish!

In all seriousness, I feel the call to get back to that part of myself that feels most complete when I’m writing. It’s time for me to carve out that time every day to dip my toes into the creative pool inside of my brain. (No, it’s a sparkling pool of creativity, not a gross pool of brain goo.)

I’ll find my way back to it, with posts like this one. It may not deserve the Pulitzer Prize of Bloggy Awesomeness, but it’s a start. And everybody has to start somewhere.

Even glasses-wearing weight lifter guy.

Writing, Again.

Joss

It comes to me in fits and starts, at first. Flashes of a scene; bits of errant dialogue; a character’s face, even if the features are still a bit fuzzy around the edges.

My desk fills with bits of scrap paper and post-its: names, places, plot points.

I find myself experimenting with conversations in the shower, talking out loud as I flesh out who these characters will be, and what their histories have been.

It’s not a book, or a blog, or a short story yet. It’s all abstract. Ideas. Snippets. A sky in shades of blue, an oak tree dripping with Spanish moss, a creaky front porch with a screen door falling off its hinges. A woman with a painful past coming home to lick her wounds, to find herself amidst the overgrown hydrangeas and too-tall crab grass of her home town.

Will it turn into another novel? I don’t know. Maybe.

But for now, my creativity begins to spill out again. I relish it; I close my eyes and let my mind wander as the story sews itself together. Something deep inside begins to glow again, and I wrap my hands around it, warming my hands on the hope of something shiny and new.

Yes, it’s true, I haven’t written anything in quite a while. Quite a LONG while. But that doesn’t take away from who I am, at my core. I am a writer, a creator. I am a weaver of words and a chronicler of stories.

I may have taken a sabbatical from the thing that I love most, but it doesn’t make me any less of a writer–despite what Pinterest and Twitter and other writers might say.

“Writers write!,” they proclaim. “Even without inspiration a writer should be honing her craft, without fail!” Their vehemence sends me cowering. And that’s no mind frame for healthy creative thinking. At least not for me.

writers write

For me, when inspiration wanes, and creativity wanders, I need to “refill the well.” And so I spent my summer reading, observing, experiencing. Living. Scrubbing all the cobwebs away from the recesses of my brain. And as the weather begins to change, and the rain patters softly on my window, I find the desire to write is slowly returning. For that, I am thankful. For that, I am excited. I am no longer cowering.

And so, a new project begins.

Inevitable Changes

Twenty-two days.

I’ve never gone so long without writing. No since I started up Abby Gabs, anyway.

It isn’t as if I haven’t thought about it. I have. Every morning, as I’m singing away in the shower, I have the same thought. “I should write a blog today.” And then, as the soap washes down the drain, I wrack my mind for a topic to write about. And quite frankly, for the last three weeks, I haven’t been able to come up with a single one.

bang head here

Click for source

Well, that’s not entirely true. I could tell you all about the success I’m continuing to have with my weight loss. Dazzle you with before/after pictures, and regale you with tales of the gym. But the truth is–the weight is coming off slowly, there’s no major number or picture to share, and it’s just part of my daily life now. —>Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful thing! But I’m not so sure it’s “blog-worthy.”

I could write about the silly thing that happened at the grocery story the other day, or the time I walked into an occupied dressing room at the bra store, or the funny conversation I had with Brian in the car on the way to the movies. But those don’t necessarily feel like headlines anymore. True, they were my blogger’s bread and butter for almost 3 years, but as our lives morph and change into something brand new, I’m beginning to wonder if my writing style won’t change with it.

You see, our lives have been totally taken over by this adoption process. It’s all we talk about, it’s all we focus on, it’s all we do. The last couple of months have been dedicated solely to fundraising, and if we aren’t actively making signs, writing up ads, sending out Facebook messages and Tweets, and setting up for a major fundraiser, then we’re actually DOING the fundraiser. (You would be shocked and amazed at how much time and energy it takes to have a rummage sale—especially when you have THREE storage units filled with donations to sell!) While we’ve managed to put quite a nice chunk of change in the bank, I feel like my brain cells are totally absorbed by this whole process. Creativity has been scarce around here, and when I’ve been forced to use it, the entire extent of it goes toward fundraising.

Let’s get to the meat of the issue here, readers (if you’re still even reading…) When I started this blog, it was with the intent that this would be a silly place for you to hang out. Somewhere for you to come to get your daily giggle. I went to great lengths to be the silliest blogger on the internet, to set myself apart from the rest with my weird faces, silly illustrations, and goofy Photoshopped tales. When I can’t think of a topic to write about that falls in that “make ’em laugh” category, I wind up not writing at all. And that’s the current predicament which has left us all without our daily dose of Abby Gabs.

Click for source

Click for source

I think, as a writer, it’s important for me to allow myself to grow and change. I also think it’s hugely important not to put pressure on myself to fit in a “niche.” And so, as my focus shifts, I have to learn how to continue to be a writer as it fits in my new life.

My promise to you, readers, is that I’ll do my best to keep it fun to read. It may not always be funny, but it will come from the most honest part of myself.

And my promise to myself is to keep finding the time, and the inclination, to write: without reservation, without fear of being judged for changing, with the same gusto as before.

Thank you for being patient with me on this journey. I know I’ll find my way back to my creative side eventually. For now, my thoughts are consumed with ‘all things adoption.’ And really? That’s how it should be, for now.

So. Freakin’. Busy.

My life has been filled with adventure these last few weeks. Birthday parties and dinner parties and bridal showers and photographing my first ever wedding and redesigning my blog and redecorating my house and spending time with visiting family members…my social calendar has been filled to the brim. Every single second of it has been exhilarating and fun, while simultaneously being exhausting and stressful. When I complete a project or finish an engagement, I get that short-lived feeling of fulfillment as I check another item off of my To-Do list. But mostly, lately, I’ve been feeling a little like this:

Pulled

Cartoon courtesy of Bitstrips.

You would think that after nearly 6 weeks, I’d be ready to kick back in November and take a little break. But nay, dear readers. Why would I do that? Life is so much more fun when you’re an active participant. So here’s a little list of what the month of turkeys and pilgrims and pumpkin pie has in store for me.

NaNoWriMo 2013
This will be the third year running that I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month. In fact, between 2011 and 2013, I managed to actually complete an entire novel (which I’m still in the process of trying to get published.) Here’s the thing: both years that I’ve participated, I had a game plan going in. A story I wanted to tell. Characters that were as clear in my head as living, breathing people.

This year, I’ve got…<insert drum roll here>….

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zippo.

With one month to write 50,000 words looming over me, I’m feeling the pressure to come up with a brilliant idea, stat. I need a sedative, a 12-gallon cup of coffee, and a shot of creativity, please.

Pack My Pontiac Food & Toy Drive
Call me a sucker if you want, but the following video presented by Kid President got me all inspired and stuff.

*Abby wipes away a tear.* Seriously, that kid rocks my socks.

Anywhoo, by the time I saw this video, the month of ‘Soctober’ was already coming quickly to a close. So I decided to do some investigating and take the month of November to find a worthy cause to champion in the name of taking back the internet. And I have.

My friend Lynda and I are running a food drive for our local homeless shelter. It started out as a small idea and has since snowballed–I have a partner, we have a corporate sponsor, and we’re planning on doing some serious fundraising, yo.

Pack My Pontiac

So my days have been filled with sending emails and making phone calls, creating fliers and a FB page, and brainstorming with Lynda in the hopes that we’ll be able to pack the back of my car–and hers!–with a giant pile of items to donate.

It gets me all tingly and excited thinking about the possibilities.

And lastly (and potentially most importantly)…..

Pestering the Poo Out Of My Friends By Posting All The Christmasy Things I Can Find On Pinterest From Now Until New Years

christmas

Seriously. I’ve had to look at so many pictures of spiders in my FB feed for the last 31 days that I’m already my revenge, Rudolph style. (This isn’t really something that will take too much time or effort as I started pinning Christmas stuff in August.)

What’s on your calendar in November?

It’s The Cable Company’s Fault.

Yesterday, I sprung from bed like a Hollywood starlet, with flowers in my hair and a glimmer in my eye.

Morning

Even before the spray of the shower washed the sleep from my brain, I had decided I was going to seize the day. I was going to clean, I was going to cook, I was going to stretch my creativity somehow, I was going to Get. Stuff. Done.

But most importantly, I was going to write.

I completed my morning chores, poured myself a steaming-hot cup of coffee, and sat down at my computer, ready to dazzle you, dear readers, with my wit. I clicked on my Google Chrome browser button and waited.

And waited some more.

Oh, the waiting.

That’s when I realized that my internet was down.

no-web

I did all the usual tech-y things that I know to do: I unplugged my router and plugged it back in again. I waited for a few seconds (cursing the whole time) and tried again. I blew on it. (I realize that’s a trick for old school Nintendo games, but I figured hey, why not?)

When all else failed, I yelled for my husband.

Brian came over and unplugged the router and plugged it back in again. (Like I didn’t already try that, honey.) Then he did some other complicated stuff that I didn’t follow. And finally, he called the cable company to complain that we had no internet, which was simultaneously crushing my creativity AND causing me to wail from my fetal position on the living room rug.

“There’s an outage in this area. Technicians are working on it,” he said, delivering the news with as much kindness as he could muster.

And so, with my frustration reaching its peak, I turned my back on the computer and went to the DMV instead.

Capture 1

(Which may or may not have been advisable, but I needed a new driver’s license.)

So anyway, I had a brilliant post that would have totally defined my blog–one that would have put Abby Gabs on the map–planned for yesterday. But I didn’t get around to it, and now the brilliance has passed.

And all because I had no internet.

Sometimes, All It Takes Is A Memory (Or Two)

I’m not sure if it’s because of summer finally arriving in all her sunshiney glory, distractions around the house, or general lethargy, but my writing has been unceremoniously shoved onto the back burner lately. And so, this morning, I decided I needed to go on the search for some much-needed inspiration.

 
Step one, as usual, involved coffee. (Don’t judge me. Caffeine sometimes jump starts my brain into that “be creative and funny” space that orange juice just doesn’t accomplish.)
 

 
Brain cells active after a cup (or two), I sat down at my computer, opened up Spotify, and pulled up my new favorite playlist. It’s titled “Take Me Back.” And it’s filled with 90s radio hits. And it makes me giddy.
 
2Pac and Green Day and Train…Oh My!

Tunes rockin’ from the speakers, I clicked on my internet browser and headed over to Abby Gabs. Confident something blog-worthy would smack me in the face, I opened up a new document. And sat there for 20 minutes, the white page staring starkly at my caffeinated face.
 
For some reason, in the nano-second before I clicked the red X and gave in to my writer’s block for the day, I was struck with the sudden urge to give it one last college try. I took my coffee and headed for one of my several book shelves. And there, on the top shelf, covered in an embarrassing layer of dust, was the book that I thought might solve all my problems.
 
A graduation gift from a high school sweetheart, and we’re back in business, baby!

Filled with faith that Shel would help me out of my writing funk, I wiped the dust from the jacket and headed back to my desk. I began to thumb through the pages, smiling at the pencil sketches, giggling at the silly rhymes. Memories of my younger self, sitting in the floor of my dorm room, this same book in my lap, flooded my brain. I flipped to my favorite poem in the book from memory, barely noticing the small slip of paper that floated down to land in my lap. I wiped a tear away as I read about Deaf Donald:
 
Source

And then I closed the book. As I stood to return it to the shelf, the slip of paper that had been hiding between the pages fell from my lap to the floor. Curious, I picked it up. And found a carefully preserved, slightly wrinkly artifact from my childhood that stunned me.
 

It was a ticket stub from the one-and-only New Kids on the Block concert I’ve ever attended, way back in 1990. I was 9 years old, and I still remember the way my stomach lurched when the house lights went down. I can close my eyes and hear the roar of the teenage crowd as the group took the stage. I remember dancing in the aisles with my little brother, waving our homemade signs around with certainty that they’d be seen. I even remember catching a glance of my parents, smiling and singing along with the music that became the soundtrack for my childhood. It wasn’t just a concert, it wasn’t just about the boys in ripped jeans.  It was a life experience. And it’s one of those memories that I’ll always cherish.
 
As I held the ticket stub in my hand, I wondered how it had wound up hidden between the pages of a book that was given to me at my high school graduation. I trailed my finger along its battered edges, reading every letter of print, marveling that such an insignificant little thing as a used ticket stub could hold so much meaning. I slipped it back between the pages of Silverstein, marking the page for Deaf Donald, and cradled the book in my arms as I took it back to the book shelf in my bedroom. And knew that each time I passed that book on my way to bed each night, at least for a little while, I would smile with the knowledge that it was there, hidden among the words that had inspired me for much of my life.
 
And suddenly, a blog was born.

My Relationship with Creativity

Creativity. On my list of “Abby’s best traits,” Creativity is Numero Uno. I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person. It’s a major part of who I am: as a person, and especially as a writer. Without Creativity, Abby Gabs wouldn’t be what it is today. Every single blog I’ve ever published came from a spark of Creativity…whether it was a silly blog, a serious blog, a video blog, or an illustrated blog. Every single one came from my pal, Creativity.

Creativity isn’t just something you pick up along the way. It’s not really something you can learn, or even something that can be taught. I truly believe that those who are creative are born that way. There’s something in them begging to be released, and whether it’s through music, or art, or poetry, or dance, or humorous blogs fueled by Photoshop, those creative people find their outlet and learn to shine.

Truth is, Creativity and I go WAAAAAY back.

As a child, Creativity was with me in just about every facet of my life. My imagination was so rich, you would have been hard-pressed to convince me that I wasn’t Shera, Princess of Power. My ruffled blouse was really armor gleaming in the sunlight. My plastic yellow sword quivered with magical properties. And the back porch was a realm of possibilities and adventure.

It wasn’t just a game to pass a rainy Tuesday afternoon. For me, it was as real as playing with a puppy in the floor of my living room, or learning to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from my Mom, or tossing water balloons with my brother. In those moments of Creativity, I experienced what it was to be a super hero. I was a dancer on Broadway, a detective on the hunt for the truth, an acrobat in the circus, and a backup singer for the New Kids on the Block.

I carried that predilection for imagination into my adult life. I’ve never been afraid to put myself out there, silly or not. And my Creativity has carried me each time I sat down in front of my computer to write a blog.

When something like Creativity is such an important part of your daily life, its absence can be somewhat unsettling. It’s a rare occasion when my imagination is stunted, or blocked, or otherwise compromised. And when I’m unable to turn to my creative outlet for comfort, I feel incomplete. Ideas pile up in the corners of my brain and begin to collect dust. My light shines just a little less bright. And Creativity goes on the back burner.

There can be any number of reasons why Creativity and I go our separate ways: stress, anger, confusion, laziness, distraction. Life can get in the way. Sometimes I don’t even see it happening to myself. It takes a pointed question from someone in my life to hold a mirror up for me to see what’s happening in the land of Creativity.

And yesterday, my husband was the Holder of the Mirror.

When I said to him that I was thinking of taking a break from Abby Gabs, or maybe even quitting all together, his response was a loud and resounding, “WHY?” And in his infinite wisdom he said to me, “Abby, there’s nothing so important that it should take you away from your own Creativity. It’s part of who you are, and part of what I love about you. And NOTHING is so important that it should take creativity out of your life.”

And so I sat down in front of my computer today, and I closed my eyes, and focused. I called out to Creativity and woke him from a deep slumber. And I channeled my inner child and drew a portrait depicting how Creativity and I have rekindled our relationship.

And it hit me. Baby…I’m back.

**This post is dedicated to Brian: for being my solid-as-a-rock foundation, my soft place to land, my constant cheerleader, and above all else, my very best friend. Thanks for the encouragement, babe. You rock.

Friday Gab Bag (Oh Wait…It’s Saturday, Isn’t It?)

If you’re scratching your head at the title of this post, and wondering why I seem to have lost a day this week, there’s a very simple answer for that, dear readers. You see, I worked out with Dana again last night. And we did step aerobics.

 

Of COURSE I was smiling the whole time. Just like her. I swear.

When the whining workout was completed, I diligently checked my new handy-dandy heart rate monitor to see how many calories I burned.

And had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw this:

 

Yes, that says seven hundred and eight calories burned. No, I’m not kidding.

Hence why my first word today was “OW.”

Not only are my legs sore from the step-up, step-down, step-up-again motion, but my brain is FRIED. Which explains today’s blog title. And also, why I’m sure this blog will make no sense to anyone. Even me.

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There’s still PLENTY of time to tell me all about the book that kept you busy during the holidays. The linky is open until the end of January, and I’m always eager to hear about an enticing read! So click on over to my post titled “I Read, Therefore I Am,” read my own review of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and share your favorite book, all in one fell swoop!
Also, yesterday I reached out for a little help from my friends. If you have an idea, a funny story, a conversation starter, or a topic you’d like to see me cover here on Abby Gabs, now’s your chance to make your voice heard! Click on the tab above titled “Ask Abby Gabs,” and give me your best shot!!

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Here are three images from Pinterest that have made me laugh within the last 24 hours. (I totally stole this idea from Stephanie over at Love Life Project. She also has a hilarious NEW blog called Clay Baboons that you MUST MUST MUST read. It is fantastico.)

Ok, plug completed. Now let the hilarity ensue.

 

As soon as I can figure out how to rename my computer, I’m totally
going to do this. Because it’s HILARIOUS, people. HILARIOUS.

 

This picture is funny for 2 reasons. 1) this cat looks like my cat, Pip and
2) it’s REALLY cold outside here today and I would probably be on
the floor right beside him in a similar position.

 

Because alcohol is totally my motivation for jogging.
Seriously. Put a big ol’ bottle of red wine at the finish line
and I will beat ALL the skinny beotches there. For reals, yo.


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And finally—who watched the People’s Choice Awards?!?! Did you burst with glee when you saw THIS?!? :
I ♥ Nathan Fillion. I ♥ Castle and Firefly and Serenity and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and everything else he’s ever been in.
And I’d be lying if I said I was NOT voting every single day per his requests on Twitter.

What? It’s not cheating on Donnie Wahlberg if I Twitter-stalk other celebrities. Right?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
As it turns out, blogs with a ton of links and pictures in them, even if they aren’t cohesive or Photoshopped, takes just as much thought and time as the other kind. Brain is officially exhausted now. Must. Have. Coffee. And. Sleep. ZZZzzzzzz
The End.

 

An AbbyGabs Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess.

Just go with me, here. Ok?

This beautiful princess had everything she ever wanted. She lived in a big castle in a beautiful land. She had the love of her subjects, and the love of a handsome, robust prince. She wrote a beautiful blog every single day, and she loved sharing her creativity and humor with the world.

Please look closely at this photo. It’s hilarious.

One morning, the beautiful princess awoke to the sound of birdsong, stretched in her fluffy white bed, and smiled as she booted up her magical computer. As her fingers hovered over the keyboard, the princess took a deep breath and wondered what she would write about that day. Usually, ideas for her blog just popped right into her head. They were always funny, sarcastic, and witty, and never did the princess hesitate before clicking “Publish.”

But on this day, no ideas came to the princess. What would she write about? She thought and thought and thought, and still she could think of nothing to write about. She lit candles, practiced some Royal Yoga, drank a cup of coffee, paced back and forth…and after hours of pondering blog topics, the princess still felt as if her brain were void of all things funny.

The princess had never felt so sad. She sat down in her beautiful room in her beautiful castle, looked upon her magical computer and her beautiful, yet empty, blog, and cried.

The princess cried and cried and cried. What ever would she do? She MUST think of something to write about! But her brain was completely empty.

Suddenly, the princess heard a  sound, and as she looked up, she came face to face with her Fairy Blog Father.

“Don’t weep, Princess,” said the Fairy Blog Father. “You have nothing to be ashamed of, my dear.”

“But, Fairy Blog Father,” sobbed the princess, “I love my blog! And it must be funny! I have so many people who count on me for their daily chortle! Whatever will I do?”

The Fairy Blog Father patted the princess on the head and said, “Silly child. Do what you do! Write what you write! Create silly pictures and write what you know!”

And with that, “POOF!” The Fairy Blog Father disappeared.

The princess thought hard about what her Blog Father had said. She pondered and paced and wondered. And then her eyes landed upon her Regal Shelf of Disney Movies.

And an idea for a blog popped into her brain.

As the princess sat down at her magical computer and her fingers began to type away at the keys, she smiled. And hoped this was the last day she would suffer from writer’s block.