Thursday, August 5, 2010

laugh it off

There is nothing as torturous to a writer as block. The very word gives me chills. Yet, it happens to all of us after a while. Sitting, staring at a blank page and trying to write, crossing out words or deleting entries, writing a new sentence, crossing it out, looking to your dog for the answer but he just sighs, reading the news for inspiration, but all of it just seems so bleak. The page stays blank.

One way I’ve learned to overcome the block is simply to not write. Ha, not the answer you were looking for I bet. But it’s what works for me. I consider my blocks to be observation periods, periods of reflection and meditation. I often find myself meditating during this time (I meditate myself right to sleep often, but right or wrong, I call it meditation). Recently, I read an interesting passage in a novel by TC Boyle that brought up the physiological difference between a genuine and disingenuous smile. I researched this bit, and found that the muscles that react when a person is genuinely happy cause the wrinkles around the eyes—the over-Botoxed area some folks fret over is, in fact, the portion of the face that betrays genuine joy.

This interesting bit of information led me to read on about how this smile is often born, and to no surprise, a genuine smile often comes as the result of laughter. Gelotology, which is the study of laughter and its impact on the body, suggests that laughter can be both emotionally and physiologically freeing—no surprise there.

Back to writer’s block. It’s OK to have, but the frustration often stems from an inability to move forward, and as the term ‘block’ implies, there is something that needs freed to move beyond it. So from writer’s block to meditation to gelotology, where are you going here, Jen? I’m going to tie it all together, promise. Ready?

After my clicking, researching, reading and satisfying my fit of exponential curiosity, I found an exercise in meditation that was borne from gelotology and is said to free the mind of repetitive thoughts. The exercise I tried is here. To be fair, I don’t think this practice will be a regular occurrence for me, but laughter meditation did seem to loosen something in my mind, something that seemed lodged there for quite a few excruciating days. After laughing disingenuously for a few minutes, I began to find it funny that I was even trying this silliness, which made me laugh genuinely. My dog gave me a wary look (he was the only one around as I conducted this experiment) and this made me laugh further. By the time I was done laughing (ten minutes short of the twenty minutes described in the exercise (I didn’t stretch)), I felt the same exhilaration that I feel after a good workout, and I felt the clarity that comes on those glorious days I wake up, sit down with my coffee and pump out twenty pages in a sitting. Who knew? Thanks Boyle—always dropping those fun little nuggets in your work t hat make me research something I never would have otherwise. 


Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...