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On Friday, I had a bit of a meltdown. It had been a hectic week, I was jealous about the successes my writer friends were posting on their Facebook pages, and when someone honked at me for no reason on the ride home, it was the last small indignity to push me over the edge.

I had been sitting in the downstairs bathroom for about 10 minutes with the lights out, feeling sorry for myself, when my husband poked his head in the doorway and astutely said that this did not seem like normal behavior, and that he had deduced that probably something was bothering me.

Obviously there was more than one problem on my mind that evening, but one of the things that came out in my tearful rant in the bathroom was that I was in the worst stretch of writing my current story: unsure of the ending, doubtful of the characters, hearing the disdainful voice in my head that pops up to suggest I scrap the whole thing. I knew taking time to get productive writing done would make me feel better, but all my inner negativity made it harder than usual to get my butt in the chair and do it.

So I wrote in the bathroom while Andrew made dinner. Silence is good. Privacy is good. Even darkness was good that night (that’s right, I sat in my powder room for 25 minutes typing by the glow of the laptop only!). I realized that in the depths of my self-conscious stretch, what I needed in order to function creatively was to feel like no one would be able to tell if what I was writing was bad. Being in a quiet space where no one could ask me how it was going (or know not to ask by my expression) helped ease my nerves. In the dark, I could even, oddly, pretend the room was truly empty–that I wasn’t even there–and use that to confuse my inner critic into silence. I felt a little silly, but by dinnertime, I had almost 400 words written.

Tonight I’ll be back in my usual spot for writing, but I’m filing away the weird trick of literally shutting myself away and turning off any other distractions–even the lights.

Let me know if you try a dark writing session, or if you have other weird rituals that help you shake off a block!

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