I find the most effective way to get somewhere, to learn something, to see something, is indirectly. A friend often reminds me that the best way to get the full impact of a star is to look at the spot next to the star, not right at it. This seems to apply in most areas of my life, I've discovered. Whenever I want to write, if I tackle that head on - setting aside a time, sitting down at the computer, pulling out some notes to start with - I feel two things: pressure and numbness. I'm resentful that I'm forcing myself to write, and I'm bored. A sure fire way to shut out any glimmer of inspiration (note how I'm subtley including some star imagery here?!)
So what do I do when I'm stuck and I'm not writing (something I've been 'not doing' for several months now)? I identify what it is that's holding me back. I ask myself: what is pressing on me that's stealing all my enthusiasm for the one thing that truly gives my life meaning because it's the purest expression of me? Lately, that thing would be the loft in my apartment. It's supposed to be a bedroom, but there's no railing, so I've curtained off a corner for the bed and have thrown all manner of boxes, bags, and suitcases up there, along with all my clothes and shoes. Papers and pictures are spilling out everywhere; I know I'm saving printouts of information from the internet I don't need; it's really a mess. It makes me unhappy every time I have to go up there, which is every day as that's where the 'closet' is.
Last night, finally, fed up with myself for my procrastination and inertia, I put on some disco music, stomped up there with a bunch of garbage bags, and went through one-third of the boxes. It took about three hours, I hated every minute of it, and I sneezed about a thousand times, but when I was finished I had three full bags of trash (including old pics and cards from an ex-boyfriend I didn't know I had and was happy to be rid of -- the pics/cards and the boyfriend), and I felt good. I felt like a grown up. I felt somewhat in charge of my environment. I felt capable and calm.
THE BEST PART: what you'll find when you do this, just like I did: notes to yourself about writing ideas and projects, bits of stories and poems you never followed up on, old journals you find yourself getting lost in reading again, from which you can pull sentences out whole because they're so good (who knew you could write like that?), pictures that inspire you, memories...Need I say more?
In other words - the writing self floods back in, the lights go back on, the engine roars to life. Take it one step at a time as it's easy to get overwhelmed.
SO WHAT'S BUGGING YOU?
Is it a call you haven't returned? A note you were supposed to write? A box (or boxes) to unpack like mine? A story idea you've been meaning to write down? Pick something and spend five minutes doing it. If you call the person and they aren't there, leave a message. It counts. Unpack one box. Straighten one drawer. Throw the laundry in the washer. Use each of these as an entrance to the writing inside you. Look around. Pay attention to your senses. Listen to your thoughts. Watch the images that pop up in your head. Take a few moments afterwards and write down what came up. You may not use it now but you will later, when you find the post it you wrote it on as you clean out the drawer.
You never know where something will lead you. Even the most mundane task can yield brilliance (stars again!). You think you're doing the laundry and realize you're really writing a poem in your head about your grandmother's sheets that you must have washed at least a hundred times. Anything can be an opportunity for expression. Take it.