Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to Get Your Groove Back...



I'm taking a break from writing. Yes, that means my writing life, my circle of creativity is feeling much more on track. I *am* writing, so I actually have something to take a break from!
As many of you know, since graduating, I've been, well, how do I put this? Floaty. Not focused. Basically I feel as I've been recruited into a lifestyle of "Ladies Who Lunch." I really haven't been doing much except talking or thinking about writing, socializing with friends and family, going for walks with the dog, organizing events, trips, household chores, but not focusing on my writing like I have in the past.

Maybe a few of you are thinking I'm sort of an unreliable narrator here as I have written poems and submitted my work since graduating, but honestly, it has not been with much intent. It's been random acts of poetry. It's been hit or miss days.

I'm going to try to explain the various stages and steps that have allowed for my writing groove to return in case others have gone through, are going through, or will go through a stage like this.
Here's a few of the ways that have helped me get my groove back.

1) Accepting the void, but getting past it...

I've been trying to be kind to myself for not "unfocusedness," but I've also been trying to recreate my writing life.

I knew I wanted to give myself a break since I have worked hard in school, but I knew this break could last a short eternity if I wasn't careful and honestly, as a Capricorn, extensive break times can be hard to do.
I'm not all work and no play, but I am not really a play, play, play kind of gal either. I welcome rest and relaxation, but I also need to have some sort of "work" happening in my life to relax from--whether it's school, or focused writing, or a pt job. There needs to an "other" or I'm just too unscheduled. Like a toddler with too much room to roam, I will spend hours sticking things in the light socket, give me some boundaries though, and I will stack blocks, create the next poem.

2) Thinking about things--

or as my daughter would say when she was three "I'm finking about fings." I guess I needed to think about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. It sounds a silly, it sounds very 1992 when I graduated from the UW, but leaving PLU left me with a void that surprised me and this odd question-- now what? I can see why people move on from degree to degree because it does fill the empty space grad school leaves behind.

So, I've been thinking about what exactly I want to work on-- novels, essays, poems, children's books, articles-- and the overwhelming answer has been yes. Yes to all. The upcoming new years offers a nice time just allow a new game plan to come about, to write and write and see what happens.

3) The Artist Way Action Plan has reappeared--

Surprisingly, this is strange chart that you create while doing Artist's Way has been a sort of touchstone for me. It's a way to see bigger goals broken down. It doesn't just say "Publish award-winning novel," but under daily goals it can say "Write 1000 words today," (or whatever your goal is). It takes the bigger ideas and put them into babysteps, like a What About Bob way to live: Babysteps into the elevator... We move slowly, but we get there.

4) Sick and tired of feeling/sounding like a wannabe--

It's amazing what a little self-humiliation can do. Honestly, I'm so tired of hearing myself *talk* about writing instead of actually doing it, it's made me devote entire days to writing and revising. It's made me pull essays out of out thin air just to have something to submit that isn't poetry. It's made me have to get out of my comfort zone and feel a little *uncomfortable,* submitting to new genres to new venues. My tribe's unrefined motto of: If you're not going to sh*t, then get off the pot.
Do something. Do anything! Okay. I get it.

5) Listening to New Letters Podcasts on NPR--

They interview writers. No, they interview people who are writers and it reminds me that this (writing or not writing) is a choice I'm making. These people/writers do not have superpowers, they are ordinary folks who work hard and write. Dedication. Perseverance. Persistence. A little luck. A little timing. A little more dedication to their goal. Hard work and persistence. Some have degrees, some don't. Some have large vocabularies, some don't. Some are funny, some aren't. Some had fabulous childhoods, some didn't. There's a lot of everything and lot of room for others. So, I'm inspired by these people and when I hear them talk, I want to write.

So, there it is. The details of how I slid back into my writing life. I'll keep you posted on the ups and downs of it (hopefully, more ups than downs) and let you know what's working and what's not.

I think much of it is realizing that without my writing, I feel a little off-kilter, like our Christmas that despite its beauty was leaning a little heavy to the right. It eventually fell (but I caught it - as well as hung up on Jeannnine Gailey who I was talking to at the time).
I tend to catch the things that fall around me--Christmas trees, my writing, others--and I've learned that what ends on the floor can be fixed, a tree can be retrimmed, as can a writing life. And a friend can be recalled to let know that everything is okay.

1 comment:

Nin Andrews said...

Oh man, I think when I think I am writing, I am usually not writing nearly as much as when I don't think I am. And I love those days when I never make it to the computer . . . But I guess I wouldn't want to overdo them. So I'm not so sure it's healthy to be too intense if you want to spend your whole life doing it. ????

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