Writing is hard work, not magic. It begins with deciding why you are writing and whom you are writing for. What is your intent? What do you want the reader to get out of it? What do you want to get out of it. It’s also about making a serious time commitment and getting the project done.”
– Suze Orman, finance editor and author.
Serious time commitment. Getting the project done. Talk about a couple of freckle-rattlin’ phrases!
Are there times when those words taste like vinegar to you too? But they’re true, huh? I think of it this way: A writer’s best friend isn’t the Internet. It’s not a short-cut, a quick fix or even a thesaurus. (This following gem of galatic insight will work a lot better if you can scare up a drum roll in your head. Ready? Okay.) A writer’s best friend is – drum roll, please: Restlessness.
That’s right. Restlessness. Let me explain.
I know, I know. “I don’t have time to rest or schedule any down time” you insist. “I’ve got too much to do!” You are TOO BUSY to take a break. Type A Attila the Hun personalities can raise your hands now. You know who you are. And you need to change. If not for your own sake, then for the sake of those who have to live and work with you. Here’s why, first for the writer and then for everyone else (you know, normal people who aren’t busily cranking out the next Great American Novel):
For the writer, overwork or a stressed-out mind often manifests itself in The Dreaded Writer’s Block. So listen up. Hitting the block wall may be your mind’s way of saying, “Give it a rest. Take a break. Recharge. Disconnect. Let the creative juices have a chance to rejuvenate.” They will return if you resist the urge to run them ragged. Promise.
For non-writers in a culture that worships workaholics and Attila the Hun types and doles out brownie points based on exhaustion and 24/7 work skeds, lighten up. That’s right. Get a grip. That old adage about, “I’d rather burn out than rust out”? Well, whoop-de-doo. Because you know what? Either way, you’re out. So listen up again.
Ever notice how summer seems to slip through your fingers, as mercurial as quicksilver? One Friday in June and it’s the Last Day of School. You blink. And it’s September.
We usually wind up scratching our heads, trying to figure out what in the world happened to summer? How’d it fade so fast? Where did the time go? How Good it all was.
A few weeks back I decided this summer will be different. So I set some goals. Sat down and wrote out a list. Checked it twice. And clipped it to the fridge.
I listed several hikes I want to take before the snows fly. Destinations and places I want to visit before the Northwest turns soggy again. I included people I want to touch base with – folks I haven’t seen or heard from in awhile.
And I set a summer reading goal in tandem with the local library’s Adult Summer Reading Program: 100 books/audio books in 12 weeks. (Yeah, I know. It’s a pretty lofty goal. That’s why I want to pursue it. That, and I find that reading widely and often makes me a better writer.)
Per the summer reading program, books have to be read in a wide variety of pre-designated categories. Non-fiction. Sci Fi/Fantasy. Young Adult. First book in a new series. A book by an author using a pseudonym. A cookbook or food memoir. A book by a local author. A favorite children’s book (I have like a million or so.) A re-read (another million). And so on.
It’s been a challenge, especially since some of the genres are outside those which I typically gravitate toward. But what fun!! I’m learning a lot. Meeting tons of new friends. Getting fresh inspiration and new ideas. Woo-hoo!
Some favorites so far, in no particular order: The Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, and just about anything by Walt Morey.
It’s taken some creative juggling and rearranging, but I’m almost half way to my goal. And summer is yet young. And promising.
How ’bout you? What’s on your “fridge list” this summer?