Monday, April 19, 2010

When I'm Not Writing...



After a particularly harsh period in my writing journey, I decided that I needed some time off. Last week, I didn’t write at all. Not a single word. And it taught me a few things about myself:

1. I used to have a lot more time on my hands. Once upon a time, I wasn’t writing, or thinking about writing and I had an incredible amount of empty time. Returning to that this week felt weird, and sometimes I wandered around the house trying to determine what to do with myself.

2. I can only read, and watch television, so much. I’ve drifted through an entire season of CSI, a couple of movies, and an episode of Castle. I also devoured 5 books, but finally got bored with that too.

3. Depression is, well, depressing, and boredom doesn’t help. I’m used to having so much on my To Do list that I’m overwhelmed. This week, I deliberately didn’t keep a list and didn’t agree to do anything. Hell, I didn’t even clean the house until I got so tired of watching television that I had to have SOMETHING to do (voluntarily washing dishes tells you how truly desperate I was…).

4. When I’m bored, I organize. There have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve been incapacitated for a week or more while recuperating, and usually found myself dreaming up ways to reorganize or redecorate my house. This week, in an effort to feel productive, I spent time organizing materials for the raffle baskets for the upcoming HOD Luncheon, redid my daily planner, and cleaned out files on my computer.

5. No matter how much you might wish it, the characters in your head just NEVER SHUT UP! And this is the crux of the matter. I almost wish they would be quiet, so I’d have an excuse not to write anymore. But they won’t. I hope that is a sign I’m a real writer and that with time and hard work I can reconnect with my creativity on a level that is fulfilling and productive.

I haven’t started writing again yet. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, or maybe next week. Right now, I’m simply playing with the characters in my head, just like I did the first time my very own characters showed up. Not characters from someone else’s books, but my own. And I’m also trying to accustom myself to the idea that I’m about to start a book for which I have no avenues for submission, no ideas what will happen to it when I’m done. It’s scary, intriguing, and necessary. Here’s hoping I learn whatever lesson the universe is trying to teach me. ;)

So tell me, what immersion tactic do you choose when you are “avoiding”? Television? Reading (usually my diversion of choice, but for some reason wasn’t working for me this week)? Scrubbing grout?

Angel

Coming Soon!
On Friday, April 23, author Cara Summers makes a visit to the Playground!

24 comments:

MJFredrick said...

Lately, sewing. It's productive, it's instant (sorta) gratification and it's creative. I'm absolutely stuck on a story that I've been wanting to write for years and I'm tired of twisting my brain in knots to come up with the solution!

Playground Monitor said...

Welcome to my world, only the characters won't talk. Preparing for my move last fall gave me something to do and then the move and unpacking kept me busy for a while. There's only me so cleaning doesn't take long at all, and I don't make messes so I can go long stretches between cleaning. I'm beginning to be able to focus long enough to read one book in a week (used to be able to read a category romance in a day). There's only so much TV I can watch at a stretch before I get restless. I've tried a few crafts and lost interest. I've thought about pulling out the sewing machine and then never did.

Being like this just sucks and I really feel for you. I wish I had a magic solution for us both.

I did find out this weekend that hiking is a great way to burn off restless energy. You can't let your mind roam or you'll trip over a big root in the path and risk getting hurt. But my poor foot can only take so much hiking.

Jean said...

As long as the characters are talking in your head, you are writing. I think you are the type who has to have something tangible in your hand to prove you've been productive. I learned the hard way that if I don't sometimes clean out a closet and let them talk to me, I'll end up with about fifty thousand words too many.

M.V.Freeman said...

How do I avoid television--cleaning my house, working out, and ummm playing on the computer (facebook and the like). This weekend I planted tomatoes.

Oh and naps. Love them.

I have to be careful, this is when I find new hobbies. *sigh*

Instigator said...

I waste time on the Disney boards. This usually involves planning a vacation where I can waste more time...just doing fun stuff with my family.

I've been reading a lot lately which has been nice. For awhile I just couldn't fit it in and/or settle down long enough to enjoy a book. Apparently, I've come full circle and I know you will too. :-)

Instigator

Problem Child said...

Right now, I'm unpacking, stripping wallpaper, putting together bookshelves, etc, etc, etc...

I'm between books at the moment, but the people in my head won't shut up. (That's probably why I put the bookshelf together wrong and had to take it apart...sigh). Characters are fighting for dominance, as the strongest will get written next!

And if you're tired of organizing things at your house, you can always come to mine.

Angel said...

Ah, sewing. The only thing I can sew are straight lines. I've done curtains, that's about it. All the clothes I tried to make never fit right, no matter how many adjustments I made to the patterns, so I finally gave up. :)

Angel

Angel said...

PM, you're welcome to come clean my house if the hours get too long! :) We mess it up regularly.

Where is that magic solution when you really need one? I'm resigning myself to a lot of hard work and starting over in something new. Not what I wanted, but its the only path I can see right now. Luckily I, and you, have lots of supportive friends who won't let us give up. Right?!?!

Angel

Angel said...

Jean, I so agree with you there! I definitely look for something tangible, the results, in order to feel accomplishment. Otherwise, I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels.

Is there a cure for that? :)

Angel

Angel said...

Naps!!! The best avoidance tactic ever, and they allow me to stay up later at night to continue avoiding my wip with late night tv. Love naps...

Angel

Angel said...

Sorry, Insti, I totally don't get the Disney boards thing, but the idea of vacation planning might be good. Maybe if I'm avoiding I should research my settings, since they are usually places I want to visit. Hmmm.... might have to take this under consideration.

Angel

Angel said...

PC, just be proud that you put the bookshelf together at all. Not a job I would tackle alone!

Angel

Autumn Jordon said...

When I want to be mindless, it's working with numbers. If I read a book or watch movies, I start thinking about how I'd write the story diffently. If I walk or garden or clean my characters are right there with me. So I grab a SUDOKU puzzle and go totally left brain.

Vivi Andrews said...

Usually when I'm avoiding writing, I'm too restless to read. I go to the movies (gotta get out of the house), reorganize my books (which is my approach to cleaning the house), or go for long drives where I invariably end up talking to the characters who stowed away in the back of my brain.

PM's Mother said...

Why is it that women think they have to be busy all of the time? Not so! I am fortunate enough to be able to drive to the beach, sit in my car or on a bench and just gaze at the ocean. It is very calming. I always have binoculars in the car so that I can check out the birds, the horizon for shrimp boats or B_I_G ships coming in to port. Sometimes I see big ships going out to sea. Also try what you probably did as a kid...gaze at the clouds and see "things" in them. Fun! All this clears your mind.

Autumn Jordon said...

I like your advice PM's Mother. I actually took a stroll around the farm today and snapped some wonderful pictures of the flowers and passing cotton candy clouds. I made my characters stay inside this time.

Peggy Webb said...

In Spring, my answer is always gardening! My flower gardens are spectacular, and constantly beckon me away from the computer. Fortunately, deadlines keep me more or less on track. I try not feel guilty when I sneak out to gather roses or simply sit on the porch swing and listen to the birds sing.

Jane said...

Watching TV and reading are my methods of avoiding. I also waste time by surfing the net and shopping for deals on eBay.

Kathy said...

Research. ;) My favorite way to piddle and I can do it for hours and hours and hours... I'm like the Energizer Bunny with this.

Movies are a great escape. Y'all know the one that comes to mind. A healer of the soul, it is.

Angel, go ahead and research some places online. Research houses. Find a house design you really like that lends itself to your characters. Go visual. You're a visual writer. It'll be fun and you'll be killing two birds with one stone and will be able to shout 'no birds were harmed during this piddle session'.

Most of all, give yourself permission to emerge from your cocoon. Be the caterpilar morphing into the beautiful butterfly. Soon your writing will be flying free and the page will reflect your beauteous vision.

Okay. Watch Phantom already... ;)

Debra Webb said...

Oh my gosh, Angel, I know just how you feel! Last week, for the first time in more than ten years, I had NO deadline. It felt...weird. I planted shrubs. Cut the grass. Cleaned out the garage. Helped build a set of stairs from the 2nd floor to the attic-turned-third-floor. It was all so strange. But it was also nice and "normal." I remembered what it was like just to be. This week I'm doing the same--just renovating, playing, being "me." Next week it's back to the grind...the one that's "really" me!

Angel said...

Oh dear, how can anyone turn to numbers... no matter how bored they are?!?! Numbers are my idea of h*ll. When Instigator went through a Soduko phase a couple of years back, I just shook my head in puzzlement. Give me words anyday. Oh, maybe I should try one of those find-a-word puzzles. My grandmother does those all the time!

Angel

Angel said...

I get the whole gardening thing, and yet I don't. I kind of view it as housework... neverending. And I don't keep flowers alive very well. There, I said it. I couldn't have been prouder this year when I walked out into the yard and saw the peonies, which I moved off the fence a couple of years ago, have finally bloomed. Yay!!!

Angel

Angel said...

PM's Mother--you mean you can't tell us why we feel like we need to always be doing something? I've actually been trying to work on this, because I've noticed my mother dealing with the same thing (why is it we can often see things in others first?). She works hard all day, comes home and takes care of her family, then feels guilty for piling up in the chair to watch television. Why? After all that, the least she deserves is some time off her feet. Actually, she deserves a massage, pedicure, and dinner cooked for her, but... :)

So I'm trying to remind myself that I don't have to do something constantly. Or since I'm not really a person to be busy 24/7, I'm really trying to remind myself not to feel guilty about it.

Thanks, ladies, for all your input today!!!


Angel

Smarty Pants said...

I'm feeling guilty. I haven't been officially avoiding, but I haven't actually written in quite a while. The day job is sucking my brain out like a leech and leaving me with only the capacity to work out, eat dinner, and collapse like a blob on the couch at the end of the day. I still haven't quite figured out how to change my process with work at full blast.

Plus, I've been having lots of "what's the damn point?" moments which doesn't exactly encourage me to jump onto the computer and steal moments away to write. I'm going to call this a 'plotting' phase.