Yes, I’m still alive!

It’s not laziness, or even lack of organization that is to blame. Seven weeks of time just slipped by.

The last week of November through early December John and I were on the move, hiking on the North Island and traveling with our daughter. Somehow, moving around truly interrupted my focus and my writing. Yes, I know, this is supposed to be a travel blog, which means I am, by default, moving around. I probably need to solve that issue.

At any rate, upon returning to Michigan in December (because why would we stay in New Zealand for the summer?), I had a grocery list of life things to tackle, including all that Christmas stuff. I love Christmas- the tree, the stockings, the presents, but every year I unpack the stuff and then I repack. I cook and bake for long hours a lot, I rush to the post office, and I run back to the store numerous times in one week. Lots of craziness. What’s wrong with that picture? Exactly, I had no time to write.

I did enjoy all three of my wonderful children and their significant others and visiting with three of my siblings. And this was a great Christmas in which we ate too much bad food and watched too many movies. But, family time almost always equals no writing time.

By the time I did find time to write, I was in writer’s block in a very bad kind of way. I had absolutely zero, nada, zilch motivation to write a darn thing. Oh sure, in the past I have hit a day where I couldn’t finesse some piece of writing to my liking but I never felt completely unmotivated.

I told myself the world hasn’t stopped spinning and who will notice if you don’t rewrite that story, start a new draft, or add to your blog. Oh, I dragged my body to the computer and forced myself to meet some deadlines, in a joyless, resentful kind of way. I rearranged my office and now I have all my blank journals (16 to be exact) in one place. I forced myself to the Plymouth library to check out a ton of picture books and then the pile sat in a corner until past due and I felt guilty enough to do something about it.

In fact, this whole situation caused a lot of guilt- I’m not writing, I’m not submitting (at least not with enthusiasm and purpose), I’m not networking, and I’m not blogging. I continued to waste time. Suddenly, the basement needed reorganizing, and there’s always laundry. I spent more time thinking about people in my life that have pissed me off and need a good spanking than I did about story ideas.

The New Year came with all its shame about how to reinvent the new 64-year old you! My email in-box seemed to be filled with all kinds of programs promising a better, brighter future for just $289. I went through the motions of the usual goal-setting, not really believing I would actually do any of the things I said I would do. I even got a new Bullet Journal.

It did not take long for me to start down that road with the billboards advertising “Give up loser!” This is the danger zone writers the world over dread. It’s the rabbit hole similar to the one in Alice in Wonderland. Any good ideas or moments of motivation are discounted or disappear, and another day spins by, and that writing thing seems to be vanishing fast. As a result, I found myself saying yes to various things in order to feel some forward motion. Webinars, online classes, intensives, writing groups.

Today I signed up for a free webinar on “Your 7 Chakras and how Manifest your true Potential”. I listened to most of it- honestly, the internet would not cooperate and I got tired of reloading the session, but it actually was quite good. According to the free program, I’m blocked. It’s all that past anger I carry, and my father’s rage, and I have to get through my own outrage to the courage. This is all likely true, however, the deeper truth is I have now managed to avoid writing for another hour. See how that works?

One writer told me she stepped away for a year and a half, and likened it to taking a sabbatical. Writing every day for three hours is something only Stephen King does, and he did cocaine the entire time he was writing Cujo. Maybe my process includes breaks, and sabbaticals and downtime.

By some miracle, this unscheduled break caused me to get clarity about what I am trying to do. I came to realize that guilt won’t make me write and just prolongs the agony of not creating. Forcing myself to write doesn’t work. Deadlines are helpful, but usually cause stress, and real creativity never happens under stress. My best chance is just trusting myself and letting my sense of creating lead the way.

Just like any passion, if you step away for a bit, the fire dies down. In the end, I am responsible for rekindling that flame and remembering my reasons for doing this. And it’s actually a good thing if my brain goes on vacation for a while. My brain needs to play more, wander more, and just relax every single day.

3 thoughts on “Yes, I’m still alive!

  1. I’m a great believer in “sabbaticals” of any duration or frequency. They’re essential whether you’re a writer, a scientist, an actor, a teacher, or in any other profession that requires creativity or innovation.

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