Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Things To Do Instead (of Writing)
Not that I haven’t been writing; I’ve been busier than ever since my SCBWI conference switched from physical to digital. There was and still is a LOT of writing that goes into getting the word out when there are big changes. And if you’re looking for a ton of webinars from industry professionals and authors in children’s writing and illustration, then there’s still plenty of time to register for wik’20 2.0.
See that there? That’s primarily marketing writing and there’s a big difference between that kind of writing and the children’s story-telling I love. I’m finding it difficult to immerse myself in an imaginary world when the real world I’m living in is infinitely more critical and compelling.
And I wondered if you might be a lot like me, with these sudden big chunks of time. I start off determined and hopeful and busy! All those ideas, crammed into files in my desk, just brimming with possibilities—I can do this! But I end distracted, despondent, and drained—without ever writing a word.
So finally, I gave myself permission to ignore that “should” voice and not write what I didn’t feel like writing.
I’ve had a bit of practice with giving myself permission to not write through difficult times so honestly, my finally came after the second day. And just to be clear, I admire the heck out of those who can write, who can shut off the now and go to some far away field of imagination. Some people cope with difficulties by being super creative and productive but I’m not one of ‘em. Maybe you aren’t, either. So here’s what I do instead and maybe these Things To Do Instead will work for you, too:
READ. My youngest brother texted me that he was reading War and Peace (WHAT?); I’m reading Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (courtesy of my library e-books and YAY! for that service). Reading a well-written book, whether it’s a classic, an NYT best-seller about Botswana, or your friend’s self-published fantasy, will always be a great escape (and a great learning tool for writers).
WALK. My oldest son calls to check in when he’s walking. So I’ll walk, too. It may be back and forth across my deck and look a lot like pacing, but you get the point. I feel better when I exercise and get endorphins pumping through my system. (Even if I’m arguing with my oldest son whilst doing so.)
TALK. It wasn’t until the world closed that I realized how many activities this stay-at-home writer had on a regular basis that got me out of the house, socializing with the human race. So now, I call a choir friend, a lunch buddy, a neighbor. Or I attend Zoom meetings. If you’ve resisted video communications, this is probably the perfect time to get on board when half the population is learning something new. A year from now, people will be like, “You don’t know how to use Zoom?” (And they’ll roll their eyes.)
DOABLE-IN-A-DAY. The thing about fiction writing is that it’s so open-ended; there’s always more edits, more revisions, more whatever. And the payoff may be years away! I need something I can finish, something that gives me a feeling of accomplishment now. Like a blog post for The Muffin, or cleaning out the Inbox. Or maybe even something not-writing but tangible.
Yesterday, I moved the curtains from the dining room to the office and the curtains in the office to the dining room. Oh my word, I was downright giddy! (And it looked so fabulous so thank you, Home Town.)
BE GRATEFUL. Even when the world feels like it’s crashing all around you, there are still moments of kindness and joy, love and laughter out there, and I’m thankful when an unexpected moment comes my way. And maybe you can bring that joy or laughter to someone you love. Perhaps you’ll write ‘em.
Or maybe you won’t write anything at all. And that’s fine, too.
~Cathy C. Hall