Happy Labor Day (to everyone in the US)! The last “official” day of summer, I guess. Back where I come from (there was a song in there, somewhere) today is the last that beaches and pools are open and all of the lifeguards get to go back to their normal lives. Me, I get a long weekend and an extra day off to do whatever I want.
What do you do when you get the magical bonus of a long weekend? Lounge around? Entertain family? What are you doing with your extra days off? The holidays are coming (Halloween is coming! I can’t wait!)
Why not make part of your bonus days off a little more productive. I’m not saying bury yourself in writing. That may or may not be the most productive use of your time. Many holidays have festivals and events that go along with them. This weekend, for example, was the Disneyland Half Marathon. Now, I didn’t get in on THOSE festivities, but I’m sure there are many other places to get into trouble if I look hard enough.
If you are going to be out and around on extra day off, why not try to catch some interesting conversation bits that you might not catch any other time? Grab details on settings that might be fleeting and elusive. Don’t forget, you may have your phone with you and you can send yourself a text message or you can use apps on a smart phone. Capture details that you might be able to use later. Snap a few pictures that might not be what you would ordinarily take wherever you are, something that might bring back the setting or might just be interesting. At the mall? Grab a shot of the food court or an interesting store. See a few interesting people (I live in a place where three town are renown for being Weird, Unusual and “between a rock and a weird place”, there are always interesting people). Homeless guy? Panhandler that has a unique angle (juggling maybe or break dancing). Capture it. File it away (organize your digital files so you can easily retrieve things).
You may not need the information now, but you never know when it might come in handy. You may, one day, need to put one of your characters in a family picnic or a beach party, you may want to set a backdrop to something.
Make use of whatever time you have and whatever place you may find yourself. If you can’t use it now, squirrel it away somewhere. You may, one day, be glad for the little details you ferreted out when you were enjoying your down time!
What do you listen to when you write? Do you listen to music? Or to white noise? The sea or windchimes or birdsong? Or to nothing at all?
This morning mine is Tartanic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2HMKpOYel4&feature=share&list=PL16EFDDBDFDFC7E2B) and Cast in Bronze (http://www.youtube.com/user/CarillonBellsMan)
Have you ever thought of changing up what you listen to? How would it change your writing? The tempo? The message?
This morning I’ve been playing around with music and creating my own mix to listen to over the next few weeks, and I’ve found that I can create in myself differnt moods even within my writing that kind of go along with what I’m listening to. I know it plays a role in how the words flow and how I lose myself in the writing, but I hadn’t realized that I can influence myself with what I’m listening to.
I’ve started taking one minute videos every (okay, almost every) day of something that strikes me. Some mornings it is the birds at sunrise, sometimes the cicadas at sunset. Others a moment caught when I’m out doing something with my family. I have my phone with me always and I capture moments in time that I think maybe I would like to be able to call back to mind easily later. I use these videos much like music on my iPod or on YouTube, to call a certain mood or frame of mind back to now.
How do you use the tools that you have at hand? How could you? I know in my life, I’m busy enough that I may not take the time at any given moment to capture the words that I maybe could capture but I capture a few words (sometimes on audio on my phone, sometimes as a note, sometimes just as a picture stolen in a second) and call back the memory later, when I have just a little more time.
There are shortcuts and tools all around us, what music can you capture today? How can you make your words dance?
Life has a way of getting away from you. I am living proof of this. Between doctors appointments and health concerns, Kids, vacations, work, cleaning and an occasional nap, life seems to take over my life.
SO, I guess, today what I’m saying is as much to remind myself as to remind everyone else that it’s really important to take care of yourself mentally as well as taking care of everyone and everything in your life physically. It might be way over stated and way over cliché, but if you don’t take time (even a little time, even stolen moments hiding in the bathroom at work) to nurture your mind (reading or writing, messaging yourself with your phone about things to write about, or better yet writing about them) you will quickly burn out and not be able to handle nearly as much of the other stuff either.
Find what nurtures your creativity, and run with it.
Take time to take time.
And when you can’t take time, invent time to take. Five minutes while the coffee is brewing, fifteen minutes while you are walking the dog, or even during your commute. You can call yourself and leave yourself voice mail, record a voice memo, or use the voice recognition feature on your technology to record and translate a note. Even a few words at a time are often enough to keep yourself sharp and start to meet your deadlines (the ones you set on yourself, or the ones imposed upon you).
Remember, this matters. It matters because it matters to you. It’s no one’s business but your own what you do in the bathroom…. and just think of what you can do with five or even ten minutes!
Write a haiku
describe the sounds around you
Better yet, capture the conversations you hear around you! (this is awesome to do in the bathroom because people kind of let there guards down).
You never know when you will have the occasion to be able to go back and realize that you can use whatever things you snatched in your five minutes here or there to add spice to your work!
It’s been a busy week for me. I know that I end up saying that most weeks, but this week was busier than most at my day job. I had a class to teach and a lot of busy work to get done. I’m three days from being able to claim I wrote a poem a day, every day, for NaPoWriMo. Not all stress is bad stress! By yesterday I was almost completely burned out on day job and really needing to find a way to center myself and get my muse back on.
I took a longish lunch (who knew longish was really a word!) and went to a local indie bookstore that is always good to spend time in and soak up the atmosphere. I rarely buy any books there, sometimes one of the eclectic journals to write in, sometimes an artsy fartsy pen, but the books I end up promising myself for later.
The floors are well worn wood. The shelves are randomly placed. The stairs to the second floor are wide and winding and the tread shows the marks of thousands upon thousands of visitors. There are backpacks (locally made) and gypsy skirts hanging, cases of local artist art work and Buddhist and Hindu statues. And the incense that fills the air adds to the feel. The ambiance of the place is as much what I go for. And it works. It never fails to help me find the place in myself where I can be still and connect with myself and remember why I am who I am. Why I write. It quietly calls to my muse.
This is how I find the time to connect with myself.
What is yours? Find the place, your back yard, a park, a flower garden or beside some running water, where you can connect with yourself. Somewhere that you can go (even a somewhere within yourself if you can find the stolen time to go there) that can replenish your soul. I know that, as writers we are supposed to be able to take all of those stolen moments and use them productively to write. This is especially true when we are busy writers with other busy lives. Nurture yourself and your writing will show the results.
But sometimes the most productive thing you can do for yourself is find that place and go there to nurture yourself. Sometimes, it can be a place where you escape to do your writing. When that is the case, it is the best of both worlds. But when you can’t use it as your writing space, escape there whenever the need arises. Capture the look and feel. Take pictures or video. We all have phones with us all the time; why not make use of it? Use the pictures on your vision board or your computer as a gentle reminder.
Be gentle with yourself, fair writer, and do whatever it takes to keep yourself on this wonderfully, sometimes stressful, magical road we find yourselves walking together!