Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fuel for a Weary Soul

As writers,we are expected to show up at the page every day, just like any other job. If the plumber or the lawyer or the roofer only showed up “when the muse strikes” -- they’d all be fired. So will we. Even if it’s our second job, and we love the “day job”, too -- we still need the dailiness in order to be both professional and productive.

However, we get tired,too. We have the right and the need to take breaks and vacations, and refuel both body and soul. When we plan it, the way we would plan any vacation from work, or take a day or so for “mental health” to do something fun, it serves us well.

If we don’t write because “we don’t get around to it” or life “gets in the way”, it creates a cycle of sabotage. The longer you stay away from the page WITHOUT planning it, just letting it slide, the harder it is to get back both into the draft’s rhythm and your own.

But when we’re weary -- of everything, not just writing -- how do we replenish the soul?

What interests you?
Look at the events calendar in the paper. What, in your area, is going on that interests you? You don’t have the excuse of “not having time”. Pick something that catches your eye, especially if it’s a new experience, and go! Give yourself the chance to experience something out of your regular routine. See where that leads. Was it completely satisfying unto itself? Or do you want more? And then see how you can fit it into your life. If we want it badly enough -- whether it’s writing or anything else -- we find a way to make it work. If you “don’t have time” -- it means you don’t WANT to have time badly enough.

What soothes you?
What makes you feel special and pampered? Getting your hair or nails done? Lying in a scented bath? A walk on the beach? Yoga? Meditation? Pick a treat for yourself and schedule it. It’s not what someone else thinks you SHOULD do -- it’s what you WANT to do. One person’s hot yoga session is another person’s lying on the couch reading a book. It’s whatever YOU want.

What fuels you?’
When I get tired in my writing life, I read other writers whose work inspires me. Whether it’s a published journal (Joyce Carol Oates, Louisa May Alcott, Virginia Woolf), a book on writing (such as Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY or Terry Brooks’s SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS or Carolyn See’s MAKING A LITERARY LIFE), or something like the WRITERS AT WORK series edited by George Plimpton -- it helps remind me why I do this, and makes me eager to get back to the page.

Get Visual Rather than Verbal
One of the best ways to refresh my soul is to go to a museum and look at paintings. I can leaf through an art book, but standing in the room with a wonderful painting is more effective. The proximity to the brush strokes and the color provides energy. The visual makes me look at the world in a new way. Museums aren’t just for fund-raisers and school trips -- they hold treasures to be enjoyed. Make use of them!

Whatever you do, log off, get those earbuds out, and really experience it. Stretch all your senses, be in the moment, and appreciate the vital, energetic world around us. The best writing is filled with life, not separated. Live an integrated life rather than a compartmentalized one, and your writing will take on fresh energy of its own.

--Annabel Aidan is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in fiction and non-fiction. Her romantic suspense novel, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, is available from Champagne Press. Website:


Unknown said...

Going through that "hover" stage right now. Been in limbo for 2 months. I've got 8 novels and 4 shorts out there and I've hit a wall ten foot thick. When I try to force myself to the keyboard its like I'm enduring another chemo treatment. Not sure why. Always luv'd being in the fictional world before.

Ref doing my nails or hair, don't think that floats my boat, I am a guy JP. Maybe a little luv'en would help. Have to look into it.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I got cut off...

Your advice is right on. We have to live to write about life.

Mike, I hope you'll be back "in the mood" soon.

January Bain said...

I find research one of my refreshers. And unlike Mike, I am a girly girl! I like doing my hair and nails. Find grooming very calming.