Monday, April 3, 2017

Concerning Vacation and Accidental Writing Constraints

I didn't mean to constrain my writing time while on vacation–my intentions were, in fact, completely opposite. I would write every day. I would finish editing my novella, then I would attack two sessions' worth of critique notes on my novel. I would be consistent. I would be triumphant.

I would...get on the first plane, exchange a wary glance with my laptop, and pull out a book.

When jetlag had me awake at 4 a.m. three days in a row, did I whip out the computer and go tap-tap-tapping away? Nah. I turned on HGTV* and drank hotel coffee. You can guess how much I knew about the rest I needed: ZERO. I thought I needed a break from my job, not from fun. (Writing is FUN, day job is DUMB: this has always been my mantra). I was increasingly confused when my daily word quota ended up piled with the dirty laundry instead of checked off my to-do list. I finally stopped expecting myself to write at the end of the first week. It was a relief to stop berating myself for not writing.

I learned that I needed a hard reset from the past year. Job problems, losing family members, podcast responsibilities–everything whooshed around and made it nearly impossible to get a creative footing. Have you ever tried to cross a stream or river on foot? You know there are rocks down there, and you can even see some of them, but every once in a while, you step on a hidden, huge, slippery rock, and as you crash into the water you can't help but wonder, "Why in the world didn't I see that coming?" That was me. I kept trying out different rocks, but I either went nowhere or wiped out.

Halfway into my vacation, I took the sentiment of "OK, I don't have to write" one step further: I told myself I wasn't allowed to write. I could observe, and I could make mental notes, but I wasn't allowed to turn on my computer or open my notebook. It was easy for about a week. And then everything flipped on its head. I had ideas. Inspiration. Cool things were happening in my brain, but I wasn't allowed to do anything with them. It became physically painful–like when you hear someone badly explaining a subject you know everything about.

I've had a couple of days now of "allowed" writing time, and those hours have been the clearest my creative brain has been in months (years?). I am once again excited to sit down and work through my muddle of pages. Sometimes when you think you're happy writing, you're not. And sometimes when you think you want to do something, you don't. Resting doesn't make me a failure–it simply means I'm becoming aware of how clear my creative stream needs to be in order for those crossing expeditions to be better than vacation.

Michelle's vacation is coming to an end, which is sad, but at least she'll be able to devote her time to getting the podcast ready for future interviews and fun summer awesomeness!

*This is how I know I'm on vacation: 24/7 HGTV.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that some greater force understands what it is that we need, despite our plans.

    Between hiking and gold panning, I've spent a great deal of time slipping and sliding in streambeds. When a boulder gives me a spill, I figured it wanted me to check it out. If it’s small enough, I'll flip it over to see if there is gold or some sort of interesting creepy crawly. Most often it is a creepy crawly, I'm still looking for that nugget.