What I Should Be Doing

from the Joy Diary Sketchbook by Cat Fink, held in the Brooklyn Art Library Collection

I think I broke my Writer.

I’m so focused on the book draft lately, I’m not giving time to the things that feed my imagination, aka my Writer.  Big mistake, because here I am ready to write a blog post, and the idea cupboard is bare. 

When I’m empty of ideas, I make lists.  Today’s list is everything I’m not doing to keep my Writer happy and brim full of things to write.

I’m not reading enough.  I haven’t stopped reading, but I’m shorting myself on how often and how long.  My stack of unread books is lonely; it might even be whimpering quietly like a sad puppy.

I’m not playing enough.  I need to go out to play every day, get a change of scenery, have long, loving, occasionally silly conversations with friends and family and kind strangers, play a board game or card game.

I’m not laughing enough.  Self-explanatory, as my book is a tough topic.  Balancing it out, choosing to experience its opposite when I’m not writing would be a happy idea.

I’m not wasting enough time daydreaming and doing nothing.

A short list, and it’s given me a plan to repair my Writer.

Today I’m going for a long, lazy dinner with my husband and son.  No special occasion.  Just because.  If the weather is good, we’ll go for a walk as well, and if the weather is lousy, we’ll play board games.

Tomorrow my sister and I are going to a matinee movie, and our lunch will be popcorn and pop. Then, I’ll read all evening as long as I wish, and go to bed late.

Saturday there’s a family birthday party for my nephew, who is now thirteen and terrorizing his parents via the adolescent emotion roller-coaster.  Very very glad my son is far beyond those years.

Sunday I’ll visit my Mom.  We’ll eat cookies straight from the package and forget to count how many. When I come home, I’ll sit on the porch swing and day dream, or sit on the couch and and do nothing but look out the window.

And next weekend I’m visiting with friends for the entire weekend.  A sleepover, with wine and chocolate, walks along the beach, and talking way past midnight.

There.  Play time all set.  My Writer feels better already.

Writing Between Work And Play

misc.pics 128It’s hot and humid today. There’s a breeze that smells of the ocean and green growing things.  When I look up from my writing, I see a horizon of water that is every shade of turquoise and blue. There’s deep purple at the farthest edge.

I am on the big island of Hawaii.  For the past six glorious days I have been playing.  Swimming, snorkeling, reading, eating, napping, playing cribbage and crazy eights with my husband.  Walking.  Writing.  Sitting doing nothing except watching the ocean.

Yes, writing is here, listed under playing.  Tuesday morning I played with my book, and ‘played’ is accurate.

I pulled out my notes and Mickey Mouse pencils.  I had no expectations.  I only knew I needed to write.  I was missing something I love.

Tuesday I turned work into play.  I wrote with curiosity and wonder.  I opened to possibilities that might show up, even if they shifted my direction and caused a need to rewrite.  I explored the story.

It’s true writing is work, yet it is work I love.  Tuesday I got to be curious and wondering, open and exploring.  I got to watch possibilities arise from my words, and experience creation.

Yes, it  required work in the form of attention, focus, time, and energy.  It required commitment to saying “I will rewrite this” when something was not the best it could be. It needed willingness and courage to move into my truest truth when it felt  painful or frightening.

Something pulls at me if I don’t write for a few days.  Desire, need, obsession.  Yes.  Even more, it is curiosity and love for writing.  I can’t not write.

My attitude has slowly shifted work into play.  I love that writing has become a mix of both these things.  Saying yes I’ll write today, with a feeling of curiosity, opens my heart.  When my heart is open, possibilities open as well.  My writing takes a direction my mind did not expect, I go exploring, and learn something new.

This is play and work as one.  I love that I get to write.

 

Creative Balance

alice
Alice and the Cheshire Cat –John Tenniel

Usually I come to my blog posts with ideas in mind.  I sit down at my studio work table, pull out pen and loose leaf paper, and begin writing.

Not today.

So, I start where I am.  I have my glass of water with a lemon slice floating in it.  I have my coffee with cream, in the white mug with Alice and the Cheshire Cat decorating the outside.  I love Alice and the Cat.  They let their imaginations run, and nothing tips either of them away from being grounded in who they know they are.   And I covet the Cat’s ability to fade away, leaving only his very toothy smile floating in the air.

My two strings of Christmas lights are on.  Does not matter that this is June and half the year away from Christmas.  Seeing them gives me joy, especially on grey days like today.  It may be officially Summer, but there is a sky full of clouds out there.  Someone forgot to shift the weather dials to ‘summer’ and ‘sun’.

My pen with the sky blue ink is in hand.  A thin stack of paper rests in front of me.  This is paper rescued from the bottom of high school lockers last June.  Unused paper abandoned by its teenage owners at the end of the school year.  Retrieved to be used for my first drafts, which are handwritten, messy, and exactly what I love.  Paper happy that its worth has been recognized.

Just now, I realize why I am empty of ideas.  I spent my week creating two workshop proposals and a coaching proposal.  I am written out.  My creative heart and mind have run full speed for five days.  It is time to rest.

Time to let my weekend be a weekend in the original sense of the word.  There is no 24/7 for me.  I am 5/2.

Five days of building and sending out my creations into the world.  Two days of my creative self receiving in.

Reading.  Reading some more.  Doing crossword puzzles.  Colouring in my colouring books (I have several).  Talking and playing with family and friends.  Walking.  Cooking and savouring the meals I and others have created.  Sitting on the front deck, listening to the birds and the wind.  Watching the clouds pass overhead.  Breathing in the green smell of the next-door neighbour’s newly cut grass.

This is balance in my life.  Giving.  Receiving.

Come Monday, my creative well will be full again.  Ideas and Inspiration will whisper to me, ‘Let’s try this, and this.  Let’s play!’

_______________________

In this post:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel, first published in 1865.  You can find images of all his illustrations for this book at http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/