Rain for the Writer’s Soul

Watering the writer's soulWhite-gray morning sky and the icon on my desktop said rain. I didn’t have to water the seeds I planted last week—the mesclun, spinach, arugula, kale, and peas, the carrots, radish, and beets that came later.

I love spring and summer rain because I don’t have to water my gardens. I love the rain because sometimes I need a day to catch up on errands or inside projects, things I don’t want to do when the day calls me outside.

The rain will sink into to the dry soil. It will help open up those seeds and wake up the peepers.

I’ve been in a writing drought. I’ve found myself resistant to writing. My notebooks are filled with what I’d consider grumblings not writing. I’ve sent out letters. I’ve abandoned my blog. The half written article and the not quite right essay get shuffled from place to place.

I tried writing prompts, but instead of new words, I thought of ones I’d already written.

“I’m tired of my own story,” I thought.

Back in January, an editor had nudged me to submit an essay we had talked about. The timing felt terrible, but I did it. The digital edition came out earlier this month, and the magazine itself, arrived over the weekend. With it came responses—an email from a friend, a call from a neighbor, a FB message, comments on the digital version, emails to the editor. Gentle rain.

Each response reminded me that one of reasons I write is to share experience—to connect.

Writing is discovery and self-understanding.
Writing is capturing memories—or letting them out to let them go.
Writing is communication and sharing.
Writing, over time, allows us to notice patterns and change.
Writing, whether letter or essay or blog post or book, is expression.

The writing in my pile of notebooks and the nested folders on my computer matters. Writing is in part about the process. Writing shared matters in a different way.

This is why I’ll struggle with the stubborn essay on my desk that isn’t taking shape and find my way back here again, why I’ll keep trying to find a home in the world for an essay that did come together, why I’ll keep coming back here even when it feels like it’s been too long.


Whether it’s writing or something else you’re feeling stuck with, go back to your whys.

Tell me about your why.

 

 

Is it the right time?

I planted spinach last week.

First I googled What does as soon as the ground can be worked mean and Is it crazy to plant spinach in March in zone 5B? Answers were non-conclusive as might be expected. I wanted an OK to start planting even though it feels crazy early. Didn’t get one.

Gardening, like life, often doesn’t have clear cut, black and white answers.

The weather has been telling me to get outside, start planting. I find it hard to trust this weather though—and for good reason. March is notoriously fickle. I’ve been tricked before into packing away snowsuits only to have several inches dumped on us. Last week, I sat on the porch sipping coffee and reading and writing a letter. Yesterday, snow.

Most years the ground can’t be worked this early. It’s frozen or a sodden mess or still covered in snow. But this year, it’s tempting and well . . . maybe it’ll work.

Either way, it’s going to be OK.  Seed isn’t expensive.  And I’ll plant more spinach either way. Is it the right time? I’m not sure, but it’s not a big risk to take.

Two years ago today, I wondered if the time was right for something else. And then, like the spinach, I decided to go for it. I signed on to work with a business coach. I sent the email, made my deposit—and wondered what the heck I was doing.

I started freelancing in 2000 after a layoff, and while I’ve learned a lot in that time, I never invested much in my business—a new computer, one fabulous conference years ago, the occasional workshop.

Seven years of babies and grief and changing markets left me knowing I wanted something different. But what? And when?

“Maybe,” I thought, “I should wait until both kids are in school.” It was just a few months away. Maybe I should wait for more clarity. But, no. I was stuck. I needed to DO something.

Sometimes you plant your seeds. You water and wait and hope. Usually things sprout. If not, you try again. Two years ago, the seeds I planted flourished. The spinach from last week? I’ll let you know next month.


What seeds are you ready to plant?

How to start writing again

write notebook, Pleasure series from http://www.goodnaturepublishing.com/pleasures.htmI’ve been in a non-writing rut. I’m not blogging, not journaling, not finishing articles. My writing notebook and online files are dusty.

It’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s just . . . work is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY as Humphrey would say in my kids favorite series. We’ve had snowdays and half days and school vacation. I’m tired. I’m uninspired. It’s been so long. Sound familiar?

So here’s how to start writing again:

Write something—anything. A letter. A list. Count it.

Write again. Five minutes about what you can see out the window. Go.

Email a friend or two. Say “I miss writing with you. Let’s write together again and share.” If you’re lucky, your friend offers to set up prompts to come to your mailbox every week. If you’re not, offer to send them out yourself. If you have no takers, dust off a book of prompts and work your way through.

Get the prompt. Sigh that you are too busy. Think about it all day. Shut down your computer. Say, Damn I didn’t write yet. Pick up a notebook. Write it by hand.start writing again

Clear your kitchen table of all the debris that loves to collect there—the junk mail and random toys and a dowel that you are sure goes to something. Wipe away the dust. In that empty space place your notebook and your favorite pen. Be ready.

Wake up early, but not early enough. Sit at the table with your coffee and start to write. Stop mid-sentence when your daughter comes down. Vow to get back to it.

Come back to it.

Print out the essay and the blog post and the article you want to finish. Put them in a prominent place on your desk (the one cleared just like the kitchen table) right next to the daffodils that make you smile each day. Open the file. Read. Think. Start making notes.

Put aside the thought that it’s been so long since you blogged. Write a simple post. Don’t overthink it. Hit Publish.

Open another window. Write some more.

Let it be messy and imperfect, but let it be. Make it be.

Just write.


I’ve had some false starts over the past couple of months, but I feel like maybe I’m gaining momentum as the spring energy flows. How about you? How are you going to get writing these days?

Need an idea to get started? Try one of these.

In the almost spring

In the almost spring, winter coats and snow pants are left behind in a heapIMG_0385
sweatshirts litter the lawn.

I peer each day at the green shoots by the door.
Look! A snow drop. Tight this morning, opened wide in the afternoon.

I haunt the rhubarb patch looking for bulbous round red knobs,
precursors to wrinkled leaves growing, growing, growing . . .

I can’t play hooky so I sit on the porch and marvel
at the warmth—it’s still March.

A neighbor calls: “The bears! Headed your way!”
Watch from the porch as they waddle silently across the street.

In the almost spring, my kids dig worms, build forts
come in with brown knees smelling of dirt.

I breathe it in and smile.


What signs of (almost) spring did you find today?

Decluttering and my Facebook fast

Two years ago, I gave up Facebook for Lent. It was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m about to take another Facebook fast, though I won’t go 40 days.

When I gave up Facebook, I thought I’d have more time—and I did. I read more. I got more writing done. I got up off my ass and did things. I got outside more.

What I didn’t expect was how much noise it cut out of my life. After a few days, I felt a stillness I hadn’t realized was missing. I stopped composing posts in my head. I didn’t wonder what was going on. I no longer mindlessly clicked onto the open Facebook tab in my browser. Instead, I focused.

There are things I will miss:

  • Sharing with this group who helped me so much in my business over the past five months.
  • Connecting with a new moms group
  • Chatting in an online book group with this group, where I also like to talk food and garden.
  • Getting news—that a friend just had her rainbow baby, that one of my friends just started reading the book I just finished—and reminders, like Lego club is today.

And then there’s Facebook magic, like when I posted about how I’d make garlic bread if I had bread and having the bread show up at my door.

But I won’t miss clicking on articles that I may not really want to read, the compulsion to look again and again and again, staying up too late because I was scrolling too long. I won’t miss closing my computer more often and opening a book instead.

I’ve been working on decluttering my house lately. Maybe I’ll make more progress with fewer online distractions, but better yet I’ll declutter my mind for a while.


 

Have you taken a break from Facebook (or have you resisted it altogether)? Tell me about it.