I’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.
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.
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.
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.
2015 was my year to open. 2016 is my year to connect.
This year I will connect:
- with my family more closely by wrapping up and stepping away from my computer
- with nature with more time outside
- with what I love—the garden and cooking and friends (and I’ll connect those things that I love too)
- with creativity through regular writing and crafting and space to think
- with new clients in this new work I’m focusing on.
- with other moms running businesses to share and learn and collaborate
- with my world by getting out in my community, going new places, trying new things.
This year too, I want to connect the dots between the different pieces of my writing—the copywriting for clients, this blog, other creative writing that’s happening slowly (and I’m trying) regularly. I’m not sure these pieces fit together, but I’ll explore how they intersect or how to make sure they all get the space they need.
The most direct route to doing most of this is to be offline more (she says while online to blog). I haven’t figure this part out yet. I run an online business, so simply checking out and getting off line all the time isn’t the answer. Taking a break might be. Setting not-connected zones of time might be. My struggle to shutdown is one of the reasons I’ve resisted a cell phone for years. I know that when I take time off line, I read and get outside and sleep better. It’s (just) figuring out how to do it.
This past week, I’ve been busy connecting with clients after a break, connecting with potential new clients ready to dive into action in this fresh new year. I’m also connecting with the reality that I can’t do it all at once.
Today, I was tempted to sneak a little work in while everyone else is out tiring out the dog, but what I really needed to do was to connect back to my intention to make space for writing.
So here I am, coming back to this space, to connect.
Do you have a word of the year?
I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start here, with this cool morning that made me pull a sweater over my pjs, at least outside on the porch. I curl my hand around the smooth glaze of my coffee mug, the curved walls fit my hand perfectly. I feel the warmth, watch the steam rise up.
I take a bit of bagel, crisp then chewy and taste the sweet then bitter peach marmalade. More coffee. My eyes are still grainy with tiredness. I know more coffee isn’t the answer, but it’s warm and says wake up if only by routine.
There is a high, vibrating noise in the distance. I think alternately coyotes and a swarm of bees, but now it has settled into music, closer. And then again, far away, the high pitched yelp, and above me, “Caw, caw, caw!”
I’m distracted by cold feet, but I won’t go get socks, not until the kids wake up. I want this quiet time, but still, that vibrating hum far away, and within me. I’m restless, feeling the change in the air, school starting, new routines. I’m ready to settle in, get back to writing, back to running or walking, back to knowing when my work time is. And I’ll miss the lazy mornings, when we stayed in pajamas and read book after book and wandered out in the dewy garden.
I look up from my journal. The paint on the porch is peeling, white chips fallen or waiting to fall, patches where it’s been scraped already. It’s supposed to be painted this summer, one more thing of the endless to do list. Over the railing, the garden waits to be weeded. I see the last zucchini plant, shrived and brown taken down by powdery mildew.
And then motion. A bit of red. Hummingbird. I watch it hover, wings abuzz. Does it ever get tired of so much motion?
I hear the feet on the steps before the, “Mom?” at the screen door. And then it opens and a new part of the day begins.
I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet, and she talks about five-finger exercises and how even the pages that you throw away have purpose. This idea that writing is like running or playing the piano or any thing you do that you need to practice and keep up with isn’t something new. It’s something I know, something I’ve said, and sometimes I still need that reminder.
It’s been a busy summer and I’ve fallen out of practice with many things, writing among them. So I’m here, doing my finger exercises, getting back into the habit of sitting down and putting words on the page. I almost didn’t come here today. I thought, “Next week, when both kids are in school,” but I’m tired of waiting. I’m doing an exercise challenge with my sister, and this morning I can feel in my legs handful of lunges I did last night. I need to feel my writing muscles again too. So I’m here, and I’m writing.
What are you warming up to do again?
I ate my first strawberry of the season standing in my garden surrounded by weeds.
I spotted it, red, plump, and perfect under green leaves as I reached for a handful of grass trying to choke out my garlic. For a moment I thought about calling my girls, but there was only one ripe. I savored it myself.
Yesterday, four more ripened, and I called the girls up to find the little red treasures. We’ll only get a handful as I try to re-stablish a strawberry patch, but what we get is so good.
Most years we go to a pick-your-own place and bring home pounds and pounds (or quarts and quarts). I make jam and ice cream and core and freeze a lot of berries.
The past few years, June has come on fast and strong, and I find myself swamped when I should be picking strawberries. I’m in that place right now—getting through field trips and field day and music shows and end-of-year picnics while trying to wrap up work projects so I can really take the vacation I’m taking at the end of the month.
Strawberries remind me to make time. Blueberries and raspberries and peaches will do the same later in the season.
We need to make time to go pick before the season’s done. In the meantime, my neighbor dropped of a box of berries and I’ll be making strawberry ice cream later. It’s going to taste good with my chocolate birthday cake tomorrow.
Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pint strawberries, cored and sliced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup + 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream*
1 tsp vanilla extract
equipment: ice cream maker
Makes about 1 quart
- Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir gently to combine. Let sit for about 2 hours so that the berries macerate . (A little longer fine, a little shorter and you’ll miss out on flavor.)
- In a medium bowl, mix together milk and sugar. Drain the juice from the strawberries and stir it into the milk-sugar mixture along with the cream.
- Put the mix into your ice cream maker and run until thickened (in my machine that’s about 30 minutes).
- Add the sliced strawberries and run the machine for 5 minutes.
- Eat it soft or let it set for a couple of hours.
* Light cream will work too. I’ve also used a little half and half instead of milk.
I need to move slow today. I wanted to run, but my body said, walk.
And I listened.
I’m not always good at that. Even today. It told me to lie down, take a nap, but I pushed on, sitting in front of my screen try to get the words out. Not so productive.
I’m good at to do lists and getting things done. I’m good at what I have to do, but not always at what I need.
Eight years ago at this time, I was listening. During my first pregnancy, I really listened to my body. I rested when I was tired. I walked when that felt good, went to yoga, ate lots of protein because that’s what I craved. I cut back on sweets only because for the first time in my life chocolate had not appeal. I’d like to be able to listen—and respond—like that again.
Sometimes those to do lists get in the way or the should do things. Sometimes I think I’m too busy (and slowly remember how not to be). Some days I manage to listen.
I need to be outside. I need to smell the earth and see the bits of green—garlic, spinach, lettuce—poking their heads up to the sunshine. I need to move—walk, work—and then be still.
What do you need today?
Share what you need in comments—and take care of yourself.
Make time and space for what you love and what you need. We’ll use writing as a tool to notice, nourish, and nurture.
Registration for Grow ends Saturday.
Please join me!