If you could see me right now, you’d know that I’m in a coffee shop, sitting opposite of Jeri Smith-Ready who is intently writing judging by how she has both her ear buds in. (We have a policy: No ear buds means we can chat, one ear bud in means we’re not working on anything serious so we’re available for light conversation or to answer a question, two ear buds in means we’re in serious writing mode so don’t even look at us.)
Me? I was staring at my blank computer screen with one ear bud in, desperately scrambling for words.
And feeling completely outside of my writing bubble.
Instead, I’m still lingering in a Disney bubble despite being back from vacation for almost a week now. My mind keeps going back to the Princess Half Marathon Weekend and how much fun I had running a 5k on a Friday, 10k on Saturday, and the half on Sunday for a total of 22.4 miles in three days.
Oh, the wonderful character photo stops!
Oh, the fun memories made with my running pals!
And most importantly … Oh, THE FOOD!
See, after running three races in a row, I didn’t just fall off the healthy-eating wagon. No, I jumped, eating with reckless abandon, frolicking in food, carousing in calories, gorging on grease, and blissfully bingeing on baked goods seeing as how Disney is the one place where I disregard the diet I’ve been on since fifth grade. So I am proud of the fact that I gained four pounds. And how I left my computer at home. And how I spent quality time with my hubby for the remainder of the trip, rather than going on any more runs.
Problem is … I’m now having a hard time hauling myself back on the wagon. Seriously, it might take a month-long detox to clear out my arteries and running? Oh, please, the thought of doing 22.4 miles again is completely laughable even though it hasn’t even been two weeks ago.
I don’t feel like a runner right now.
And I certainly don’t feel like a writer, since the only thing I’ve been writing since January is to-do and packing lists.
Which brings us back to me sitting in the coffee shop, watching Jeri work, and trying desperately to get back into the groove. Well, what better way to accomplish that than giving tips to others on how they can do the same? So in case you’re finding yourself outside of your writing bubble, here’s the steps I plan on taking for the rest of the week:
1. First off, Don’t beat yourself up over lost writing time. I feel like a hypocrite by saying this, since I’m always beating myself up over something, but seriously, it’s impossible to be ”on” all the time. Everyone needs a break every now and then to refuel creative juices, enjoy time with your family, and to live your life, gathering more experiences to write about! I mean, come on. I got a selfie with Mickey. How could I possibly regret that?
2. Just start somewhere, no matter how small. No quite ready to jump in with both feet? That’s okay, try dipping your toes by doing character sketches or writing exercises instead. (We have lots of them to choose from here!) Go through your ideas folders, jotting down potential opening pages or thoughts that have been brewing in your head. Brainstorm! Do something creative like drawing! Or hey, I know … write a blog post!
3. Read. Short and sweet–A good way to find inspiration for your own work is by reading other writer’s hard work.
4. And while I’m at it, how about Reading a writing how-to book! Whenever I need a kick in the literary pants, I always reach for How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II by James N. Frey. (I know, I know, I’m always recommending this book here, but it never fails to inspire.)
A good writing how-to book will also offer new techniques or perspectives that can re-boot your brain and get you excited about writing again. Per Jeri’s recommendation, I just ordered Denise Jaden’s FAST FICTION: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First Draft Novel in Thirty Days to help with my goal of having a new manuscript on my agent’s desk by May. I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes!
5. And speaking of which … Set new goals! Making deadlines is always a great way to get your butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. Want to double your chance of success? Find an accountability partner who will hold you to them! Just keep those goals realistic. (I’m the Queen of Unrealistic goals!)
6. Find inspiration on the Internet! No, catching up with the Fashion Police doesn’t count … although I must confess that Joan Rivers cracks me up. I mean by reading author blogs or writing sites. Writer Un-Boxed is a really great one. And have you checked out SCBWI’s Blueboard at the new website yet? Lots of good stuff there.
7. Make a routine. No matter what you want to accomplish – whether it’s writing, drawing, blogging or–yikes–getting back into running depends on your habits. So the bottom line to getting your writing groove on is to establish a set routine … and sticking to it!
8. Freshen your writing space! This is one of my favorite tricks to boost motivation–either creating a new writing area or giving my current one a mini-makeover! It’s amazing what a new lamp, re-arranged office, or new set of curtains can do for your creative mojo.
9. And finally … Register for a Conference! Don’t know which one? Well, you’re in luck, my friends because there just happens to be a very excellent one called Spring: Nature’s Revised Draft coming up on March 29th! There’s nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded writers and artists to fill your creative bucket and get you excited about writing again.
And with that, I’m finally finished making that first step back into my writing bubble. Now it’s your turn:
What steps have you taken to get back into the groove?
Happy writing and drawing, everyone!