Rejuvenating My Weary Soul #MFRWauthor
It's been a while since I last posted with these wonderful folks, but to be honest, the last few challenges weren't of any real interest, so I bowed out.
It's Week 33 now, and the challenge asks: What I Do to Recharge
But, guilt has prompted me to write SOMEthing, so here I am!
When it comes to writing, there are a few things that help me to rejuvenate.
And, by rejuvenate, I'm going to assume it means ways to overcome writer's block or stagnation or "I just don't feel like doing this anymore" kind of thinking.
We have all probably experienced some type of deflation at one point in our hopeful careers, so we all know it is also quite temporary.
And yet, while it's happening, it can be a little scary, if not depressing or even debilitating.
Here are a few of the ways I kick myself in the ass to get the creative juices flowing again.
#1 - I Unplug
I stop reading about and listening to what others have to say about the art of writing in general, and that includes disconnecting myself from all things Social Media.
Stephen King may be a terrific writer and wealthy as a result, but his wisdom (being spouted online and posted in countless memes) has an eerie way of putting me off my own game.
Petty, I know, but being a lover of all things Dictionary/Thesaurus, I would have to disagree with the man.
Information overload with everyone offering a different opinion about the same topic, or searching endlessly for info that isn't there... it becomes a distraction as well as a deflation mechanism (for me) so I avoid online time during a writing spurt.
Until I'm finished with the rough-draft, I have learned the hard way to keep that work to myself and not let the BETA bug bite.
Yes, I'm a wilting, over-ripe fruit on the vine when it comes to my writing, and I know that's not a good thing, but my heart and soul are in each word and I know exactly where I want to go with the idea.
To have a stranger enter that magical world and slingshot the stained glass, bulldoze the marble pillars, and deface the priceless artwork with red ink...
It is the quickest way to halt my creativity and rob me of whatever mojo I've got left in me.
ONCE IT'S COMPLETED, that's a whole 'nother issue.
Now I'm prepared to have anyone and everyone have a go at my work with their daggers, torches, pitchforks, cannons, and dynamite.
"Miss R Has Left the Building!"
#2 - I Read
If there is one thing I've learned in all the years I've attempted to get anywhere as an author, it's that reading the work of others, and in a variety of genres, is probably the best way for me to realize I'm one of them and am perfectly capable of joining the ranks of published authors.
Educational AND recharging (at least in the ego department).
Of course, I don't read with the intention of stealing ideas or copying style.
When you read, you learn about style and what works, what doesn't.
I even learned in a Linguistics class in college that we don't learn big words and sentence structure from our parents (just how to speak) but from books.
It's up to us to figure out style, and whether we wish to follow formulaic dogmas or piggy-back off of someone famous.
There have been numerous times when I've bought a Kindle Romance because the synopsis captivated me to no end -- only to start reading the story and come to the sad conclusion that the author missed the mark.
I think that's called Delivery, but I'm often tempted to pick up the ball that author fumbled and give it my own spin just to see if I can.
VERY invigorating (as a challenge, if you're into that sort of thing).
When I come to a road block in my own work, it often helps to just walk away from Word, curl up in a chair with a random book, and read.
It never fails that something in that author's work will trigger an Ah-Ha! moment in my own, and then I'm back at Word typing another thousand or so words like nothing ever happened to slow me down.
On the lighter side of Reading to Recharge the JuJu, I found the cutest story in Reminisce Magazine that gives an example of why I think it is so important to read if you want to write.
In the Magazine's Valentine's Day section, they posted a tiny story from post-war America that just made me go "Aw!" (my abridged version)
A GI is home from WWII and between jobs so becomes a Mr. FixIt in his neighborhood. He lands a house painting assignment for a young widow and paints every room, finishing with her kitchen. While he paints, she goes about her daily household chores but they find time to chat. He's sad to put the finishing touches on the kitchen wall. She fixes a pot of coffee and they sit at the table talking when he says, "It's a good thing I was off that ladder before I fell." (hint,hint) and the lady doesn't quite catch it, but starts to look around the room for any clues when she sees he's painted small red hearts around the entire border just below the ceiling, with one bigger red heard that he'd wrote "I Love You!" in.
And, damn me, if that isn't a terrific catalyst for a Romance Novel Hero.
#3 - I Go Shopping
Even when I'm broke, if I'm stuck on a scene or start to feel down about my writing in general, I head for an area mall (yes, a dying breed now, but we still have two left that seem to continue to thrive).
Walking and window-shopping equates to thinking.
Thinking about real life is a drag, so I mentally shift gears to concentrate on a story idea.
While browsing a few of my favorites: jewelry, skincare, and lingerie, I am slowly but surely revitalizing myself, AND an old story idea that never made it to storyboard, or just putting together the twisted puzzle pieces of a stupid scene that refused to come together while I was at home staring at the dumbass blinking cursor for a few... DAYS.
A lot of people say they like to people-watch/eavesdrop as a way to stimulate the creative juices for their next novel.
I think I might qualify as a people-watcher, but definitely not in the way you might think.
And, I hardly feel that what I see is at all helpful for what I want to write about.
I'm the horridly wicked type who will internally poke fun at the interesting folks I see in public.
Shame on me, I know.
And, as luck would have it (or, is it Karma?) there have been a few times when I've seen something I really wish I hadn't, and those are the memories that simply refuse to leave me, too.
Like the lady holding her scruffy boyfriend's hand, and as they passed me by, I nearly dropped my mustard pretzel when I saw her SHEER blouse and no bra underneath.
Memory erase! Where's the eraser?
Or the time I was at Cedar Point, relaxing at the Beer Garden when the hottest, sexiest, -- like, he could definitely be a super-model he was that amazingly gorgeous -- guy strolls towards me, again holding the hand of his gal pal... who suddenly raised an arm to brush aside her long, brown hair... and there at her armpit was more dark, brown hair.
Sorry! I just lost my appetite.
Apologies! I want to go home and cry now.
I'm sorry, okay!
It was gross, and I remember immediately zeroing in on her bare legs... just to check.
Yeah, they were pretty furry as well.
AND! the time on campus when I sat outside waiting between classes and this 'dude' charges out the Prey-Harrold doors snorting his snot, which he then hocks loudly onto the sidewalk, proceeds to rub his nose with his palm, sneezes into that hand then swipes it down the front of his shirt, picks his ass, snorts again and hocks another lugee, coughs against his palm and swipes it across his ass, (and, no lie, I know he made a move to indicate he also farted) when suddenly this pretty, young thing comes racing towards him, hair flowing, backpack jangling, and she jumps into the guys arms, he presses them hands against her waist, and they French kiss for a few minutes.
But... I don't consider ANY of those occurrences to be novel-worthy, do you?
#4 - I Create My Own Worlds
Yeah, sounds like a storyboard to me!
I'm talking about times of crippling depression that occur due to an inability to write even when you are being urged by your characters to do just that.
If I'm not able to or don't want to leave the house to roam around in public when I'm feeling so depressed about my flagging career choice that I wish I was dead?
I'll create my own fantasy worlds through imagery.
Hot guys, sweet rides, fabulous destinations, amazing architecture, and just colorful, sparkly, dynamic WOW.
(or I binge-watch 007 flicks -- same thing)
If I know I'll never be able to afford it, it goes into my Pinterest Folder labeled MY WORLD.
You might want to try this and see if it works for you.
And, it isn't often at all that I do this, but if anything, it's fun so give it a try and let me know what you think.
Either go online or into your old magazine stash and start swiping pages until something catches your eye.
A color, a spark, an object, whatever... and just stare at it for a time.
If you're able, rip the image out and tape it to your writing area wall.
If your favorite color is Green, then hunt for all things green and display them around or close by your writing station.
If your favorite animal is (an animal) then do the same thing... surround yourself with images of that animal.
Go on Pinterest or just Google images that you know you'll adore and spend an entire DAY examining everything you like.
I created a MUSE folder in Pinterest that's increasingly loaded with imagery, hot guys, a lot of fantasy artwork, and beautiful places with a body of water close by -- all with the intent of offering the inspiration I need to get the writing goddess back into position.
Funny thing is, it's not exactly a storyboard, but sometimes it ends up becoming one!
# - 5 I Travel
And by TRAVEL, I mean hopping in my trusty Honda Civic and going 'somewhere' for a few.
Usually close to home, like a leisurely wind through Hines Park, or west on Michigan Avenue until it reaches Lake Michigan, or an I-94 jaunt East (which is actually North) until it dumps into the Saginaw Bay at the tip of our state's thumb in Port Austen.
Tourist Traps, Farm Country, Little Town Main Street, historical places, and I've even downed a few cold brews in Hell!
Hell, Michigan, that is.
When I need to recharge the creativity battery, nothing seems to beat a good drive in the car.
Favorite music on the MP3 player? Check
Tank Filled to F with Gas? Check
Will it be Twilight Soon? Bonus Points
Heading Towards a Body of Water? Double Bonus Points
Return Trip Through a Neon-Lit City? Ding-Ding-Ding! We Have a Winner!
Detroit after dark is an ideal location to cruise if I need a recharge or ideas.
The casinos, Greektown, the Riverfront, Hart Plaza, the GM Building, the Yacht Club... it's all lit up, glowing against a black skyline, and with Windsor vying for attention across the wide, flowing river.
A story character is living in one of those sparkling high-rises, and by day works at a hipster micro brewery or a trendy cafe.
Or, they live in the suburbs and come down to the city to shop at the Farmer's Market.
One of them is a musician (or works for one) and has to set things up for an outdoor concert in Chene Park!
The possibilities are endless, and they don't even need to be Detroit-based for the idea to take hold and blossom.
Heck, it's possible for the same things to occur in Toronto or London or even somewhere as innocuous as Boise, right?
A good drive at the right time of day, and especially with the right type of music blaring in the vehicle-of-choice is probably the best and most fun way for me (at least) to get my writer's groove back.
Here's a video my daughter made of our crossing the Bluewater Bridge from Canada to Port Huron, MI
Here's a video my daughter made of our crossing the Bluewater Bridge from Canada to Port Huron, MI
We just hopped in the car (my Elantra at that time) and went -- and day-tripping occurs for me a lot more often than even I tend to believe, but it always works.
And, even if there isn't peaceful silence to concentrate on the story idea, it doesn't mean you've wasted a lot of time on a lot of nothing.
We're discussing Creativity Recharge here, and believe me, a change of scenery, 9 times out of 10, will do the trick.
As recently as June, when school let out and I had the whole summer to concentrate on my novel, there was still one thing bugging me to distraction about the story, which I have set in the Northern Lower portion of Michigan.
I'd been to the Petoskey/Harbor Springs area before, but in my childhood, and I could only remember there being a lot of rolling hills (mountains to my young, impressionable mind) and the most spectacular sunset spots on the planet.
Google Earth wasn't cutting it and neither were the vast quantities of stock photos and websites I'd been visiting in all this time.
So, I picked a day when my daughter didn't have to work a shift at the Coney Island, I stuffed a cooler with sandwiches, fruit, veggies sticks and them cute little Ranch Dressing cups, and we headed WA-AY up north.
I was right about its being hilly.
Our ears actually popped like we were at 30,000 feet on an airplane, and it hurt :(
The sunset was as spectacular as I'd recalled, too, being right there on Lake Michigan and all.
It was the twin cities themselves that I had a hard time recalling.
What the houses looked like (lots of 1800s 'cottages' of the rich/famous),
|told you it was 'hilly' up there!|
the local businesses (old mom & pop places),
and the distance between people/the water (a two-lane road separated them... no expressways or buildings to block the wonderful view!)
|Harbor Springs Lake Michigan side|
so to be able to go there in person and really study the place was a huge help to my story!
Sometimes, doing anything other than writing is the best way to rejuvenate your desire to start writing again!
Thanks EVER so much for joining me today and reading my post!
Now it's time to hop on over to the next in line and find out what they do to rejuvenate!