Thursday, August 30, 2012

Refilling the Well

Whether we write or have a day job or are busy raising a family, we all need to take step back once in a while and give ourselves the gift of doing nothing.

Before going any further with this, let me state that "doing nothing" isn't necessarily what it sounds like.  There's a whole range of possibilities and each of us should take the time, now and then, to explore some of them.

For the past six months, I feel like I've been going non-stop.  That could be because I have, in a way.  The grandkids, who had been staying at home with their dad who'd lost his job several months before, returned only two weeks after I'd set deadlines for two new books.  I'd become accustomed to not having them around, except to pick them up from school and take them to their home.  I'd forgotten how crazy life can be with them around.  My schedule and goals took a beating, and it's been crazy, but somehow I've managed to stay on course...or close, anyway.

The time of meeting deadlines will ease soon.  I'm wrapping up the last of what's needed on A NANNY FOR THE COWBOY, out in March next year, and hope to have the last chapter of DESIGNS ON THE COWBOY, June 2013, written well before the upcoming holiday weekend is over.  That will ease the pressure, and we all know how important that is.

While I admire those who are like the Energizer Bunny and never seem to run out of steam, I have a deep, dark suspicion that what we see isn't what's really happening. Why?  Because everyone needs some time to refill the well.

I'd never heard that term before, until I heard Kathie DeNosky use it back in the late 90's, when we were both struggling to sell our first books.  Kathie had been at the writing game a few years longer than I had, so she became my guide in everything writing related.  She taught me about the need to stop the insanity and refill the well that empties without us noticing when we have our nose to the grindstone.  (How's that for mixed metaphors?)  I do have to say that she didn't have to explain what "refilling the well" meant.  I got the meaning immediately.  It was the "how" that had me stumped.

Reading has always been an integral part of my life, but once I began writing, the reading time began to shrink, little by little.  Now just reading a handful of books a year is difficult.  There are those deadlines and all the other things in life that need attending to.  I envy writers who have the time to read the work of others, while moving forward with their own writing career.  I wish I could do the same.

Because I can't pick up a book every week or two and devote time to immersing myself in the worlds of other writers, I have to remind myself that it's important to take a break, no matter how short, and do some reading.  Time for that break is coming up very soon.  By next week at this time, I hope I'm in the midst of it and enjoying it.  It's time to refill the well.

As that special time grows closer, I've been thinking more about it lately, and I realize that there are other things to enjoy, in addition to reading.  So here's a list I've come up with to try, just for me.

10 Things to Do to Refill the Well

  • Find a quiet spot to think or just "be"
  • Spend time with friends, both writing and non-writing, especially ones I don't see often
  • Sleep or take a nap without interruption
  • Go outside and watch the clouds drift by
  • Find a place away from the street lights--away from the city--to once again enjoy the beauty of the night sky
  • Take a leisurely walk in the park, not for exercise or any reason other than the sheer joy of it
  • Go to the park and swing
  • Sit by the water and listen to the sounds it makes
  • Find a new and unusual shop and explore
  • Watch favorite movies for a full day
That's my list. What's yours?

The ultimate in refilling my well:

Well it's not far back to sanity, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find serenity
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
Believe me. ~ Christopher Cross, "Sailing" Lyrics

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