Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Refilling the well, redux

Maven Carrie Ryan I feel like I'm Erica's biggest fan these days, but her posts get me thinking :) Yesterday she posted about Refilling the Well and specifically about having taken time off from writing (and vowing to get back to it). It made me think about my own writing life.

I agree with what Erica says, that sometimes you have to take time off to refill the well. I've done that many times and I know that it's worked. I also think that sometimes it's really easy for us writers to be hard on ourselves. Many of us have other full time jobs, plenty of other commitments, and, you know, a life to live. I find time to write the words I need to because it's a priority of mine (and because I have a deadline) but I have also learned to forgive myself when I don't make it.

For example, I had a business retreat in Charleston, SC last week the result of which is that I had a spa appointment midday Thursday and the rest of the day off. My plan for weeks had been to pull out my computer and spend the afternoon relaxed and writing. I was practically salivating at the opportunity -- I could write Thursday-Monday -- think of the progress I could make!!

But after I walked back to my room after the spa, I wasn't sure I was ready to write. So I wandered down to the bookstore (in the hotel - bliss!) and picked up Valiant by Holly Black, a book that so many friends have recommended to me. And then I wandered down the street and came across one of my favorite restaurants that I'd forgotten about. It was middle of the afternoon and they were slow so I snagged a little table outside in the garden. I had a beer, read and people-watched, had amazing She Crab Soup and Shrimp & Grits. Yum!

And when I got back to the hotel, I still didn't write! I threw open the doors to the balcony and read and napped until it was time to go to dinner. All that time I'd set aside for writing, gone. But it was an amazing day, so relaxing and fulfilling. I think, in the end, it was just what I needed. To just be in the world and not pushing. It was a time to refill the well.

So yeah, I think it's important to make writing a priority. But I also think there are times when other things have to be a priority -- the day job, the family, the pets, plain old life: yourself. I think the problem is when you know you're using other things as an excuse not to write. When you have time to write but you just don't, over and over again. That's when it's time to re-examine, maybe re-prioritize and re-commit.

But sometimes, you have to let the writing go. And it's important to really enjoy those times, to recognize them and live in them, rather than always feeling guilty.

So what do y'all think? When was the last time you put writing first and felt really good about it? When was the last time you didn't put writing first and felt really good about it? How do you juggle it all?


Erica Ridley said...

Your day of relaxation sounds awesome!! And you make a great point about doing other things b/c they are legitimate priorities versus b/c they are convenient excuses. I agree we tend to beat ourselves up over our non-writing time. (Or stab ourselves with machetes. Whichever.) Already you made me feel better by pointing out there's no reason to bloody the machete just because the mortgage-paying career got in the way, etc.

And now you have me thinking how long it's been since I've had a massage... A day of spa + reading sounds fabulous to me. =)

Darcy Burke said...

I've been putting other stuff first the past couple of months. Still writing, but doing some other stuff before that writing. And yes, it feels good. The house is cleaner, the clothes are folded in a more timely manner (okay, maybe not), dinner is made...

And yeah, sign me up for spa day!

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens