I have a confession to make. For all of my constant chatter about writing every day, even if it’s only for 10 or 20 minutes, there comes a time when planting myself in my chair even for that long can be a real challenge. That time is now … Summer! Who could possibly want to chain themselves to a desk and rack their brains when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are singing their hearts out, and the air is calling to you in that sensuous, addictive voice that says: Come out and play! Come out and breathe. The trees and the walking paths are waiting for you.” Now that I’m struggling to get down to some serious writing, a.k.a. a fiction novel, the challenge has reached Olympian proportions! If it weren’t for rainy days, nothing but a few pages in my journal would get done, if that. As long as the spirits of summer keep calling me, my notebooks and computer screen stays blank … until it rains. Then I have no problem staying in, staying dry, and staying productive.
Here’s the thing: just because you’re not sitting with a screen or a notebook in your hand, it doesn’t mean you’re still not creating. I’ve known many times, as any writer can tell you, when I’ve seen something on one of my walks, or just sitting outside on a park bench, that sparks a hint of recognition, that takes root as a thought, that grows into an idea, that ends up in one of my books or blog posts. Take for example, yesterday. Yesterday it was a perfectly beautiful day. It was warm but not oppressive, low humidity, an enchanting breeze, with big, fluffy clouds sailing overhead. I was sitting outside my apartment complex on a bench under a tree waiting for the mailman who I had spied coming down the block from my perch on the third floor. As I sat there, I inhaled the feeling of the sun, the breeze, the warmth, and the life of the neighborhood going on with its life around me. There was the #35 bus heading west – the bus driver honked and waved. The “chicken man” from the sandwich shop across the street had his grill going, sending the smell of barbecued chicken all over the street. The lady with the two tiny, white dogs was holding onto their leashes for dear life as they ran excitedly after a squirrel … and all of this, all of it, will end up in a draft of a chapter of my book later today – because today, it’s raining. Yesterday was research. Today is application.
A writing teacher told me a long time ago that even when we’re not clutching a pen or hitting keys on a keyboard, we’re still writing. We are collecting data via all of our senses. The touch of something silky, the sound of a child’s laughter, and, yes, even the feel of rain on our faces, or the smell of chicken cooking, is food for our creative juices. It’s the stuff of life and, if we’re honest about creating an authentic life by using our creativity, then how we process the goings on of the world around us has to be included in the building. Writers are always writing even when we look like we’re taking a walk, or watching puppies scamper, or waiting on a bench for the mailman. It’s all part of the process.
This week our writing assignment on the Home Page will give you an opportunity to be a reporter of your own life. This is one I shouldn’t have to tell you to have fun with – the fun is already built-in – but I will remind you to always, always, keep writing. Peace and blessings!