Refilling the well


I’m on vacation this week which means I won’t be able to comment until I get back (sorry!).  And how handy that I’m on vacation because that’s exactly what I wanted to blog about!  Sometimes it can be really hard to take time away from writing, and sometimes that’s just exactly what a writer needs to do in order to refill the well and reinvigorate their craft.

Up until about a year and a half ago, when I became a full time writer, all my writing time came at the expense of something else — it’s what I did when I wasn’t working and it got smushed in between things like laundry and mowing the yard.  I became very very accustomed to using my free time to write and to a certain extent, I still feel the same way.

Even though I spend most of my days writing during the week, I have a hard time taking the evening or the weekend off, even when I’m not under deadline.  And when I think about going on vacation, I think about all the writing I can get done.  Several weeks ago I was brainstorming for some new ideas and I thought to myself “last time I needed a new idea my husband told me to write what I love, I should try that again: what do I love that I want to write about?”

And I realized that my life had become somewhat one dimensional.  Whereas before, writing was a facet of my life along with being a lawyer and several other things, slowly my life had become about nothing much more than writing (and the business of writing).

Here I’d had all these dreams about all the free time I’d have once I didn’t need to use my evenings for writing and I’d use that new time to pick up hobbies — to take more walks and keep the house better organized.  Ha!  I began to realize that without more external input to my life — more layers — I was in danger of writing flat characters.

I realized I needed to take some time off and while I was at it, I needed to pick up some hobbies.  So I started learning to play an instrument I’ve always wanted to play and I started going on more walks and my husband and I planned a vacation.  Now that writing isn’t all I focus on every day, I’m becoming more and more excited about it.

Sometimes in order to write about life, you have to live life.


13 comments to Refilling the well

  • Carrie, I hope your vacation is lovely, and that you come back refreshed. I love the way you spoke about layers to life. At CC and since, some of us talked about how focused we get on our work to the exclusion of people, and living, and the joy of the small things. I know exactly what you mean.

    This week — yesterday, in fact — I started my garden, the first one years. I love my hands in good soil, the way the soil feels under my nails, ground into my skin. I love to see a plant I transplanted yesterday standing up straight in the dawn. Pulling weeds is thereputic. Planting is even better. Today I’ll take my last day off before I start a new book *and* rewrites. And some stort stories. I’ll paddle a river and let the wonderful nephew watch for a box of plants I’m expecting,and stick them into the ground, to be transplanted later. I’ll let someone else play in the garden, and yes, I’m jealous.

    Neither gardening nor paddling is new to my life, but seeking balance *is* new for me. You’d think I would have learned how by now, but, sadly, no. So that is my goal for this year, the new thing I’ll learn. Balance. (Yes, I learn something new every year, usually something I can use in my writing, natch. Blalance is something I can’t use in the writing but which will enrich it nevertheless.)

    I’m curious. What will you guys do for balance today? I challenge all our readers to do one thing (even if it is something small) to find balance today and then share it with us here. I’ll check in when I get off the water, and I hope everyone has a great, well balanced day!

  • Hepseba ALHH

    Today is TaeKwonDo day for me. I’ve been so jealous of my time lately, that it’s really hard to go, but it’s only once a week and my body feels so much better when I get the good thorough exercise. And when the body’s working better, so many other things are better too. – Happy Thursday everybody.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    (Plus, TKD is good for sketching out fight scenes 😀 )

  • Carrie, first of all, it was so much fun hanging out with you a bit this weekend. I hope we have more opportunities to chat and talk shop.

    Having just gotten back from vacation, I know just what you mean. Sometimes we have to put the work aside in order to get the work done, if you know what I mean.

  • I just wish I could balance writing with the house cleaning. :\

    Also wish it would slow down on the rain a bit so I can get in the garden to finish planting…

    Not sure how to balance today. Have to clean the living room, dining room, and bathroom before we leave for Indiana tomorrow. The day’s pretty much shot. This whole month has been bad for writing.

    @Hepseba – Yeah, I used what little bit of Kenpo I learned (about a belt and a half sadly) and the things my friend showed me of Kendo to work through a couple fight scenes once. I’m wondering if even getting one of those instruction books on a martial art would be useful for fight scenes.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    Daniel: I find that – for me so far – two things are the most helpful for getting a sense of fight scenes. 1) Practice sparring. I’m not very good at sparring and the stuff we do in my class is no-contact (not counting blocking bruises), but just the experience gives a really good sense of how FAST a fight is and the mix of what is decision and what is trained(or spastic) instinct. 2)Playing with big, padded “weapons” with my husband. He’s had weapons training and will let me play with some of his stick drills (which can also be thought of sword/knife drills) and playing with big gladiator style padded staffs is a nice start to getting a feel with what sorts of attacks/moves/rhythms work well with that style of weapon (and how crazy/jolty things can be if, for example, someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing picks up a weapon).

  • Hepseba ALHH

    I just had a thought, though. You’re right, a book might be handy for pointing out what sorts of targets and tools (knuckles, ball-of-foot, etc) are available for bare-handed fighting.

  • Writing is a mental activity — we dream, we think, we analyze, we write. With all that work, it makes sense that we need to recharge the batteries once-in-a-while. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, but it does anyway. Thanks for the reminder. Now if only I could figure out how to fit in a vacation!

    PS — It was wonderful meeting with you and your husband at CC.

  • Sarah

    No balance for me this week. I’m trying to finish my dossier of material for my three year review, teach, write, and pack for a wedding trip (I’m a bridesmaid). And all of it is bugging the heck out of me – every time I sit down to do one thing I feel like I should be doing something else. Somewhere in there I really ought to clean the kitchen. But it just reminds me that Carrie is right. Living like this is not good – it’s only Thursday and I’m cranky, moody and unbalanced. Maybe I’ll force myself to take a walk this evening. Just wandering around the neighborhood can do a lot to restore the equilibrium. Then I’ll find a way to put that frustration in the WIP.

  • For me, writing (while I work hard at it) is what I do for balance in my life. It is what I want to be doing. While I love teaching, and, once I get going, I like scholarship, fiction writing is fun, even when it is work (okay, 85% of the time it is fun.)

    Today I got up with my sweetie when he went off to work at 630 (gaa!) and then went back to sleep. Got up and came into my office at 930, calmed a co-worker down who was going ballistic about some stuff–she was right, someone should have emailed her before taking apart the room she was supposed to teach in today. The I brainstormed about what to do about diminishing office space, and chatted with a colleague who just sold his first book. Then I went back to my office and put together the annual report for the committee I co-chaired this year and sent it off to my co-chair. Then I edited 6 chapters of my book. Now, I’m going off to the gym. (If I type it here, it will happen.)

    Tonight, hopefully I get to do one of the “what I do to keep balance” activities. I’ll call my best friend (the above poster Sarah, who’s about 3000 miles away) and we’ll turn on our DVRs and watch the season finale of Top Chef. Silly? Yes. But hey, it is relaxing, entertaining, and NOT like anything else I do.

  • Beatriz

    Music. Music, for me, fills the cup up when it is empty.

    Thank you for the reminder to do the things that bring balance to life.

  • Bill Hause

    Carrie, it was great meeting you and your husband at the con. I am very glad that I stayed to the end. As for refillin for me, the con gave me al kinds of juice to get going, I typed 2k yesterday. Since I am a teacher during the day, getting the writing in is what helps me gain balance. Let’s see if we can get bic tonight…

  • Y’all got weirder (read that as harder, more mixed up) lives than I do! You got to find BALANCE!

    Today I found balance on a Class II river, floating, paddling with the hubby. We were caught in a lightning storm, rain like wet, icy, miniture bombs dropping from the sky, heavy and pelting. Not dressed for the suddenly plunging temps. Thunder slamming through the gorge, echoing like a series of bombs. Lightning like a million camera shutters in the clouds.

    We pulled over, under trees, on a dry, sandy bank. Sat on our boats under pecan and walnut trees as rain pelted the river and idiots in inner tubes floated past, shivering. Then back on the river in the icy rain. Mist rose from the water. The river itself rose, just enough to make the rapids more interesting. Balance. I came away so filled and quiet and joyful.

    And when we got back to the RV, Tommy (adopted Pomeranian from La.) had peed everywhere.

    Balance. I found it. Hope you remember to look for it too!
    PS — Soooo good to meet y’all at CC!