I catch the train into work everyday and often end up standing. I would rather sit and burrow my way into the novel I am reading or open my Mac and finish the thought I was working through the previous night, but it’s not always an option. Seating is at a premium during commuting hours. I use the free time wisely and slip into my writer-stalker mode. I plug into my IPOD to block out the hum of conversation, especially if it’s a twenty something talking into her phone about her forlorn heart and the beau who pushed her to near hysteria. I feel for her having lived through my share of almost but not quite love affairs, but it’s not something I want to use my writer’s muscles on. Once in a blue moon the conversation is too juicy to pass by so I drop in uninvited and linger as long as possible. But usually, I slip into the lyrics of a song and make like the writer I am: always on the lookout for ideas to jot down in my Random & Disconnected Thoughts journal kept for story fodder. Eye stalking and note keeping is Sudoku for the writer.
A pianist starts her day by running scales, her hands fly up and down the ivory whites until the body’s tension melts into the bench and the finger are pliable. It should be the same for the writer. A writer’s mental muscles require the same attention and care. The writer’s job is to keep the mind and imagination flush with possibility. Being on all the time can overwhelm and seem daunting if not mastered. A writer’s mind is a fragile place. It’s subject to the whims of the heart. It is easily manipulated by its own demons. The writer hovers between almost balanced and complete disarray, most of the time. When a writer is not writing, they are thinking about writing. The down time for a writer is as limited as the seats during a morning commute, therefore, coveted and used wisely. The life of a writer if often less grand than characters in the stories we write— we are not running with the wolves or riding in hot air balloons over the Southwest—our noses are buried in books to expand our minds and further educate us on the craft we dwell in. Who else can teach us more than a fellow writer? Reading helps but it’s not enough.
Most writers I know are always writing. Even when not focusing on a current WIP they are working on something. We blog, keep journals, write short stories and poems, reviews, political rants, or interview fellow writers. The writer is ever improving and sharpening their craft—remember the 10,000 rule, the more you do something the better you get, well, to be good at anything requires a minimum of a 10K investment—a dedicated and passionate writer has this etched into the back of her mind.
Once a person declares to the world, I am a writer see me soar, a binding deal is struck with universe. From that point forward, the output must be engaging. A writer stands by her words and commits to deliver compelling content (whatever it might be). The words on the virtual and printed page should pack a punch and be strong enough to rip the reader from his/her Tuna on Rye. How to do that all the time is what keeps a writer up at night pacing the living room floor, and occasionally, howling at the moon or crying in her Merlot. Carrying this burden can stop a writer dead in her tracks.
How to stay fresh, prevent writer’s block, and write compelling content is the bane or cross the writer bears. I don’t subscribe to writer’s block so I can’t offer any wisdom on that subject other than to sit your bum into a chair and write, even if all you write is, I got nothing to say, until something comes out. On staying fresh, here’s a tip that keeps my writer’s mind spry and nimble on the blank page.
Each time your leave your home make the commitment to yourself that you cannot return until observing something or someone for the Random and Disconnect Thoughts journal. Don’t get lazy. Don’t say, I’ll start tomorrow or catch up later, do it now. Listen with you writer ears, stalk with your writer’s eyes, breathe as if it’s the first time you’re smelling the salty sea off the Atlantic or the musky odor of someone who has finished a five mile run. Keeping your eyes and mind open is Sudoku for the writer.
How do you stay nimble and fresh?