lesson on playing, take two, this time with feeling

I’ve learned that I can’t force creative ideas, specifically with writing, again.  In the past I learned that if they aren’t flowing, it’s time to do something else; read a book, go for a walk, play a game, etc.,.  I’ve gotten so good at this that I was cool when Winter Break came around and I hadn’t hit my goal of having finished a rough draft of my book.  I accepted this, a lot happened after Halloween; kids home with colds, Thanksgiving Break, birthdays in December, which snowballed into Winter Break and Christmas.

I put my story aside to focus on time with family, I opened up the document to work on it a bit when a couple of tiny ideas came to me, but otherwise, I enjoyed what the days brought.  I gave myself a new deadline, funny word don’t you think?  Dead and line.  Anyway, I decided to have a completed, rough draft of my story, finished by the end of January.

Which really means I went overboard the first week everyone went back to school and work.  I stared at the screen, I thought about my characters, and nothing.  Silence, no ideas came to mind, no sounds of typing filled the air.  It was as if they had gone on strike.  I gave in a couple of times and allowed myself to goof around, to play, thinking as soon as I spent an hour or so doing something else, the characters and how they felt, and why they are a certain way, would come flooding back and I’d be back on track.  Nope.

It’s like the world knew that I was more or less pretending to put everything else out of my head and, you know, play.  I put characters from my book into The Sims 3 Seasons, which was probably what gave me away.  I remember telling my oldest kid I was afraid I’d get that game for a gift because I’d waste so much time playing it, and she laughed, saying, “That’s what games are for.”  Brilliant kid there.  Turns out, I wasn’t really playing, I was trying to use the game characters to force the storyline back to the fore of my focus.  I had some loose ends in there and dammit I wanted them tied up yesterday.  Way to have fun right?

Interestingly, I think I’ve had this lesson before, to just breathe and spend some time for myself doing what I want.  I must have forgotten it.  I spent three weeks being with others, playing games, preparing for guests, baking cookies, cleaning, driving, and visiting.  All enjoyable.  But then it takes a special someone in my life to point out, “You haven’t had any time to yourself for three weeks, go easy and do whatever you want.”  thank you Sam.

I did, and the next day, my characters were revved up and ready to guide me into telling their story.  I tried to cram a weeks worth of writing into a day and ended up with very tired eyes and some jumbled notes.  But I felt overall, very good.  I wanted to stay up late last night, but finally listened to myself and got some sleep.  This morning, I found it pretty easy to check on how well the thread of suspense is being woven throughout, which was what had been bothering me.  It took until today to figure out how to go back and tie it all up neatly.  I can almost hear James Brown singing about feeling good, and I gleefully suspect I’ll have this done before the end of January.

Everything going on in my life can co-exist happily as long as I remember to have some fun time doing whatever I want.  Not begrudgingly, and certainly not go into it with half a mind on something else, just. play.  I want to remember this from here on out, to let my hair fly back, throw my whole self into whatever it is, and before I know it, there’s laughter and a soaring heart that’s exclaiming, “WEEEEEEEEEE!” like a giddy kid on a swing.


3 thoughts on “lesson on playing, take two, this time with feeling

  1. Laura Best

    I often find myself needing to take a break from writing, even if it’s to work on another writing project. Ideas often come to me when I’m in the middle of doing something totally unrelated.


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