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Though John Lennon is credited with “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” it’s apparently Allen Saunders who first said it. Regardless of who it was who came up with it, they were right. It’s always something. Which, coincidentally, is the title of a book by Gilda Radner, It’s Always Something.
So how does one keep writing in the face of all this stuff?
Sometimes, life kicks us when we’re down. Other times, it’s distractions that deter us from our path. No matter the reason, the way back to the path is to just get on the path.
I know that sounds Zen, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad advice.
Just write three pages.
Pull out some paper from your printer tray, or grab a blank notebook. Raid the recycle bin, if you have to. Grab something to write on, and a pen to write with. Put three pages down, longhand. There’s something magical that happens when we write – our breathing slows, we focus, and poof – we’re in the moment. It’s moving meditation, without the discipline and discomfort of sitting in full lotus for an hour.
Write a “Dear Poopyhead” letter.
My good friend, author Dayna Hart, suggested this one to me when I was grousing about a particularly stinging response to a submission. I felt gut-punched, angry, and sad. I didn’t know what to do, but I needed to get “it” off my chest. “So, write a ‘Dear Poopyhead’ letter.”
I grumped, bitched, and complained. This is, after all, what I suggest to my students. But *I* didn’t need it, did I? How could I? I mean, I dutifully write my morning pages every morning, don’t I?
She was unsympathetic. “Write it anyway.”
Which was her whole point.
Turn off the incoming stream.
We are way, way too connected in this modern world of ours. We let all sorts of inbound, unfiltered crap into our brains without discrimination. How many times have you gotten sucked into your Facebook stream, only to emerge soaking wet, wondering what the hell possessed you to go swimming in the river without a life preserver?
So, turn off your ringer on your smartphone. Turn off your wifi on your laptop. If that feels too drastic (and, let’s face it, it does sometimes feel exactly that), set a timer and just do it for a half hour. It’s only 30 minutes.
What do you do while it’s silent?
- Write three pages longhand
- Open a blank document and start typing
- Keep your fingers moving, don’t worry about spelling or grammar
- Listen to music and let your mind wander
Try it. 30 minutes of silence can restore all sorts of equilibrium.
if none of that works, take a bath and go to bed. Your mother was right: it’ll be better in the morning.
What about you, Dear Reader? What are your favorite coping mechanisms?
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”– E.E. Cummings
The Chicagoland Shifters series: