Everything you do supports your writing. As I step back from teaching and mentoring for the months of July and August, I wonder if you might also be feeling like you need a break from your routines. I’ve talked to writers who are afraid to step away from their manuscripts, worried that they many never pick up their projects again. In previous posts, I’ve stated that one of the most important things for an artist to commit to is “returning to your project.” Breaks are important, dare I say essential. A purposeful pause in putting words to the page has the power to sustain and replenish your creative well.
In the words of one of my mentors: “Everything you do supports your writing.” Give yourself opportunities to live your life to the fullest, without having to put words to paper in any way. Give yourself permission to fully enjoy whatever you’ve decided to do, without a nagging sense of undone homework. This is a piece of wisdom I had to learn through experience, especially when I was in the midst of completing my memoir manuscript. I’d be out sea kayaking, and I’d feel guilty because I also felt I should be working on my memoir. Then when I was revising my manuscript, I’d wish I was out kayaking. I had an aha moment during a retreat about being in the present moment. Now, whenever I feel the old tug of guilt, I remind myself, “When I’m hiking, I’m hiking. When I’m writing, I’m writing.”
As I’m scheduling my time away, I also look ahead to what I will do to pick up my writing projects when I return home. For my readers, I suggest scheduling the next writing class or group you want to attend after your time off. Put that program in your calendar. At the end of every retreat I attend, our teacher always reminds us to plan our next retreat now. Even if it is two or three years away, commit to something that supports your practice. One way to maintain and sustain your writing is to know that you have committed to nurturing your creativity in some way – whatever that may be for you.
If you are looking to sustain your writing practice this summer, during your personal pause, here are some practical suggestions for what has worked for me and for other writers I support:
- Find a writing buddy! It’s best if this person is on a similar writing path to yours. Make commitments with each other and support your respective progress. For example, every two weeks, you could promise to swap a piece of writing between 500 and 750 words. Set a date, then follow through. I’ve had a writing buddy since 2012, and we still meet after sending each other drafts and finished copies, supporting each other in whatever project we are cooking up.
- Read inspiring books by authors you love, not necessarily about writing. Dive into a favorite memoir and savor the language. Notice how the story evolves, the structure, believable dialogue, or character development. You can then practice incorporating some of these techniques into your own writing when you take up the pen once again.
- Immerse yourself in nature, either by gardening or another outdoor activity that you love, with who you love. Creativity is nurtured by love.
- Meditate and/or practice yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. These are all practices that strengthen the mind/body connection. For anyone who writes with me, you will discover that the strongest writing comes from the body, from a deep heart connection, a place beyond the rational mind.
While you take a break from your writing projects, remember that Your Writing Matters! Your Voice Matters! There are readers waiting to receive your words.