To be a writer is to weather the seasons: we stockpile ideas, we slumber long and hard, we wake up refreshed, and, hopefully, if we are lucky, if the soil has been properly nourished and the sun peeks through the clouds, we bloom.
To celebrate spring, and blooming, here are 20 tried and true tips from Christina Baker Kline and yours truly. Christina and I have been thinking a lot about this topic, as we're teaming up to offer a pilot mini-retreat on May 21 in Brooklyn for fellow mamas/grandmamas/caregivers who also write. (We thought we’d start with this group, because such women are multitasking mavens, but in the fall we will broaden our scope!)
Alrighty then. Here is our list. We hope you find it...rejuvenating! And we invite you to add to it, in comments, with tips of your own:
1. Forgive yourself for all that you haven’t written before today.
2. Stop worrying about the fact that you’re wasting time. Of course you are. That’s what writers do.
3. Pay attention. Here. Now. Look for inspiration anywhere you can find it. Everything you take in will be filtered through the lens of your current obsession.
4. Allow yourself to play—with language, with direction. Come at things sideways, in the backdoor, through the attic.
5. Set a deceptively small goal for today: One great sentence.
6. Reconnect with your passion for the beauty of that great sentence. Love the metaphor, the texture, the juxtaposition.
7. Read what you want to write. “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.” –Jennifer Egan
8. Write what you want to read.
9. Live where you are. “All writing is autobiographical as well as invented. Just as it’s impossible to write the whole and literal truth about any experience, so it’s also impossible to invent without drawing on your own experience, which has furnished your brain.” –Janet Burroway
10. Remember that creating art is a messy process. “Beauty follows ashes. That which is lovely does not rise out of the pristine hollows of the universe but out of roiling, disjointed substance of our lives.” –Christin Taylor
11. Just for today, write in an unaccustomed place. Take yourself somewhere new. Get out of town.
12. Schedule an “artist date” with yourself. (Remember those?)
13. Remember that direction + desire = productivity.
14. Allow yourself to love your own writing. Allow yourself to hate it. Remember that reality is probably somewhere in between.
15. Give yourself permission to be creative, distracted, self-involved—and maybe even bigger than the people around you.
16. Get inspired by the visual and tactile. Cut pictures out of magazines, tape postcards on the wall above your desk.
17. Watch your favorite movie, or listen to your favorite song, with an ear for the narrative.
18. Only connect, as E.M. Forster said. Recruit yourself—and maybe some writers around you—for a retreat to someone’s friend’s cabin (or, if near Brooklyn, come to ours!). Produce pages to share, and join up for food and conversation.
19. Join a group you’ve been lurking around on She Writes, or start one of your own.
20. Remember that you can’t rejuvenate in the abstract. You have to put pen to paper. Ready, ladies? GO.
Tell us YOUR top 3 tips for rejuvenating your writing life, in comments to this post. (We know you’ve got them!) We’ll post a mash up—a master list—soon.
To your blooms!