Deborah Siegel, author/blogger and mama of toddler twins, shares notes and strategies on writing/life fit as she works toward her next thing.
Standing under the clock in Grand Central Station waiting for my friend to arrive, I breathed deeply. All around me people were scurrying to their meetings and lunches (with their editor? their agent? their boss?). In that frenetic energy, I craved stillness. And that’s my particular challenge right now: sustaining creative motion without feeling frantic, learning to move with calm steadiness, like the second hand on that old big clock.
If February was about giving myself a rare opportunity to exhale, March has been about revving back up. I’m bursting with ideas—workshops to teach, talks to revamp, and, of course, things to write as I work toward my longer project. I’m antsy. I’m trying to decide where to throw my energies in order to both sustain myself creatively and make ends meet. I need to bring some of my February into my March.
Here’s what I’m going to attempt during rest of this month of explosion and exploration to stay, well, more still:
1. Start where you are. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t always so. Yesterday I met with my speaking agent about the prospect of putting together a new talk. “Why not just update the one you’ve got?” Right. Doh. Exhale.
2. Collaborate. I’ve been working on an idea for a new workshop to teach. Today, I brainstormed about it with She Writer Extraordinaire Christina Baker Kline (who many of you know from her fantastic webinars and Virtual Lunches) and we decided to explore teaching collaboratively instead. I love collaborations. I find collaborations far more grounding than going it alone. Exhale again.
3. Resist that craving for closure. I am not—repeat not—writing a book proposal at this early stage in my thinking about my next thing! With the publishing industry itself in as much flux as my thinking about my project, I’m meeting casually with editor friends, and I’m playing with both concept and words, but I’m not pitching anyone anything. (Yet!)
5. Practice non-doing. This one sounds paradoxical, but stay with me. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way. Enormous effort can be involved, but it is a graceful, knowledgeable, effortless effort, a ‘doerless doing,’ cultivated over a lifetime.” To cultivate this skill (it’s hard) I’m trying to sit or heck, stand, in meditation a little bit every day, whenever and wherever I find a tiny pocket of time. Today, I found myself meditating right under that Grand Central Station clock!
So tell me She Writers: What do YOU do to stay calm in the midst of a creative storm? What are YOUR strategies for maintaining equilibrium when you’re in a period of creative explosion/exploration? Please share in comments so I can learn from you, and so that you can learn from each other too.
Top Image: Annie Mole/flickr