20 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Writing Life This Spring
Contributor

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.

 

Now, you:

 

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!

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Comments
  • Kathleen Ormond

    Look around you at the signs of Spring - lemon yellow daffodils, grassy lawns turning green after months of dormancy, waking to the sound of birds singing, opening a window to a warm breeze - then give these feelings of glee and hope to a character or two. Breathe life into a story of struggle or despair, transform the aromas into a rainforest or cultivate a romantic interlude in foreign meadow. Nature never fails to inspire me!

  • Catching up after being away for a few weeks.  Lost my writing groove.  This is just what I needed.  Hopefully that mash-up is somewhere in the posts I haven't read yet.  :)

  • Julie Farrar

    This post comes along just at the perfect time.  My writing life has been languishing (again) and I need the mash-up list to wake myself up.

  • Meanwhile:

     

    1. Show up. Write anyway. In the face of doubt, insecurity, creative blockage.

    2. Write to music.

    3. Bombard yourself with images -- art, photography, real-life vignettes. They all inspire stories.

     

  • "To your blooms" is the most inspiring sentence I've read, ever.

  • Mash up post coming soon - these comments and suggestions are ALL SO GREAT!!!

  • Carson Gleberman

    1. Put a picture of who you are writing for on your desktop. When you hit a writer's block, just say out loud what you think you are trying to say to him/her/them. Then write that down.

    2. (especially for us newbie writers!) Talk about your project to anyone. Don't be a pain in the ass on purpose about it, but go almost that far - interesting ideas and great cheerleading will come out of unsuspected quarters.

    3. Read something from a culture different from your own.

  • Carleen

    1. Get outside for a walk or work in the yard.

    2. Cry. Get the "bad" feelings (fear, doubt, anxiety, self-loathing) out.

    3. Pray, even though I'm not sure I believe in God.

  • Just start writing where you are in your thinking.  If you reach a spot where you're not sure, type in xxxxx and go back to it later.  It's hard to have the exact feeling for every single line at the same time.  Give yourself some space, carry on with the thought at hand and leave openings to go back to when the time/feeling/words are right.

  • Denise Fisher

    I'm a word nerd. I can spend hours in the dictionary.

    1. open it to your favorite letter (mine is U) and discover a new word.

    2. try to make an intelligent sentence using only the words on any given page.

    3. find a word that speaks to you, mine was "ubiquitous" for more years than I can remember. I loved the way it sounded rolling off my tongue.

  • @Deborah et al

    Yes! I get it as an email, but it turns out it is available online, here:

    http://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=1456#m12064

  • Kerina Pharr

    I love this! Thank you so much for this positive incentive. It is truly a gift.

  • @ Tracey:  Is that interview, by any chance, online?

  • I just read this a few moments ago, and it resonated with me. It's from an interview with Nan Graham speaking about Jeannette Walls:

     

    "If Jeannette had any flaws at all--and believe me, she's a star-- it was a lack of faith in her own power. She could absolutely nail a sentence, but then she might add another one just to be sure."

     

  • 1. Say hello to your Inner Critic. Seriously, she's not there just to berate you. She knows you take words of criticism (inner and outer) to heart. More often than not, if you hear her out, you'll come to some deeper rapprochement between the critical part of you and the part that really only wants you to do your best.

    2. Pepper the air with sage to clear out the spirits of self-doubt.

    3. Go to a Lady Gaga concert and write about it.  Born This Way  

  • I love all of these -- some I haven't thought of, like reading poetry out loud and scribbling your favorite words.  

    (And yes - making lists!)

  • RYCJ Revising

    1. Write when the mood is right.

    2. Write from your heart.

    3. If you're struggling with it, and 'it' won't give... either the mood isn't right... or you aren't writing from your heart. The words will pour out when you write from your heart!

  • Judy Reeves

    1. Writing Practice alone or with others--timed free-writes to prompts

    2. Take a shower, take a walk, water the plants, sweep the patio

    3. Scribble your favorite words on a blank sheet in your notebook, then write a paragraph with them

  • 1. Read poetry - out loud, even very loud if needed to break through all the other noise in your head 

    2. If you always write from one perspective or point of view, write from another, something strange or inanimate

    3. Just write anything.... like three tips for rejuvenating your writing life:)