Friday, June 17, 2011

Remember to Smell the Roses

What are you doing this summer? I seem to get this question a lot as the coveted season of leisure draws near. And if you're a workaholic writer like me, you might not realize how you're answer my end up reflecting in you writing come winter.

My family is foregoing a vacation this year—blame the economy for that. I have a book I need to revise to get back to my agent for submission to an editor and I have two others I’m waiting to get word back on from editors. Depending on what happens with these and what feedback I get, I could be working on more revisions—either under contract or for resubmission. I also have two WIPs I’d like to finish up by the end of August. Plus, I work full time and have a family to take care of.
So, what am I doing for fun? My friends clarified. And I realized my answer only included more work. You know what they say about all work and no play.

For me, and for many of you, writing is fun. I love the thrill of creating a story. I even enjoy the revision process. Learning all I can about craft and the business is another thing I devour. But therein lays the danger. We all should remember that no matter how fun something is, too much of a good thing could lead to feeling overwhelmed which could lead to burnout.

And burnout is not good for your writing. The muse needs rest, it needs stimulated with something other than you poking at it to give you new ideas. It needs to lay on the beach or play in the pool, too.

How am I avoiding burnout, and thus resting my over worked muse? By planning activities that gets me away from the computer and out in the sun. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, I’m trying to get out and enjoy the day. I try to take a walk in the evening and sit on the deck with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and a good book. I’ve planned to do some recreational things with my family. We’re taking a charted bus day trip to the Baltimore Harbor and the National Aquarium in July. We’re also visiting my family in Western PA and an amusement park and a local lake.

I know it’s still not much, but at least I’m giving my muse a break. Up until two weeks ago my husband and I had nothing planned. But I knew come September, I’d wonder where the summer went and regret not getting out more. And my muse will be rebelling, about the time I'll want to start a new book.

So if you’re a workaholic like me when it comes to your writing, remember to stop and smell the roses. They’re gone all too soon. I should know. I almost missed the roses in my garden altogether this summer. And who knows what my muse could have done with those few moments.


Sheri Fredricks said...

Sara~ It took me a while to figure it out and HOW to do it, but I've learned how to balance family, me, and writing. It's easier when the kids are in school, but with tweaks it can be done. Great post reminding us that there's more to life than our PC's--and fuel for the muse.

Good luck with your writing and smelling those roses!

Brenda said...

Excellent post about something we writers must learn--we do need breaks. Writing may not be physically challenging, but nothing wears me out emotionally more than writing. We have to take time away from our characters once in awhile--let our brains relax and focus on other things. Also, I find if things in my "real" life need attention, I then can't give my full attention to my writing. And if I force it, it shows big time.

D'Ann said...

Hi, Sara~

I have suffered burnout so bad I didn't think I would ever write again...but I am, as you know.

It is vital to take time to enjoy the things that matter--family, vacation time...etc.

I'm not doing anything fun this summer, yet, anyway, and it's driving me nuts.

I need to ride, to get into the mts, to revitalize my muse, and more imortantly, to just get my head feeling good.