I was hoping to gain some clarity with my writing while I was on vacation and away from the blog the last few weeks. Like many of you, this winter hit me hard. I found it difficult to stay motivated. And also like many of you, I’ve been juggling a lot of projects. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with so many things but specifically with my writing life. The break did help me to reassess my priorities. Taking time away from my daily routine gave my mind a rest. And trying new things, meeting new people, and connecting with my family made me realize that the world is so much bigger than the one I tend to focus on in my own little bubble.
It was great fun being on vacation. Spending time with my family in the beautiful sunny weather was nothing short of glorious. Being near the water made me smile every day—the sound of it, the sight of it, and the feel of it. There’s something about it that rejuvenates me every time. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean!
I noticed though that this trip was the first time since I started writing over seven years ago, that I didn’t write while I was away. Even a little bit. I didn’t break out my notebook before bed to scribble story ideas. I didn’t spend some of the time by the pool revising a chapter or drafting a scene. I didn’t sit on the porch outlining my latest manuscript. I did sit by the pool though, and on the porch. I did lots of things that gave me ideas and inspired me to write. But I didn’t feel the urge to right them down as they popped into my head.
Instead, I enjoyed the moment.
I mentioned last week that my daughter’s pen pal, Maelle was visiting us from France. And there were a million times during her stay when story ideas popped into my head. Especially character ideas. She is an amazing girl—so very sweet, well spoken, adorable, smart, silly, curious, and full of wonder. She was like a sponge, ready to experience all that America had to offer. But she was also very much like my daughter—a typical teenager. It was amazing for all of us to learn just how different things are in our two countries, but also how so many things are really the same.
The incredible experience did not make me want to grab my notebook and take notes though. I didn’t want to miss a thing while my head was stuck in the notebook.
Instead, I enjoyed the moment.
Many writers will tell you that the experiences you have in your life will make you a better writer. At the very first writing conference I went to, one of the speakers told our group of beginner writers not to quit our day jobs. Her reason had nothing to do with money, though she did emphasize that it may take years to make money from writing. Her reason had everything to do with experience.
The more emotionally charged experiences you have, the better your writing will be.
Meeting Maelle was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was fascinated to learn all I could about their family and her culture and eager to share our culture with her. It was fun to see our country from her eyes. Our whole family loved spending time with her and in just a little over a week, we made a lifelong friend and a connection to a faraway land. Our tears and sobs the morning she left was proof of how much she came to mean to us!
And that’s why my writing will never be the same. Over the last few weeks, I learned how important it is to experience life as it comes. If I’m going to write stories that people connect with on emotional level, I have to first experience people and places on an emotional level too. But that’s not to say I won’t write about it later. I just don’t want to miss a thing while the things are happening! The notebook can wait while I meet new friends and speak new French words. It can wait while I travel to places I haven’t been to before or even while I have a latte in our new coffee shop. It can wait while I eat dinner with my family. That’s the only way I’ll be able to experience the moment.
I can write about it all after. 🙂
And that’s how my writing has changed. I was stuck inside all winter with my head stuck near my computer. These past few weeks have reminded me to open my eyes a little wider…to look to the sun and to look out at all our world has to offer. And then I can write.
Like I said, this break helped me reassess my writing priorities. You may have noticed I didn’t post Manuscript Monday this week. Without a lot of fanfare, I’ve decided to end the series. I know I promised to give a behind the scenes account of the life of a manuscript from start to finish. But as most of you know, I’m writing business novels too now. So in the little extra writing time I have, I need to focus on whipping my completed middle grade manuscript into sparkly shape. It’s close, kind of shiny, but definitely not sparkly. That doesn’t leave much time to focus on my draft. And it definitely doesn’t leave much time to blog about the draft!
So as far as the blog goes, I’ll continue to post every Wednesday. That’s about all I can handle for now. But…I do have something extra (different!) planned for this site. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I think it will be helpful for a lot of writers. I’m very excited about it and I’ll give you more details as I make progress on it. That’s another reason I’m not blogging on Mondays. So many projects, so little time!
Thank you again for checking in today. I hope you all have an amazing week! Be sure open your eyes and make some emotional connections with the people and places around you. You never know how they will turn up in your writing. 🙂