There are some days that you just can't write.
In an ideal world writers effortlessly sit each morning with a perfectly warm cup of coffee churning out works of brilliance.
And then there are the days that you just can't write.
According to the pediatrician, my daughter has contracted Flu B which is neither a lesser flu nor one exploring the alphabet. It just means that she can get the flu twice. (If there is a Flu C I am closing up shop.) She also figured out how to climb out of her crib last night. A sick, free range child is nothing to scoff at.
My son, a decade older than Sophia, finally succumbed to all the nasty symptoms hanging about our house. I'm sick too, and my sickness has manifested itself by making my lips swell to near epic proportion. Think Lisa Rinna, and if you don't know who she is, I'm proud of you. She's a dreadful actress. :-) My husband is traveling and I can't in good conscience ask others to help and expose themselves as both of my children are darling, highly contagious Ebola monkeys.
So you see, I just can't write. (Stick with me, I promise I'm getting somewhere with this including writing goodies!)
Yesterday I read aloud my novel-in-progress to Sophia, alternating between blotting her nose and making chicken scratch marks where problems ought to be fixed. I didn't fix them, mind you, but I made notations for later. For a day when I have more free time, like 2020. Don't worry, this isn't entirely a complaint blog. There are many fun aspects to being sequestered to a house with sick children and no other adult eyes. Pajama dance parties to Thrift Shop. Hourly readings ofGoodnight Moon and watching a near teen smile because he still secretly loves it. Viewings of Labyrinth and David Bowie's package (do they even make spandex that tight anymore?), remembering Jim Henson for the visionary he was.
But I also humbly offer two suggestions on how to recharge your creative engines when they are near empty or broken down on the side of the road and you *think* you just can't write. In other words, how do you get to the point where you can write again?
Step one, read something you love and that you've read a million times before. My son Matthew and I read The Hobbit back and forth to one another, and we even mapped out how we might turn his room into a hobbit hole. He wants to use power tools, I want to use throw pillows. At any rate my brain didn't have to wrap itself around plot or characters. Instead I was just hanging onto the words, and each one spawned a tiny idea in my brain to be used at a later date.
Step two, head to the Internet with a strict promise to yourself that you will only look at positive and useful writing / artistic things. (Facebook does NOT count!) In the spirit of jump-starting your proverbial writing engines, I've assembled below a few favorite articles on writing and related topics. I rarely make it through to the end of them because I'm itching to get to work. Enjoy and save for a rainy or plague-ridden day.
"To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet" - Joyce Carol Oates
"Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start" - Anne Lamott
"Top 10 Tips to Get You Writing" - Everyone awesome, seriously Green, Chbosky and more
"Live Like You're Dying" - Chuck Palahniuk
"On Writing" - An Interview with Neil Gaiman
"How to Be a Writer" - M. Molly Backes (She's not as famous as the other folks, but I love her.)
"Inspiration? Head Down the Back Road, and Stop for the Yard Sales" - Annie Proulx
"You're such a jerk" - William B. Irvine (Not about writing but every time I read this the story ideas start multiplying like rabbits)
"Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer" - Nathan Bransford
"Ten Commandments of Writing for Children" - Upstart Crow Literary (You can never have enough commandments!)
"Seeing Nora Everywhere" - Lena Dunham (I can't read this and not cry a little)
Writing has always been an escape, a passion, and a friend. And I love the fact that in my free time and through my career I can help others discover their voice, too.