Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking the Plunge

My daughter came home from band camp yesterday exhausted and feeling a little worse for wear. Yes, she was happy. Yes, she worked hard. But boy was she pooped. And they call band kids, geeks!


Who's stupid idea was that anyway? I mean, you ought to see the arms on my kids. And their legs? I could roll out pizza dough with those calves. Seriously, folks. So maybe it's just that they're buff AND can play cool music. Yeah, that must be it.

Anyway, I overheard D2 telling D1 about the pool party her section had a couple weeks ago, where she was feeling a little less than buff. I mean, at 5' 2" in an 8 ft deep pool, who wouldn't feel a little intimidated? But her friends were encouraging, supportive, and challenged her to let go of the edge and join in the fun. "Sink or swim!" they called, egging her on. Well, kids are really good at issuing dares, so in she went.

And proceeded to tread water. The entire time. Gotta love those buff marching legs.

After I got done laughing along I got to thinking about how not only was that so typical of life, but of writing as well. At least for me. I have desire, hope, and a longing to join in the fun. But I'm scared. Feel in over my head. And all my friends are telling me to go for it. To take the plunge. Sink or swim. There's no in between.

But there is. And my daughter just proved it.

Writing isn't a do or die. A sink or swim. Caught in a cage with a shark circling around you. Unless you're querying Janet Reid, of course. No, writing is a process. A love of words. A dive into the pool of ideas that is right there waiting for you to enjoy. And treading is allowed. Encouraged even.

But reading, writing, twittering, blogging...all those things designed to keep your mind active and help you in pursuing your publishing goals are also the things that can eventually wear you down. Make you feel tired, frustrated, but worried that if you stop you'll sink. Disappear off the radar and no one will even notice.

My advice? Get a friend. Get a group. People that will keep you in check as well as offer you encouragement and support. And keep in mind that we're not meant to tread water forever. Eventually we'd burn out. That you don't have to be writing 24/7 and querying twice as much.

I mean, some days my kids come home from marching band and just crash. They've worked hard, toed the line, and now they simply need a break. A chance to let their bodies recover, and quite frankly build their muscles.

Did you know that? That while you're resting your body you're actually building muscles?

I've experienced that in running as well. That every now and again I take a break, go a little slower. Let my body recover and then feel stronger for it. In swimming you can float. In writing you can engage in a retreat...a bath...or some other way to give your mind a chance to rest and recoup its strength. Then, when you're ready you may find yourself a little more prepared to dive in once again. To take the plunge, go a little deeper, and have a renewed sense of self to keep working on your dream.

So how do you do it? How do you keep from getting burnt out? What secrets do you have for navigating the waters of writing while keeping a hold on the rest of life?


  1. A schedule. I have to have a schedule. And now that I'm querying one manuscript and starting another, it's even more essential. I need to schedule time for writing first (the WIP...not the work I'm querying), then research, outlining, and character studies for the WIP, then a check on the querying process, and finally...blogging, Facebook, and email. Many days I never reach the blogging, FB, and email phase because, after all...Family does still come first.

    Great post by the way!

  2. I don't have any wisdom to add, I'm new at this still. But I liked what Tanya had to say:) I usually find myself only working on the quick things that I can finish in an hour or less because I have three kids home with me and little time for anything else. I find I have no end to ideas it's actually finding time to write them that evades me.

  3. I follow my muse. I play and I dance. If I don't love it, I don't do it. So, if I'm not in the mood to blog or tweet, I skip it. Oddly, I'm always in the mood to read or write. :) I'm just careful not to overdo it.

  4. I like to take time out. I go outside and "smell the roses" and exercise my legs and back a bit by walking around. Then I can be ready to sit back down in front of this computer and hope the words will flow; if they don't, I check some blogs and e-mails and try again.


Tell me how you really feel. Come on, I Dair YA.