I had time to gather my thoughts about a million things during our 1,000-mile December road trip to celebrate two birthdays, including Dad’s 90th birthday bash, and family holiday gatherings in three states across the eastern US.
I also finished a wool shawl started last January after taking a knitting class. Learning how to knit was something I always wanted to do. Even though I finished this big project, I'm not now, nor will I ever be, a knitting guru, and I have no desire to tackle complex patterns. But I can knock out a mean scarf with simple loops. I hope people won’t tire of receiving Cat-knit scarves for Christmas and birthdays.
My shawl experience and holiday travels led me to think about how I want to grow as a writer and be a better inhabitant of this planet. I came up with six simple ways to keep on the write track.
1. It’s the journey; not the destination
2. The road is bumpy
Writing is fraught with literary curves and technical potholes. Keep the pitfalls in stride and author onward. (See point #1 above.)
As Alan Rickman’s intrepid Dr. Lazarus spouted in Galaxy Quest:
Never give up; never surrender!
3. It needn’t be flawless...just your best effort
4. Be patient when trapped in traffic. Try a back road.
Whether driving, writing, or knitting, there are times when the going is slow. Just turn that crawl into a game and find something to smile about.
As traffic jammed the interstate during our holiday trek, we hopped onto back roads through rural Pennsylvania (US). We relished the change of pace and loved the quirky discoveries found in the small towns we passed. Funny how our stress level dipped.
A change of pace works for writing, too. Give that elusive chapter or frustrating e-book format a rest. Walk around the block, hug a puppy, or text a friend. Find whatever you need to re-set your soul, and then get back to it. Guarantee the task will be there when you’re ready for it.
5. Be in the present
I want to savor each moment, taking in blessings that are right in front of me, instead of beating myself up because I’m not accomplishing everything on my to-do list. This hit home as I watched Dad celebrate his 90th birthday.
My father was a vital, active man, a 30-year veteran of teaching middle-school science. However, a stroke that came six months after losing Mama paralyzed his left side. Now, he depends on others to assist him with activities of daily living, but his mind is whip-sharp. His amazing carer stays with him during the day, and my siblings and Aunt Red take turns in the evening. “They’re babysitting me,” Dad explains with a laugh when I phone to see how he’s doing.
Seeing his sweet joy in spending his birthday afternoon surrounded by dear friends and four generations of our family makes me want to emulate his example of grace and gratitude --- which leads me to point 6.
6. Build a Strong Support System
I’m not talking social media here, Lovely Readers. Writing can be painfully lonely for this extrovert. There are only so many times I can babble away to ever-patient JM before he loses his mind.
Human contact keeps me motivated. (Yes, sing along with Barbara Streisand and me: People. People who need people …. ) Because our family lives far away, I look to cyber-friends, gal pals, neighbors, and community to unplug from the keyboard and connect with life.
I feel better, too, when I tackle creative outlets, like photography and choir, that bring immediate results. They nourish my soul and keep the writing juices flowing. Plus, I get to be with people (Okay, let’s sing that refrain again.)
Plus, I'm beyond grateful my writerly colleagues and readers welcome me. I love hearing from readers and I'm jazzed about celebrating hard-working authors as they soar. There’s something lovely about sharing good news and stepping into that circle of gladness. Makes my endorphins do the happy dance.
That’s why my one and only New Year’s resolution for 2015 is this:
I’m offering daily at least one hug AND one atta-person
(in-person or virtual; family does not count).
Who wants to be first?
Thanks for staying with me on my writerly journey these past 12 months. I'm beyond grateful for your company.
Here’s wishing you an amazing 2015 ...
surrounded by dear people,
wrapped in love, joy, and all good things.
Please be social and join the conversation in the comment section below.
How do these tips work for you?
What do YOU do to keep on the write/right track?
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1/4/2015 11:54:13 pm
WONDERFUL! Especially the first part: I have to remind myself all the time that this is a long, interesting journey! I'm going to share with my followers; as always your posts are interesting, helpful, and inspiring!
1/5/2015 05:15:35 am
It IS a long, interesting journey, Leigh! I'm glad we can share it.
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