Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Permission to Reboot

My view from a fave walking trail in NC
Man. I'm tired.

Not physically, no. Not really emotionally - at the moment, I'm pretty much steady as she goes, Captain. Not spiritually, either. My relationship with Papa God is strong and sustaining.

So what is it? Why am I - the writer who usually bounds into new projects with both feet - procrastinating about starting my new book? How come my brain starts to shut down when I pull up a blank computer screen and stare at two intimidating words plastered across the top of the page: New Book.

(I learned long ago to write something when I'm facing a new title-less project just to start the creative flow. Sometimes the title doesn't break through until the piece is completed.)

So why is the flow dammed? And why do I have to fight all this guilt and embarrassment that I'm wasting time and being - GASP! - the Debbie-Coty-world version of the terrible awful (to borrow a delightful phrase from The Help) ... unproductive?

Been pondering on that lately and after much soul-searching, have finally come to the conclusion that it's okay to lay low for a while. To chill. To turn off and reboot. To intentionally turn away from the blank page and live life in real time without rushing away to my little writing cave every time something sparks a writing frenzy.

As ridiculous as it probably sounds to normal people (yep, we all know writers fall in the abnormal category), writerly types generally never clock out. Never. We're self-trained to always be on the alert for story possibilities, and to not let those elusive gems get away. Strike while the iron's hot. Jot your idea down on toilet paper, your palm, or a gum wrapper if necessary, and then follow-up with expansion of the idea into manuscript form as soon as possible.

For some inexplicable reason, writing my last book about fear really sapped my creative energy. It was the most difficult book I've ever written. I'm not sure why, except perhaps that interviewing dozens of people about their worst fears gave the Great Deceiver ample opportunity to do a wicked number on me. I developed a fear of fear. Or at least of writing about it.

So now I find that I need a bit more extended period than I'm used to in order to unwind and regroup. Papa has shown me that a longer recovery period will be required than the two weeks I had at the end of each of my previous five books before diving into the next one. 

Now I have to convince myself that not working on a manuscript is not being unproductive. (That unspeakable word is even hard for me to write.) Working on resting is equally productive. It's actually good for me. Not only will I be re-energized, I'll have renewed perspective on the business of living. It will give me something compelling to write about from outside the confines of a computer chair.

At least Benjamin Franklin thought so when he penned the immortal, "Do things worth the writing."

But not-thinking-at-all isn't such a bad thing either. Maybe just hanging out and being is sometimes superior to doing, as hard as it is for us production-oriented folks to comprehend.

My writer friend Rick Christensen at recently wrote a very touching blog post about the importance of lingering, and the impact a friend of his who was known for intentional lingering to enjoy every last ounce of a setting or situation had on Rick after the friend passed away.

Rick's point was that lingering is not the same as loitering. Or laziness. Or heaven forbid ... unproductivity. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. It's experiencing life to the fullest. Abundantly. Bursting at the seams.

I realized how very little lingering, or pausing, or reflecting I do in the course of an average day.

So I hereby give myself permission - and you too (if you need permission from someone) - to linger now and then. And to take it a step further and actually turn off and reboot. Take a cyber Sabbath. Or a week. Or even a month if you need it. And see if that dam doesn't crumble from the resulting gush. 



Anonymous said...

Deb, It is so wonderful that "Lingering" has touched another heart. John was my brother-in-law who passed away from ALS. During his memorial service, Pastor Betty wonderfully weaved how John really wasn't "late"..he was lingering. After his diagnosis, he shared with me how sad it was that so many people do seem to rush through life and not appreciate what they have. God already knows how wonderful your next book will be and I'm sure that lingering for some time is all part of Papa's plan! Thank you for telling more people about John's legacy for us. Rick Christensen