Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Secrets of Kidlit: Renew Your Writer's Soul

Every other year, the kids and I shove our camping gear into the car, and head north. My husband thinks I’m slightly crazy because the words vacation and tent have no business hanging out together. And while I’m not overly fond of tents either, that’s not what that matters. What does matter is being there. It is always homecoming of sorts - as my family has been coming to this area for more than fifty years and it is home to some of my earliest memories.

I go because it's where my soul renews itself. And where my inner child is set free to play - in the woods, or the grasslands, or along the beaches of Lake Michigan. It's where I get to spend a week with many members of my extended family. In this area of Michigan, there isn't a single stop light. There are no fast food restaurants. You can't even find a Starbucks. Up there, everything is indie. And nature is valued more than industry.

Last year, as I was getting ready to go, I realized that there were things that I, as a person and as a writer, needed to address. It had been a very stressful year and not only was my spirit drained, but my writing was suffering. I’d only had little pockets of time here and there to spend on my work and because I’d been so stressed, what little writing I got done was more venting in my journal than anything else.

I needed to renew.

I shoved a new notebook into my pack (along with a few novels, of course!) and made the long
drive north. On that drive, I decided that I wasn’t going to focus on my current manuscript, but only on creativity. 

The first day, after yoga on the beach, I closed my eyes and wrote down everything I heard. Then, I refocused and wrote about what it looked like from memory (after all I’d been coming to this beach for over thirty years). And wrote a bad poem.

Another day, I wrote about what it’s like to walk into the camp store and how it sparked strong memories of my grandmother. I could almost see her sorting through the toys on the wooden shelves and pulling out the yellow inflatable ring for me to play with.

Mid-week, I wrote a quick short story based on the time my cousins forced me to run through the pine forest after midnight. (It. Was. Terrifying!) 

By the end of our trip, I had filled more than twenty pages of my notebook and felt ready to return to my desk and my current work-in-progress. While the stresses I was facing didn’t let up by very much, I did get more done. And when I started to slump again, I put aside my project and allowed myself a few days to write whatever I wanted.
As we head into summer, check in with yourself. How is your writing and creativity doing after these busy months of winter and spring? If you need to renew your creativity, consider taking a trip to the park, or a coffee shop, or maybe the pool. Bring your pen and a few blank pages and see what happens!

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