Let’s face it, writing is not only difficult and frustrating, it’s also very lonely. While we do spend some time interacting with other writers about our process or our promotion, writing is a largely solitary activity and us authors spend a questionably-healthy amount of time communicating solely with the fictional characters we have created in our own heads.
I won’t get into the myriad reasons why this is the greatest job in the world, but every once in awhile, it’s necessary to take a step back and get away from the lonely office and misbehaving imaginary friends to regroup and recharge.
For me, that could mean one of several things. Sometimes I’ll pick a different project or deadline and refocus my efforts to be productive elsewhere. With two pen names, freelance work and a start up company, there is never a lack of to-do and I am can always find someplace to put my energy. But sometimes it’s not the project, sometimes I just need to get out of the office and do something else, in that case, I tend to bake.
By strict order of my family, though, I’m not allowed to do this very often. I don’t hold back when I bake, and I’ll go full butter and sugar, so baking is fairly unsustainable way of managing my work and myself.
In direct contrast to baking, my go-to, author pick me up is something simple and much better for my health. I walk and I listen to audiobooks.
This helps enormously for several reasons. One, writing is sedentary and I stress eat, so walking is one great way to keep my body active nearly every day. My neighborhood is a beautiful amalgam of old houses, dating back to the 1700s and filling in every era since. It is peaceful and lovely and I have garnered much writing inspiration from simply looking at trim and balconies and gardens and putting my feet to the pavement.
And then there are the books. Audiobooks have become one of my all time favorite things, as I’ve written about in the past, and they are fundamental to any career or artistic success I might have. Sometimes the very best way to crack through writer’s block or lack of motivation is to take a step back and read, or rather, listen, to watch some of the genre’s best play with syntax and character arc, to come away from a well-loved book understanding– or perhaps not understanding– why it is so well-loved.
These books have become a staple in my life, and I’ve gone through hundreds of audiobooks over the years. They offer entertainment and inspiration and remind me exactly why I love writing the genre so damn much. Combine that with fresh air and a jaunt around my beautiful neighborhood on a beautiful summer’s day and I am one happy camper.
In the movies, they always show a writer shooting back whiskey and watching the rain, or sitting in a coffee shop waiting for refill after refill. While I’m all aboard the coffee train, I can’t work in cafes and I’d like to think I’m too much of a professional to drink on the job. But though it’s not as sexy or as moving, I’d prefer my technique any day. Because most of the time, a good walk and a good book is just the cure for what ails ya.♦