If you’ve been thinking that the blog has been a bit quiet over the past couple of months, you’d be right. I’ve been basking in the sunshine of the UK (no, seriously, we did have sunshine).
As with everything in a writer’s life, there’s plenty to learn from each new experience. My trip to England hasn’t been any different. Here are a few of the things I learned during the months of July, August and September.
Let Yourself Rest
By the time I landed in the UK, I was completely wrecked. I’ve had an emotional year dealing with illness and other situations. Add to that the stress of travel and you can imagine the state I was in by the time I reached our destination.
For the first couple of weeks I felt like a shell of myself. I’d overdosed on television during the flight (I won’t tell you how many movies I watched but the combined length of the flights was 17 hours) so I didn’t want to watch anything, listen to anything, read anything or write anything.
Rather than panicking that there was something wrong with me (the way I’ve done in the past) I just let myself rest. I stared at my parents-in-law’s garden, went for very gentle walks in the nearby fields and generally bludged around. I forgot the idea that I could actually be productive during my visit. I just let myself be.
It was the best thing I could have done. Slowly, imperceptibly, my Creativity awoke from her stupor and gradually returned to form. A little patience and some self-love brought me back to reality when I was ready.
Reading Really Does Restore
Some British friends of mine leant me a few books, so I was able to spend time with my favourite writers – P.G. Wodehouse and Gerald Durrell. I was also introduced to new writers through the book Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down which started life as a blog.
Through the pages of these writers, I once again fell in love with the written word. Their writing filled me with words, turns of phrase, characters, details and general literariness (the spell checker approves of that last word, what a shock!). It reminded me why I love writing and inspired me to return pen to paper.
I think we all go through spells when our Creativity becomes parched and we get to the point where we don’t love writing like we used to. During those times it’s so important to actively refresh yourself with books and other creative things that refill the well.
With that in mind, I came up with the Creative Cleanse. Those who were subscribed to the Creativity’s Workshop mailing list would have read through it during the month of September. If you participated in it and enjoyed the experience, please let me know.
Writers are Strange People
My parents have become accustomed to the strange ways of writers because both their children are writers. They’re used to our sudden dashes to the page when we’ve thought of something we need to write down. They’re used to our ‘what if?’ brainstorming sessions where we discuss anything from microscopic life to conquering the universe. They’re used to us disappearing for hours on end while we craft something new from a blank page.
However, my husband’s parents have never lived with a writer.
It is not until you see your life through another person’s eyes that you realise how different your habits are from the ‘norm.’ Of course, there’s no such thing as ‘normal,’ but it was interesting to see how a writer’s habits appear to others.
For example, if you are a person whose book collection fits in a drawer, you may wonder why your daughter-in-law needs 7 notebooks, a Kindle and several novels for a three month stay. Almost one third of my luggage was made up of books. How many other people travel like that?
Sudden disappearances for an hour or more scribbling in a notebook can seem concerning, especially when you realise that the person scribbling is recording what’s happening in their life while in your home. Naturally, with no previous experience in the matter, you begin to ask yourself what they could possibly by writing about.
I found I had to be very open about what I was doing, even reading excerpts from my journal, so that my hosts understood that my times of solitude were due to literary needs rather than emotional sulks.
It’s not until you travel and meet different people that you realise how many things you take for granted about your everyday habits and expectations. That realisation should always influence our characters and the worlds we build in our stories.
Those are just a few of the things I discovered during my recent trip away. There are a few more special things I experienced during the past couple of months that you’ll hear about in upcoming posts.
In the meantime, what about you? What things have you learned about yourself and your Creativity in the past three months? Comment below and let me know how you’re going.