Writer’s minds wander. That’s how we write. But sometimes we wander so far away, that we forget to eat; we forget to move; we forget what day, or time, it is. And we may even forget to pick the kids up from school (oops!). Although, we do remember to drink so much coffee that we need an orbital sander to clean our cup.
As I took my morning walk yesterday, I realised I hadn’t said a thing to my walking partner for some time, and that the sun had risen, and that I’d forgotten to count how many laps of the oval we’d done. The sun doesn’t usually rise before we finish, and we’d done quite a few extra laps. I felt like I’d just woken up, and I had to reorientate myself!
I have to say it worried me, and took me some time to come back down to earth. I had, apparently, been so deep in a story, that I’d lost myself in it. This has happened to me at my desk, but never out walking. And although I liked it (because the story was strong enough to elicit such a response from me), I also didn’t like it (because I didn’t like not feeling in control, and vulnerable).
When I got home I had to re-ground myself. ‘It’s Thursday morning, I’ve got to prepare lunch and dinner, and the groceries are coming between eight and eleven.’ I got back into the swing of my morning, and let go of where my mind was in my story. It was like I had to shake my muse off physically.
For me, at least, I like to separate my routine mind and my creative mind. I could return to my story later, but I also have to be able to function.
So, it got me thinking, that no matter what your writing:life balance is like for you, we all need ways to stay grounded.
Like a broken record, when my daughters are having a rough patch, I try to gently encourage them to utilise basic self care strategies – getting a good night’s sleep; drinking plenty of water; eating a healthy diet; getting out of the house each day (even if it’s just to go to the letter box); and having social contact with another person (wave at the postie, even if it’s three pm, and you’re still in your dressing gown, sipping from your disgusting coffee cup, and your teeth are the colour of Gouda).
These are the things I aim for. I don’t always do them, and when I do, I don’t always do them perfectly (yes, it’s ok not to be perfect), but I try, and I find the trying is just as important as the doing.
I know that I can function better when I’m grounded, and therefore, have more energy and clarity to write. So, finding techniques that help us stay grounded, also help us function better, and write better.
We all seek the company of our muse, and to be in the zone, for us, is heaven, (and there’s lots of days in the current climate where partaking in something akin to an alternate universe sounds attractive.) But if we make the effort each day, even if it’s small, to ‘wave at the postie at 3 pm, in our dressing gown, with our disgusting coffee cup, and our teeth the colour of Gouda’, and some of the other stuff that you personally find helpful, we may be able to go into the zone, and return, without finding the sun has risen on another day and not being the slightest bit aware.
2 thoughts on “Staying Grounded as a Writer”
Agree with this wholeheartedly. When we go off on one in real life, our writing also goes off on one and not in a good way.
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It sure can, Rosemary. But, the good thing is that regular, small actions can help keep us centred. Love your group name on your blog, by the way!