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Writing 101, Day 11

Writing and not writing

As much as we love to write, it’s important to take breaks — to live your life and have new experiences, and to reflect and recharge so you can come back to your desk, ready to hit the keyboard again. Not writing allows you to gain the distance from your words, and thus perspective, which are both needed when it’s time to edit.

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Today, publish your post in any form you wish, as long as you focus on one or all of these questions.

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I’m a bit behind on these assignments as we were on vacation, but am trying to catch up! Day 11’s post was about taking breaks. Getting away from your writing and living your life.

Being a huge fan of Julia Cameron, teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, composer, and journalist who is most famous for her book The Artist’s Way (1992), I’ve had it drilled into me that you can’t be very creative when your resource well is all dried up. What does that mean? Just exactly what this assignment for W101 is saying. If you’re not out in the world living your life, having new experiences, learning to look at things from different perspectives, what the heck are you going to write about?

I TOTALLY get it. One of Cameron’s main tenets in The Artist’s Way is taking artist’s dates, assigned play. She says:

The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it. (Julia Cameron Live | The Artist’s Way)

So knowing all that — and even more importantly believing it — why is it that I let my creative well get so bloomin’ empty to the point that I can’t recharge and reset when I need to? Why am I whining all the time that I have nothing to write about?

I’d have to say it’s a matter of insufficient exposure to outside stimuli and a certain resulting depression. I’m a people person, and I need to be around others if I’m to feel alive. Though I feel more like myself around all of you on this blog than I have since I was in college, all that’s done is wet my whistle to get out of Dodge and have a few adventures.

Unfortunately transportation and money issues play a big part in preventing more adventuring. To some that may seem like an excuse, but for a lot of people those are real issues. I’ve been praying — yes, actually PRAYING — to be able to get my own car by the end of the year. If and when that happens, the first thing I’ll be doing is volunteering at the hospital. I can’t think of any better place to meet new people and be of help to others.

So right now though I feel like I’m drowning in my Cinderella duties around the house, I feel like my creative landscape is parched and barren. But I choose to believe the time is coming when this little birdie is going to get out of her cage! Then hopefully I’ll be up to my neck in new experiences!

(Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)