Living Isn’t a Waste of Writing Time

Last week, one of my friends shared with me her worries about finding enough time to write, now that she is visiting her children all over California and even out of state.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said. “I absolutely love spending time with them. I just worry about the waste of writing time.”

“Living isn’t a waste of writing time,” I said instinctively, wanting to reassure her.

Later, I thought about what I said, hoping I had been right.

Exactly a month ago I posted about my own writing doubts. Halfway through the draft of a new manuscript, I was stuck. I questioned the point of the story. Before long I convinced myself that I would never finish it.

The post triggered some encouraging and practical comments.

Writers and artists shared their own moments of doubt and a few suggested a break, sometimes necessary to rekindle the desire to finish a project.

Why not? I thought. What’s the point of sitting in front of a screen for no satisfaction?

I hit the pause button and didn’t work on the story at all. Instead I blogged more often, especially in French, something I had done less regularly than in English. I visited more blogs, liked more posts, commented on more posts, followed more blogs.

I also read a lot. Although I found many books so well written and compelling that they fed my anxiety – how would I ever write something so good? – I enjoyed the abandon and read for the sheer pleasure of the story.

I had coffee with friends. I watched movies. I listened to music. I walked. I cooked. I baked. I gardened.

I lived.

A few weeks passed, and one morning as I scanned my inbox I noticed that my novel Trapped in Paris had received additional reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Then from her Summerhouse Sherri nominated me for the Seven Awards.

I had just posted about not deserving special treatment. My reward for blogging is when you stop by to visit.

Yet these small, nice gestures were powerful, as small, nice gestures always are.

In my case these reviews and awards nominations kicked me.

That very same day I returned to my new story and wrote an entire chapter. At night I shut down my computer with anticipation for tomorrow.

Later I thought of my attempt to reassure my friend. I had been right after all.

Living isn’t a waste of writing time.

A few of you already knew that art feeds on life and that taking a break is okay.

I owe you a thank you.

The tree below has bloomed – it seems to me – overnight, right after the first real rainstorm of the season, here in California.

On March 1, I find it to be a perfect symbol of the upcoming spring, the season of renewal and hope.

photo-122

Comments

  1. That is so well put. Nothing should dominate your time so much that you feel guilty about just enjoying life. I look forward to every post, but if you’re busy “living” I can wait.

  2. Maybe because we can do so much from our homes, the pause button is harder to hit than it was when there was a more distinct line between “work” and “leisure.” The result makes us fell guilty when we aren’t working, whatever field it is. Creativity can suffer from too much focus on the same task for a long time. I don’t feel as much pressure when I blog, so you’ll get more of my prose. See you on your blog.

  3. You are so right. Often our writing demands that we set it aside and focus on living to bring us back to where we want to be with our words and thoughts.

    • Thank you, Patricia. I knew it and yet I always feel bad when I put my writing aside. In the case of this new work, I had the feeling that the best was to let it simmer without much stirring. I have gladly returned to the manuscript. It won’t be a walk in the park, but I re-discovered the excitement I was missing. See you on your blog.

  4. Perfect indeed. To be fruitful writers, we must first bloom with living richly, investing in the moment, to connect with the earth and the rest of humanity. I enjoy trying to follow your posts en français. Savor the coming green.

  5. Thank you, John. Wise comment, indeed. And merci for reading my posts en français. Do you speak French or do you use the translator? And yes, the green suits California pretty well.

  6. Very well said, and thank you for it. Lucky you the green. Ours is just starting to show up here and there!
    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://handcraftedbyus.wordpress.com
    ♬♬♬ Happy Saint Patrick’s Day ♬♬♬

  7. Couldn’t agree with you more. IMHO, writers shouldn’t have an assembly line approach to writing, but take plenty of time to live, learn, love, interact. It will all work its way into your writing eventually…

    • Thank you, Kimberly. You’re right, writing is a slow process, which benefits from life’s experiences. And let me tell you that making the decision to write in English is adding some ingredients to the experience. See you soon on your blog.

  8. What a beautiful post Evelyne, and I wasn’t expecting to see my name here, but I’m thrilled to know that you returned from your break refreshed, along with the rain which has been falling on California at long last 🙂 You are so right about ‘living not being a waste of writing’. I struggle with this so much and wonder why I get burnt out. It is good to take a breather as you have so eloquently demonstrated. I feel refreshed just reading it! Here’s to spring and renewal 🙂

  9. giselacarmona says:

    How beautifully put, Evelyne! I feel so in sync with these words… Thank you for expressing so clearly what I feel in my heart… Love hearing from you and finding you so happy and refreshed! Have a great week!

  10. Thank you, Gisela. I’m excited to return to my new story. And I hope you will continue to write your poems too.

  11. I too have hit dry spells with my writing and I’ve felt scared, frustrated, weary. Pressure never helps. The best thing for me is to get outside and walk, sometimes intentionally diverting my thoughts away from what I am writing, other times letting the words slosh around in my head. I carry my iPhone so that I can record any ideas that come to me.

    Funny to think that we can get caught up believing we have to write as opposed to enjoy life. I have to enjoy life in order to connect to my creativity, and I have to be connected in order to write well.

    Glad for the rain and spring, literally and figuratively.

  12. Thank you, Winifred. Walks are always great ways to let it go, I agree. I like your iPhone idea! I always carry a notebook and pens. The rain has brought back the color green, which is also the color of hope so all is good.
    See you on your blog.

  13. I think it’s a lovely cycle that combines writing and living. We write and that contributes to bettering our days. We enjoy our everyday moments, which bleeds into our writing.

  14. Well thought and written, Jennifer. Thank you.

  15. Great post. My French is basic but I do appreciate your bilingual posts. How talented to write beautifully in two languages!

  16. Oh thank you, merci! It’s a good way for me to keep up with both languages and I appreciate the fact that you read my prose in French.

  17. i very much concur about life and writing. great post! i am going to put my foot down this summer and learn French, well… at least get started:)

    • Thank you, Rida for stopping by. I should say Merci if you decide to learn some French over the summer. I also blog in French so you can browse through my French posts if you wish. See you soon on your blog.

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