Let’s start off with a true confession—I stole that phrase about replenishing and renewing in the title from my friend Patty Bechtold, one of the wisest people I know. She had me as a guest on her podcast this week and that was our topic of discussion.
Patty lives in Santa Rosa and I live in Portland and we’ve never met in person. But we talk on the phone every week—long, rambling, deep soul talks. One thing we’ve been talking about a lot lately is how to replenish ourselves after the year that was 2017 and the ongoing rush of news and information that we deal with every single day. So we decided to do a podcast on it.
But something else happened this week that made me think about replenishing specifically as it applies to writing. And that was this: I finished the rewrite of my novel that my agent has been waiting for since, oh, the end of October. It wasn’t a huge rewrite—but I made it into one. I got myself stalled about how to deepen the motivation of my protagonist and then I turned that into a huge freaking deal that paralyzed me for a couple of weeks. Does that sound familiar? I hope not. I wouldn’t wish the pain of being creatively blocked on anyone.
But earlier this week, I finally finished the rewrite and sent it off. I was home alone at the time, and right after I emailed it I had a bunch of appointments back to back. So there was no big celebration, just a quiet little “yay” and a rush to get ready to head out the door. The next morning, I rose early as usual, got my coffee and went to my desk and….did nothing but mindlessly cruise around the internet.
Because I had nothing to work on.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I have a ton of things to work on—plans for a class I’m teaching this Saturday, a short story I’m in the middle of a first draft on, a novella to rewrite, a new novel with one chapter finished to plunge back into. And the weekly installment of this newsletter.
But it was as if there was a blank wall between me and any of those projects in my brain. I couldn’t focus on any of them. Could barely even remember what it was I needed to do. My brain had short-circuited. Fried.
I’d gotten a pretty good roll of momentum going as I finished the rewrite. Getting up early every day, making steady progress—and now that the project was done everything collapsed. It is obvious I need a big dose of replenishment before I launch back into any other big projects.
I’d like to say that I took the next couple of days off, doing whatever I wanted. But I didn’t. Things are crazy right now, with a home remodeling project about to start, a writing retreat in France in six weeks, and a ton of appointments as I start a new treatment for my bum knee. And that’s on top of working with my wonderful coaching clients, babysitting grands, and having time to spend with my husband.
But I did take a break between appointments yesterday and indulged myself with an hour of knitting. I enjoyed a couple glasses of wine by the fire after a long, rainy drive home from the knee doctor. And I have a massage scheduled for next week. (Okay, truth is I try to get massages every two weeks—they are excellent for my knee issues.)
More than anything, I believe that replenishment and renewal is an inside job. As in, you have to give yourself permission to do it. Permission to take a day off from the writing and/or social media, permission not to check email or answer the phone, permission to do what will make you happy and light again.
Your writing will thank you for it.
What do you do to replenish and renew yourself? Leave a comment and let me know! I always need ideas.
And don’t forget to listen to the podcast!