Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Relax from Writing by…Writing!

Computers can make me as headachey as a caryatid!

Do you ever have times when all the computer use gets a bit tiresome?  That’s been happening to me lately.  I’ve been looking for other things to do than even – dare I say it – write, simply to take me away from the computer.  Actually that explains why this blog post is late, though a sense of duty did at last prompt me to write it. 

Now, I don’t mind some time on the computer.  I use internet radio for my music; I like to watch an episode of a TV show at night to relax; I chat with friends pretty regularly.  Those things are fine, because they are intermittent and don’t require you to spend hours staring at the screen in concentration.   All my writing and editing does require that, however, and I’ve been fully immersed in a busy routine of both this summer, which has led to a slight burnout. 

Well, luckily for me, said burnout happened just as I was coming to the last few weeks before my school year starts, during which I work through all my teaching preparations.  It was fortuitous.  (Actually, has anyone noticed that we have this amazing ability to get burned out when we know a change is coming?  It feels like a chicken-or-egg scenario to me!) 

So I’ve been working away on preparing lesson plans, which is actually sort of fun, no matter how much I grumble about it before I start.  However, all work and no play doesn’t help anyone recover from a burn-out, so I also needed to find something restful, perhaps creative to do, to rejuvenate my authorial powers. 

Fountain pens are best for letters!
I turned to writing letters. 

When I was in college I dreamed of being one of those writers who are known by their amazing and soulful letters.  I would die (famous, of course), and my biographer would make the rounds to all the people I’d written over the course of my long, glamorous life.  My brilliant letters would be collected, compiled and millions would read them and be edified.  

Such are the ridiculous (perhaps we might even say nauseating?) ambitions of a 19-year-old with delusions of grandeur.  I didn’t even particularly love to write letters.  That is – I do like to write them, but they take me a long time since I’m not good at curbing myself in regard to length, and so I find them a bit tiresome.  I had enough friends in college who appreciated hand-written letters, though, that I overcame reluctance and kept up several fairly steady correspondences.

Then I got out of college; I started working; several years went by.  My reluctance to write letters came to the foreground, because I really was short of time.  For a while I had two jobs.  Then I suddenly became homeroom teacher for a year.  Once that was done, I decided to devote more effort toward getting published, which stage has been going on for a while.  In the midst of the business I wrote a few letters to my brother while he was at college, but that was about it. 

Suddenly this weekend I was tired of watching myself lose the habit I’d developed in college with considerable labor.  I thought:  ‘Since I’m not willing to sit down at my computer to write, perhaps it’s time to sit down at my desk to write, instead.’  Well, I was right.  There’s definitely a satisfying element of creativity to writing a letter.  Each person to whom you write is different, so they deserve a different twist of your writing style and a different flavor of your thoughts. 

If you need to take a break from writing – and really, unless you are a god, I think you do at some point or other – then I can definitely suggest letters as a way to keep your mind working.  Plus you have the added bonus of choosing a piece of heavy paper, smoothing it out on your desk, taking up your best pen and practicing your penmanship as you inscribe your epistle.  Doesn’t that sound wonderfully therapeutic, especially if you don’t rush yourself to finish, but write and then perhaps pause and then write some more?  I can assure you it is. 

Gravel-gardens and letter-writing: experiments in achieving zen!
This weekend I ended up writing several letters, which made me feel good for taking time to communicate with my friends, and also staved off any guilt for ignoring my writing projects.  And in fact, I enjoyed the process so much that I’m now trying to think of other people who might need a letter from me.  I might as well take advantage of this quiet time before the hectic school year starts to indulge in the zen of letter-writing. 

As a final note, I’m actually planning to handwrite my next novel in a journal, once I start it at the New Year.  Perhaps anticipation of that endeavor helped subconsciously motivate me to tire of computer writing and turn from it to paper and pen.  I’m a great believer in happy coincidences like that, so I’ll just run with the idea!  

1 comment:

  1. I used to have a Pen-pal list an arm long...but as you say it takes time. I had wonderful inks, fountain pens.... I'm down to just a few...that I owe letters too. One I can type... even typed letters take time... so perhaps this day with you gentle (guilty as charged) reminder I'll get to those friends who are still waiting...

    Life changes, throws you curve balls, and sometimes if you want to play you just simply have to change the rules. :)