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- spent a lot of time outside
- ate Krispy Kreme sugar donuts in bed while reading She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
- took two-hour-plus naps
- read A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano
- flipped channels
- read Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
- skipped across a swimming pool
- rated restaurants on TripAdvisor
- gave myself permission to not meet a thousand-and-one obligations
- looked at the sky
- felt the wind in my hair and sun on my face
- forgave myself cliche in thought and action
- answer email
- worry about writing goals
- worry about whether I will ever "make it" with my YA fiction (whatever that means)
- worry about the CCSS or whether I am a decent educator or not
- judge my worthiness by word count
- care what others think
Some wisdom to chew on from two authors, confirming thoughts in my own head lately:
I get asked this question a lot: What can I do to be a better writer?
I often answer: Write more. Read more.
If I have enough time, I add: And make sure you get out and do stuff. That's how you'll get new material, even if it's riding a bus to your favorite bakery and eating too many eclairs.
It's true. You'll hear people talking about things. You'll see birds and trees and stuff. You might watch a garbage truck making its rounds, a businesswoman walking to lunch in a pair of sneakers, a man running his daily ten miles, a little kid flying a kite.
You will, I hope, gain respect for everyone you see because they're out there doing what they do because that's what they are doing. And if you're holed up writing all the time, you will forget that there are people out there doing what they do. Living.
A few weeks ago, my good friend Drew wrote me a letter. He told me to have fun. He told me that I was allowed to go swimming and do back dives and shit. The minute I read the letter, I went to the pool and did back dives.
Sometimes we have to do back dives.
I rarely hear anyone talk about mulling, thinking, musing, ideating. I remember reading how Tony Hillerman will often lay on his couch for hours with his eyes closed. That was the bulk of his work. I am much the same way, but instead of lying on the couch I take long walks, talk out my plots and ideas and characters, sometimes in prayer with God, other times just talking out loud to myself somewhere secluded where no one but my dog hears me (and he doesn’t mind). Toni Morrison has written about doing much the same, saying by the time she sits down to write, she’s done the hard work of writing in her head.