Wow. It's gotten a little dusty around here. I have a tendency to go into hiding a bit whenever I go through transition periods and I'm afraid my internet presence has suffered a little bit in the last few weeks. Next time I'll hang a "Gone Fishin'" sign or something, so visitors know I intend to come back. At any rate, I am back after starting two new jobs and enjoying a short, but fun visit with Mom. Oh, I also crocheted a poncho for my niece and finally started watching Glee. So see, my time away was well spent. At any rate, I am back now in one of my coffee shops, sipping iced tea, and eager to log a high word count today. It has been too many weeks since I have done any kind of serious writing, not from lack of wanting, but simply a lack of time.
I often say that for me, writing is a need. It is right up there with sleeping, eating, and exercise. And like with the above three needs, my body finds ways of telling me when I am not writing enough. We are all familiar with the way we start to feel when we haven't been exercising enough, or when we go through those phases where we replace vegetables with sugar and/or grease in our diet. We start to feel run-down, lethargic, crabby. So we hit the gym and eat a nice, sensible dinner that involves salad or broccoli or something else with actual nutritional value and suddenly, we feel like a whole new person. When I go too long without writing, I experience something very similar.
My Common Symptoms of a Writing Deficiency:
1. Irritability -- Suddenly, everything/one gets on my nerves. This usually results in me snapping at some poor person in the customer service industry. Granted, usually there has been poor customer service involved, but the problem with calling up the phone company to yell about about poor service is that the person on the other end of the call usually isn't to blame for the poor service, and it is usually out of their power to do anything, making it all the more frustrating. I have gotten better about not letting symptoms progress to this stage. Yelling at customer service reps is a sign of a very severe writing deficiency. I am normally very nice and empathetic to these people because I know from experience, dealing with crabby people all the time is not fun and they are never getting paid nearly enough to compensate for the crap they have to deal with.
2. Absent-mindedness -- I have recently found myself up in front of the classroom, dry erase marker in hand, completely clueless about what I had just been teaching because I suddenly had an epiphany about my WIP.
3. Poor eating choices -- Chocolate is not actually a substitute for writing, but I have tried. . . I have really tried.
4. Tendency towards anti-socialness -- I actually turned down a spontaneous game night last night with one of my best friends. If you knew me, you would know this is pretty major. I'm always ready to get my game on.
4. More frequent dreams -- My theory is that because my brain is not getting enough creative stimulation, it just takes matters into its own. . . um. . . cells, I guess. Regardless, it seems the longer I go without writing, the more frequent and vivid my dreams get.
Illustration by Idea Go
This last symptom is actually pretty cool, and I would consider it to be the only perk to a writing dry spell. Over the years I have had a number of vivid dreams that have been added to my story idea folder, and I can still picture certain scenes as if they had actually happened to me. I can still picture the lush green rain forest I flew over in a dream that I had probably over twenty years ago. About ten years ago, I had a very detailed dream that involved a race of people that never died of natural causes, but lived on a island with limited resources. Their solution to this problem was disturbing to say the least. . . this one made it into my novel idea folder and I hope to someday write it. I've dreamed about the end of the world, and I've dreamed about dolphins on water slides laughing. The fact that my mind starts creating crazy stories while I'm asleep during those phases when I don't have the time to write while awake is proof enough for me that my claim that writing is a "need" is valid one.
I know I am not the only one that starts exhibiting symptoms of a writing deficiency. How do you know you haven't been writing enough?
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