Remember the old, shiny black vinyl records with those grooves etched in them? And how careful you had to be to dip the needle down at just the right moment, so you caught a groove? And when you got it right, how the music burst forth like a rainbow of sound?
Well, most of us who’ve been wordsmithing for a goodly amount of time have a discovered a groove of our own. Once we’ve embraced the writer’s life we have with enthusiasm and commitment, we find a natural rhythm – a way of approaching our writing that works for us and moves us forward. Finding that rhythm is a gift from the universe and there are as many ways of working productively as there are writers.
But when our rhythm is disrupted — when something happens that interrupts our tried-and-true way of working – well, let’s just say, it can be tough to handle. In my experience, getting back into my groove isn’t easy. It takes time and intention.
Case in point: I recently had minor surgery. All is well, and I’m very glad it’s behind me, but it involved a brief hospital stay and anesthesia. Being the optimistic type and, as a writer, very prone to fantasizing, I had the idea in my head that I’d rest a few days, let the anesthesia flow of me, and get back to work. I’m at the very end of my novel revision and hoped to get it all done before my surgery, but the best laid plans of mice and men didn’t cooperate, so the opening of my story is still hanging fire. Not a great feeling! Here are a few quick tips if, for some reason, you find yourself wrenched out of your groove:
Be grateful: Whatever you are going through, whether it’s medical or some other challenging life event, find ways to be grateful for what’s going well. It helps. A lot.
Ride the Wave: Give yourself permission to just let go. Swimming against the tide is exhausting. So conserve your energy and begin building it up again slowly.
Do Something Familiar: Instead of kicking yourself because you’re not working at full throttle, try doing a few simple tasks that make you feel as if you are on the mend.
Do Something Different: Since I just couldn’t get myself to focus on my novel, I worked on another piece of writing that was totally different. This made me feel I was accomplishing something useful even though I wasn’t up to something bigger and tougher.
Read and Reflect: When I was really unable to focus on my work, I just cozied up and read a book for the sheer pleasure of it. It didn’t tax my mind or energy, but it absorbed me and was very soothing.
Rest up: Most of all, you need to recharge and restore your energy and sense of well-being. So rest up, eat well, check in with your loved ones, take little walks when you can. Do whatever you need to do to nourish your body, mind, and soul. And be kind to yourself! Kicking yourself, as I did for a while, for not being at 100% is unwise. Don’t do it!
May we all rejoice in our groove, our natural way of working – and write on!