Let’s Talk Process: The Jump Start
The first week in March, I ran away to this lovely place:
The Thomas Shepherd Inn is located in Shepherdstown, WV. Leave your banjo at home, kids; the place is a wee, hippie-chic college town on the Maryland border, near Antietam. Jim and Jeanne, the innkeepers, are impeccable hosts, delivering wonderful service even when one is lucky enough to be the only one in the place.
So. Where is covered.
Why? Why. Life. Life and a complete lack of writing spark for the last month. The second such fallow period in the last three months. It’s not that I didn’t want to write. Well, okay, it was. Because I was frustrated with my projects and overwhelmed with life in general (won’t bore with the litany, it’s different combinations from the same larger list for most of us).
Happens to all of us, right? And we get through it. Most of us. Twice in a quarter though? A major stall out? On all of my various projects?
So, I went for the jumpstart. Because what the hell else was I going to do in wee college town for two days after I’d done a little bit of shopping and found coffee and food. I read some, sure, but it was so… quiet. Quiet enough for me to hear my writer brain for the first time in a very, very long time. You know, the one that jumps up and down, waves its arms, and screams when you’re in the middle of something really important or at work or with your kids? The one that, when you finally sit down to listen, sulks and gives you the silent treatment?
When the distractions are gone (no matter how much you love them — I’m talking the kids here, not work) you can listen the minute she pipes up. The minute she tells you that combining Loki with a Batman-esque super heroine is a good idea, that a werewolf would make a fantastic Alfred character. You can be in the writing moment in a way that’s impossible in “normal” life even when writing is your job (I imagine).
Being away from my kids is hard. Sleeping in a bed not my own is hard. Going to a new place alone is hard. But I really want to be a writer when I grow up which means I need to write.
The jumpstart takes you out of yourself. And when you’re out of yourself, you end up with:
I know, I know. Doesn’t look like much. And when I’m hand writing, I only use one side of the page due to ink bleeding and odd handwriting quirks.
But it is. Much. A lot. Whatever. I’m writing again. I want to write again. I love writing again. Sometimes. Most of the time.
Jump starts don’t have to be grand gestures. It can be an hour at a favorite coffee shop. Fuck, it can be five minutes on the front porch. Anything that gives you the time you need to listen to the small voice while it’s speaking rather than trying to demand it on your terms. She doesn’t give two shits about your terms.
Find somewhere you can breathe. Somewhere you can listen.
Take it before you’re in the quicksand the way I was. And certainly will be again.
That’s how I do it, baby. How about you?