So what? Take a break. Go outside, toss the ball to your dog, breathe in the air, observe people in the park, turn off your cell phone, go to a movie, stare at clouds, meet a friend for dinner, and simply exist in the world for awhile.
You cannot create well if you're unbalanced. Being a writer is more than telling stories, working the craft, editing for pace, and revising for clarity. For me, being a writer is about living life, meeting people, developing relationships and breaking free of my comfort zone--which, to be honest, is what I call "my cave" located in the downstairs of my house. I won't develop much as a person if I stay hidden away in my cave chained to the computer--more than that, eventually, my stories will fall flat. So will yours.
I make it a point to get out of the house despite the deadline looming on the horizon. I recognized my out-of-balance lifestyle about six months ago when I had a health scare and had pushed myself to the absolute limit. Despite being exhausted and ill, I refused to stop working. Perhaps it is the curse of the self-employed or the seriously deranged, I don't know. I kept pushing myself. I wanted to have novel fourteen out by the end of the year and only had a few weeks left to do it. I had wrapped up my projects for my editing clients and pushed myself to work around the clock to 'do it all." I collapsed. Literally. My body simply hit the reset button that I'd been unwilling to acknowledge for months.
Upon some hardcore reflection, I realized that all I did was write, edit, parent, sleep, repeat every day. All work and no play not only make Amber a dull and exhausted chic, they make writers boring as hell.
To avoid the rut, I've started taking road trips, with or without the kids, to places I've never been before. The latest adventure led me to Santa Fe, NM and SW Colorado for five days. I said no to the computer, loaded up a cooler, grabbed a map (yep, the old-fashioned kind because I wasn't sure about GPS down there), some snacks, the kids and off we went into the unknown. Boy...not only did I open my mind as a person, I ended up with a notebook full of story ideas.
I go for walks, let my mind relax from social media chatter, and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other while enjoying the neighborhood.
I force myself--yes, I said 'force'--to exercise to reconnect with my body instead of constantly dwelling in my head.
As a writer, I need to look up from the keyboard and immerse myself in the life going on around me. I write about multi-dimentional characters leading lives in a vivid world. To do that successfully, I feel it's imperative to live a full life myself.
Working from home is a blessing, I know. I'm grateful that I make my living as a writer and editor with freedom from a daily commute and a boss breathing down my neck. It's easy, though, to get trapped in a routine of pajama pants, tweets, edits, writing projects, diet soda, and hours that pass without notice. I simply need to give myself permission to hit "save" and "shut down" in order to embrace what's happening beyond my cave so that I'm a better, more well-rounded writer...and person.
How balanced is your day? If you need to, schedule in your walk or your personal time and seriously take it. Don't think, "oh, it's not important" and keep writing through that hour or so. Time away from the keyboard will make the time spent on it that much more productive.
Amber Lea Easton
professional editor and bestselling author