|Jan Grape and daughter Karla J. Lee|
by Jan Grape
I think all writers sometimes feel in a rut.
I think all creative people sometimes feel in a rut.
Maybe even a lot of people sometimes feel they're in a rut.
My daughter and I were having this conversation the other night.
She works eight or nine hours a day in an office, spending a lot of time staring at a computer screen. Then there's the 20-30-40 minute drive home depending on the traffic. By the time she walks into her house and put on her comfortable shorts and T-shirt, pours a glass of wine and walks outside to her deck overlooking a river, all she wants to do is chillax. She makes a quick dinner and vegges out in front of the TV until bedtime.
She's a songwriter but has trouble getting motivated to pick up her ukulele and creating a song. "I think I'm in a rut," she says.
Do y'all know that ukuleles are very popular again? When I was a young girl I would go visit my dad and bonus mom in the summer. I would beg my dad to play his uke and sing. And he would often agree. He played songs like "Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue" or "I Wanna Go Back To My Little Grass Shack" or "Lazy Bones." I love it. Now there are little pockets of uke players all over the country. Think I even saw a singer/player on THE VOICE tv show. (but I digress.)
I understand being in a rut. I'm retired and have time to write, but I've often listened to my lazy self and after doing a few chores or trying to get my allergies or arthritis pain under control, I wind up vegging in front of the TV and never manage to get a word written on my next story. It seems that I'm in a rut.
It's all about motivation.
How do you get motivated? What works for me may not work for you but I have to sit myself down and realize that I am in a rut with my life and decide to do something about it.
Calling a good friend I haven't seen in months and inviting she and her daughter to meet me at a new Tex-Mex restaurant I've been wanting to try.
Signing up for Yoga class. Signing up to volunteer someplace: meals on wheels, local library, visiting a children's hospital or nursing home each week, helping out at a soup kitchen. Just something to make it out of that rut. Take a daily walk, learn to quilt or paint or to play piano. You can fill your days with something different.
If you're retired like I am, when you get up in the morning, fix your hair and make up if you're female, shave if male and dress if going to an office. Check your day planner then go to your writing work space.
Several years ago I was at a Bouchercon and Sue Grafton was giving a talk to four or five hundred people and she said if you have sat down at your computer and your writing time is three hours, stay there for three hours. Even if you stare at the computer screen and only write the word THE. Sit there for the full three hours. Write something, anything and once you do this, hopefully, only one time of three hours with a blank screen, your creative muse will kick in. Because who wants to sit writing nothing for more than one day?
If you are still working, it's a little different. And you are the only one who can decide what works best for you. Get up an hour earlier to write each day or three days a week. Or set your goal to write four hours a day on Saturday and four hours a day on Sunday. Whatever works for you.
Just do something during the week that gets you out of your rut. Pack a sack lunch and go outside to eat in the park. Buy a ticket to a concert on a Friday night. Spend Sunday afternoon in a museum.
You can decide to make your own happiness and to get out of your rut, JUST DO IT.