Today I felt like journaling. It had been a few months since my last journal entry because I hadn’t had much to say. But today I felt like writing again so, for a change, I decided to type my thoughts straight into a Word document. This is different to how I last journaled, when I wrote my thoughts by hand into a trusty black Moleskine. The journal before that was typed, and the one before that was handwritten. I seem to alternate: when I get sick of writing one way, I switch to the other. A couple of years’ ago I tried Dragon Dictate hoping that talking to my journal would help me stick with it. It did, for a while, but the novelty eventually wore off. At least I have 30 pages of early morning ramblings that I didn’t have to transcribe myself.
For me, the novelty wears off everything over time, and it becomes a chore and then a burden. I love shiny new ideas. When I start them, I hope that they’ll never dull and my enthusiasm will never wane. But it inevitably does, every time. Even for writing.
Every year around this time, I feel sluggish. Winter has started to drag—and before you say it, I know I have no reason to begrudge our short Western Australian winters. The kids are tired and sick of school and study. We’re all ready for the year to wind down, but we can’t yet call it quits because the year’s only slightly more than half over—holidays and summer are still months away.
I’ve been berating myself for not writing. It’s been a couple of months since I finished my edits, and I was hoping to blog regularly again and post articles in preparation for the launch of my book. I’d also wanted to return to Novel #2.
But I’ve done none of that. I’ve watched other writers with their bums firmly on their seats, ploughing through their novels and edits and meeting their goals, while I’ve been a flabby layabout. I’ve tried to write. I’ve sat at my computer or pulled out my notebook, but nothing has come, or nothing that I liked.
But today’s journaling has tricked me back into writing. I wrote whatever came into my head, and here it is: my first blog post for a while. It’s worked!
The other thing I felt like doing this week was taking photos. I’ve hardly taken my camera anywhere this year, but this week I took it with me on my walks. I’ve also subscribed to the photo-editing software, Lightroom. Earlier in the year, I was having problems with my computer because my old photo-editing software couldn’t cope with the number and size of my images. I took my time deciding to make the switch to Lightroom, knowing there would be a learning curve, but now I wish I’d done it sooner. I’m having a great time playing! Oh, Lightroom, how much joy you’re giving me, and I’m sure it’s not just because you’re a shiny new thing.
Yesterday while I was out taking photos, an idea for Novel #2 came. It was one of those ideas that come from nowhere and when you least expect it. More of a realisation than an idea, a connection between two things I’d already written but hadn’t realised were linked. One of those occasions when my all-knowing subconscious does the work for me.
It’s funny that it came to me while out taking photos and not thinking of my novel at all, and it’s made me itch to get back to writing that novel again.
All of this has made me realise that we need these downtimes, these times away from writing, times doing things to replenish our empty cups, as Kirsty wrote in her essay on Monday. Because we’re not bottomless wells of creativity and we do need refilling.
So, I’ll continue lollygagging with my camera as it seems to be aiding and abetting my writing, and while I hope to be blogging more often, I won’t make any promises! My fingers are crossed though.
If you missed my Facebook post during the week, you mightn’t have heard the news that Allen and Unwin are preparing the ‘reading copies’ of my novel. These are used for publicity, and it means that copies of my book will soon be going out to early readers. I’m not feeling anxious, just excited, and I can’t wait to hold my real life book in my real life hands!
I’ll be writing all my book news in my newsletter, so please sign up if you’d like to be the first to know when these little babies are hot off the press.
So glad you found some inspiration Louise! I find most of my story ideas come when I’m out waking and not really trying to think of it. And blogging can definitely be a chore. Love your honesty and ability to recognise it! X
I’m getting better at recognising when I need time away from writing and trying not to berate myself when I do. I worked really hard on that final edit, and had two days off in two months, so of course I needed a break! I also realise that I need my photography—although it takes time away from my writing, it also enhances it. 🙂
PS. Thank you for your wise words: ‘I cannot pour from an empty cup.’ They really spoke to me. x
It’s always good to replenish your well, Louise and that might be through not writing but reading. You know the drill. Anyhow, good to read about your struggles, it gives me heart. I’m not the only one, but today i’ve to get through proof reading my entire memoir and i’d rather be writing afresh. There’s only so much editing and proofing I can stand before i refuse to look at the same words again and again and again, on the look out for mistakes. It drives me mad.
Editing is designed to test us—to see how far we can be pushed before we go insane! I do love it but only to a point! I admit I went slightly crazy during both of my edits this year! During my last edit, I kept telling myself that if I do it well, I won’t need to do any more. I forced myself to concentrate and be obsessional. It must have worked because my publishers are happy to make the proofs from that edit. Of course, there will be a final proof-read before the final version is published, but at least I know the worst of it is over.
Hang in there, Lis! xx 🙂
Good to hear you are taking some time to do other things. Who knows what inspiration you’ll get while taking photos, walking, reading, or even just staring into space! You definitely deserve some down time! xx
Downtime’s needed, isn’t it? Staring into space or reading, or even Facebooking, all has its place. It’s nice to feel like being creative and productive again—taking photos, writing—but it can’t be forced until it’s ready. Thanks, Fi. 🙂
You have so much creativity, Louise. The photos are exquisite. Reproducing such raw beauty would have to inspire you.
Thanks, Pinky! I’m a pig in mud with my new toy, and loving what I can create with Lightroom. I’m sure you’re right, too, that the beauty in the photos inspires the writing, and helps fill empty creative wells! I’m sure all art forms feed into and from each other. x
Thanks for your post, Louise. It reminds me that ‘downtime’ is important and filled with creativity, even though it may not be actual writing for the public arena! Love your photos, too. I must dig out my camera and get back into using it!
Do you like taking photos, too? I’ve always been a bit of a camera addict, especially when the kids were younger—I have so many photos of them. At least these days we don’t have to spend a fortune having them developed!
Yes, downtime’s important. I know there are some people who don’t seem to need it, but that’s not me! It’s nice to feel like doing something productive again. xx
Yes, Louise, I have thousands of photos! For a long period of time I played with images through various programs. I’ve travel photos and numerous family memories all captured in images. I find the digital age makes it easier to take photos, but harder to compile into meaningful albums, apart from coffee table books. I need to dust off my trusty Pentax and get it ready for our next trip!
You’re right about capturing everything in images but not organising them! I have over 25,000 photos, just sitting on the computer for if and when I might use them. At least they’re in chronological order, I suppose.
Yes, dust off that camera ready to go! x
Your photos are beautiful, have you ever considered publishing a book of these with prose alongside? Or poems ?
Thanks, Maureen. I do love taking photos, and now with all this wonderful software, you can turn them into art! I haven’t thought of putting them together in a book—maybe when I retire! x
Beautiful photos Louise!!! And I completely understand the novelty wearing off thing. I used to criticise that about myself constantly and now accept that’s the way I am. With me it manifests always with to do lists (or whatever method I’m currently using to keep track of tasks I need to do). Sometimes it will work for months on a particular app, or with a particular notepad or whatever, and eventually, or sometimes quickly, it stops working and I have to change my method. I used to fight against changing it but now I just merrily change to the next new way and get on with things.
I’m glad to know there’s another sucker for a shiny new idea! I’ve decided that it’s because I get bored quickly. I agree with you, too, that there’s no point resisting it or trying to change yourself, it’s much easier (and more fun!) to just go with the flow. Obviously, we have enough self-discipline to stick with the things we really have to and get the job done, so why not add a bit of spice and variety and alleviate some of the drudgery and boredom by changing the things we can! 🙂
You must have just needed a break. A time to recharge.
Ps_Your photos deserve to be in coffee table book xxx
Exactly! That’s all it was—some downtime!
PS. Thanks for the compliment about my photos! x
Welcome back, Louise! Good to read your blog, and see those stunning photos. Multi-talented, indeed! We all need to refill our creativity wells. My trouble is, I forget to do it regularly, and fall into a heap every now and then. No excuse for a devotee of Julia Cameron, though. Artists dates do wonders for stimulating my creative ideas.
Maureen, if I’m still going as strongly as you when I’m your age, I’ll be very happy indeed. You’re a great role model for us all! Thank you. xx
That’s exciting news about picking up your next novel again. Your first novel has been years in the making – no wonder you needed a good deal of down time to get back in the writing mood again. And yes, winter seems to be taking forever this year!
I used to berate myself for not blogging regularly. The advice being you’re meant to consistently have fresh content to keep Google happy. I’ve let myself off the hook. Declared myself a ‘sometimes’ blogger. Writing only when something really appeals to me instead of pressuring myself to come up with topics.
And your photos are lovely! Your software sounds excellent – but you still need a good eye to take a decent photo in the first place. Something you obviously have!
Thank you for these lovely comments, Marie! 🙂
I know what you mean about blogging and what Google likes, but we also have lives outside of the internet, as well as needing our downtimes. There’s also quality over quantity. Good on you for declaring yourself a ‘sometimes’ blogger! xx