When life gets in the way…

Have you ever felt like the universe is doing it’s damnedest to prevent you from enjoying the things you most want to spend time on? Ever tried to get on with your to-do list and have a million things dumped in your lap that needed sorting yesterday? Ever felt so sure your body is going to collapse under the strain of illness and life stress, that getting out of bed feels utterly pointless?

I should probably tell you that, right now, my hand is stretching itself towards the sky, giving a little wave and shouting ever so annoyingly “Me! Me! MEEEE!”. Yes, life has well and truly kicked my butt and writing has had to take a backseat for the better part of a year! Yes, you read that correctly. Almost an ENTIRE year! Where is that horror stricken emoji face when I need one?

The last blog post I wrote, was published in March a year ago and, looking back over the year I’ve had, I’m not entirely surprised there hasn’t been a peep out of me since. I’m not going to go into details, except to say: I’ve had plenty of good, happy days filled with fun and the things memories are made of, a few too many busy ones full of challenges and deadlines, and then, a whole truckload of the kind where you just want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow, or next week, or perhaps even next year. Looks like I accomplished the last – at least where any form of writing is concerned!

I’m sat looking out the window and spring seems to be on it’s way. The days are getting brighter and I spotted the first crocuses peeping out between the withered brown strands of last years grass yesterday. The world is waking up from it’s long winter nap and I suppose I’m a little envious of it’s ability to start over, clean and bright and eager. What is it with spring that has me feeling like we’re all due for a fresh start?

We’ve had a bleak and unusually snow-free winter this year. Dark, yes. Cold, yes. But instead of the muffled peace that a good snowfall provides, we’ve had rain and a dreary greyness that has dulled even the most cheerful souls. My kids have been decidedly miffed at the lack of snow filled fun. My dog has taken to hanging his head and venturing out reluctantly for his cold, wet walks. And me? I’ve claimed the spot closest to the fireplace and indulged in an endless stream of hot cups of tea, whilst binge-watching yet another tv-series and knitting away the winter evenings.

With warmer weather right around the corner, I’m allowing myself to hope that soon we’ll be able to plant the herbs and veggies we’ve been planning and set out the garden furniture. Warmer weather means less layers going out, oh and note to self: the need for new clothes for my kids that grow like weeds!

As for writing…. I need to read through the chapters I finished last year and take stock, I think. I have a good friend who’s eagerly waiting for the continuation of a story she fell in love with last year. I have chapters she hasn’t even seen yet and I plan to send everything over to her as soon as possible and see what she thinks. Her feedbackย has been great and I can’t tell you the effect it has had on my confidence! Once that’s done, I should know at least where I am and can plan what to do next.

So, for now, my focus will be taking it easy so I can get back on my feet again and hopefully back on track with writing. I’m by no means out of the woods with everything that’s been dumped on me lately, but I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to feel broken anymore and give up on the dreams I’ve held onto for so long. Let’s see what happens from here on out!

I wish you all a pleasant spring day wherever you are!

And happy writing!

When are you at your most creative?

Yesterday I was driving through a slush storm to pick my kids up from school. The temperature was yo-yoing just around freezing and the sky was dark grey, a heavy mass of clouds that couldn’t make up their mind if they wanted to pelt us with rain or bury us in snow. Hence the slush. I drive this route twice a day Monday to Friday and apart from being “slushed” by two passing trucks, the drive yesterday was otherwise uneventful.

What occurred to me though is that those 15 minutes twice a day, are my most productive in terms of writing ideas. I invariably put on a playlist and let my imagination loose. Don’t get me wrong – my attention is on the road! But in the back of my head, little bubbles are rising to the surface of my imagination and I see images or snippets of film and a stream of “what if’s”. I carry a small notebook where I can write these little pearls down – when I get to where I’m headed – and trust me I need to write them down or they get lost in the fog of appointments and meetings and “what’s for dinner”.

But why is it that most of my ideas come to me when driving my car? Why not in dreams? Why not when I’m sat here at my desk actually writing? Why not when I should be concentrating in a meeting or when I’m cooking dinner? I wouldn’t call the scenery along the motorway particularly inspiring….

My theory is that, when I drive on my own, my otherwise busy mind gets to relax and “breathe”. So often I’m surrounded by other people and demands on my attention, that the opportunities to be creative are severely limited. Those short intervals of alone time driving my little electrical car are golden! I could rehash a recent argument, mull over something work related, plan the dinners we’re having next week, but instead I find that I tend to gear down (pun intended) and let my mind wander towards my novel. I guess I’m not the type of person that finds driving particularly stressful – especially not on a route I drive so often – and the possibility of calm, unstressed focus allows my creativity to flow. Add in an amazing playlist I created as a “soundtrack” to my novel and I’m all set! It’s been great in terms of plotting my novel! I nearly always come back from a drive feeling energised and inspired and now that I’m consciously aware of how those moments of alone time boost my creativity – I have a great tool I can utilise when an inevitable bout of writers block hits!

Is it just me? Do any of you experience a boost in creativity when driving your car? Are there other situations or places where you feel your creativity flows better than others? I’d love to hear about it!