Thanksgiving and my cold now appear to be over and I can ago about my business, finally. Time to write up a storm. As soon as I catch a friggin’ Miltank, anyway… Thing won’t freaking show up and its been half an hour! So annoying. At least I’m failing to get some Black Friday shopping deal. I mean, sure, I can’t get what I want, but at least I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) and wait in line for a couple of hours to fail to get what I wanted.
Trying to make the time to write over the holidays has always been a tricky endeavor for me. I try to balance spending time with my family with spending time on a commitment I’ve made to myself. This is further complicated by the fact that I recognize that chatting over dinner isn’t enough face-to-face time with my family and the fact that my family is fairly supportive of my writing. It’s a fine balance to find and, combined with the unfamiliar environment and laptop writing, I wind up being only about half as productive as I normally would be. At the same time, though, I usually come back ready to write and be super productive, giving me a few days of increased productivity. Like I said, it’s a fine balance.
Even if I didn’t do as much this holiday as I usually do, I’ve always enjoyed the act of driving places. Being able to climb into my car and just go has always been reassuring to me. Knowing I’m never stuck where I am and that freedom is only a tank of gas away does a lot to calm a lot of my less conscious anxieties that’ll just build when I’m getting particularly stressed. During the actual drive, once I’m on the highway or interstate, I can just relax and cruise, let my mind wander as the forefront of my mind is occupied by navigating through traffic on the interstates or watching the scenery as I drive the old state routes.
I prefer the state highways when I can take them. I dislike feeling rushed or hurried and taking a state route somewhere feels like the epitome of my “I’ll get there when I get there” attitude. There are some really wonderful hills and almost deserted back-country state routes in Wisconsin. Route 12, once you get past the Wisconsin Dells, is probably my favorite drive. Sprawling vistas, forests blanketing hills, and some beautiful rock striations when they have to cut through the hills rather than of around or over them.
Now that winter is closing it, it’ll be difficult to find a pleasant drive or get anywhere far away without using an interstate. Even through the state routes are still the only real access that a lot of the small towns in rural areas have to the rest of the state, they’re not always well plowed or sanded/salted. With my tiny little 4-door Mazda sedan, a little patch of ice is all it would take to wipe me out. I’ll miss the almost-silent sound of asphalt beneath my tires (as compared to the loud scream of concrete), but I’ve still got some time until the snows start. Maybe I’ll go for a drive tomorrow, when I need a break from writing. There’s a lot of unexplored state and county routes around where I live now.
When writing a story, it is important to create conflict for your characters. A story without much conflict wouldn’t be very interesting to readers. There needs to be something going on, something at stake to hold people’s attention. However, as we all know through our own experience, a life full of enough conflict to make an interesting story can be completely exhausting. As a result, you character will probably spend some time trying to find peace. Today, write a scene in which your character either finds some peace or takes refuge in their favorite way of creating inner or outer peace. Try to include some reflect on why they’re trying to find peace or make it harder for them to find peace because the conflict of their life keeps intrude on their quiet place.
Today’s inspiration is one of my favorite “feel good about the world” songs, “Great Big Life” by Kyle Andrews. I enjoy almost all of Kyle Andrew’s music, as a lot of it sounds positive and upbeat, even when dealing with more complicated or negative issues. Another of my favorites by him, “I Don’t Want a Lump of Coal” sounds almost as upbeat as “Great Big Life” but is about being left by your significant other right around Christmas. He does a lot of the more typical love songs, but also songs about heartbreak and he mixes them so it’s not entirely clear which is which until you take the time to really listen. Even then, some of them are entirely up to how you interpret them. He has some albums that stick firmly to the softer rock/alternative genre while some entire albums start to dip into a more electronic or pop sound. He makes for great light listening, perfect for background music to just about anything.
If you’re trying to finish your NaNoWriMo project by doing a couple day-long marathons around the holiday, it can be hard to sit in one place for very long and trying to move someplace with a less stagnate environment (like a coffee shop or library) can be distracting given the higher-than-usual number of people out and about. If you’re still determined to try, make sure to break up your writing session with breaks. Write for 45-90 minutes at a time, with a few couple-minute breaks mixed in to prevent you from getting too distracted. Do a little bit of research or look up some music. After your 45-90 minutes is done (and you’ll know its done once you start pulling up Facebook or some other social media), actually get up from your computer and go make a cup of tea. Leave your phone behind and let you mind wander as you wait for the water to boil. If you want a cold beverage, find a window to look out for a bit or have a conversation with someone around your place. Once the tea is make and ready for sipping or the conversation has ended, get back to work. As fun as breaks for facebook or video games can be, you also need a break from your screen and electronics just as much as you need to let your brain rest from writing.