I’ve had a bad few weeks. For months on end, I’d been a voracious sandstorm, scouring the pages and leaving bleached bones of words upon the storied sands. Word counts trembled. My MacBook turned itself on the instant I walked into the room. I measured sleep in minutes and marched steadily toward my goals, dreams and deadlines. Then the Scourge hit.
It wasn’t writer’s block. It wasn’t a “Wall”. It was an insidious and unnameable cloak of stagnation, descending upon me like a Stygian veil. The drive and focus were sucked from my body like I was Chupa Cabra’s last meal. I became a zombie, spending my time away from my computer and away from my projects. As the days passed, the separation between man and word grew larger. Not good.
The sky was not falling, it had fallen. Doom. DOOM! [cue thunder and dramatic rattling of loud rattle devices]
But then we went away. A family vacation to the beauty of the Poconos, Pennsylvania. Hickory Run State Park. I didn’t bring my laptop, or my Nook, not even my BlackBerry. My wife had hers in case of emergency. I wanted no technological poison to get in the way for I knew what I needed to do. I needed to recharge. I needed to embrace the energy permeating the rocks, roots, rivers and brambles of Mistress Nature.
“Dance freely with me, wild, Sylvan muse,
upon the lichen bed where lie my tired head.
Dance beneath the whispers of the world whose
ancient tongues breathe life into the dead.”
We hiked trails and climbed over and around rocks and boulders. We scampered over waterfalls and swam in forest streams. We skipped stones in rambling creeks and ate wild berries. It was relaxing. It was simple and damn it, it lifted the plague from my soul. It wasn’t planned, wasn’t even thought of. It just happened.
And now, I’m back in the game. I feel better and I’m back at the keyboard, raring to go. I have stories to tell and characters to share. I”m throwing my arms up and doing the wave. Ok, maybe not that far. Ah hell, yes. I JUST did the wave. Bam! That JUST happened. In other words: Void GONE.
I know we all, as writers, hit sinkholes and quicksand. We lay snares for ourselves or drop rusty old bear traps of stress just waiting to snap our ankles in half. We self-sabotage and distract and often we battle forward. But sometimes all that fighting drains the battery. No charge. Zip. Not even an attempt to defibrillate does anything. Because we’re trying too hard. Sometimes you just need to step away from everything.
A day. A weekend. A week. Get away and recharge. Do something besides writing and Tweeting, texting and blogging. Take a few days away from word counts and edits. Let life take your hand and you’ll find that by stepping away, you will leap forward.