Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Living in the Moment by Trudi Trueit (March Theme)

I love to write. I have been telling stories since I was seven years old. I can't think of anything more exhilarating, satisfying, and agonizing than writing. Yes, agonizing. Finding just the right word at just the right time can be a devil of a challenge, not to mention creating three-dimensional characters, wrestling with plot lines, or revising manuscripts only to revise them again and again and again. Writing can be even more demanding if you earn your living by your pen, as Jane Austen would say. And I do. Since 2002, I have published 81 children’s fiction and nonfiction books. In addition, I wrote 18 titles that never saw the light of day because the publisher changed direction or went out of business. And I have another three books that are in the pipeline. Yep, I've been busy! It's a good busy, though, and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. However, when writing is how you earn your keep, you don’t have the luxury of taking a week off to dip your toes in the ocean whenever you are weary or uninspired. You must forge ahead. Deadlines are pressing. Editors are waiting

Still, I know it’s important for a writer to take breaks. Your mind needs quiet time to reflect on works in progress. It needs to meet new people, explore new places, and have new experiences in order to fuel your imagination. Sometimes, your brain needs to do nothing but listen to the breeze skitter through the leaves. It needs to rest. These pauses are the sorbet that refresh your palate between courses. They are essential. But how can I fit them into my whirlwind of a writing life? How about you? Maybe you don’t write for a living, but what if you’re holding down a full-time job and writing in your spare time? How are you supposed to recharge when you can barely grab an hour here and there to tap those keys in the first place? The pressure is on. Sit butt in chair. Write! Now! 

It’s taken me a little while to figure out how to juggle it all; how to accomplish what must get done, continue my lifelong love affair with writing, and still retain my sanity. My secret is taking what I call Me Moments – short breaks that help me reflect, rest, and recharge. They can last for a half hour up to a weekend and there are only three rules:

1. I have to be in the moment, which is what originally sparked the name. This might mean taking a few hours away to watch a movie, going on a day-long photo safari with my husband, making a quick trip to the bookstore, or simply crocheting while I listen to music. If I’m taking a walk, I give myself leeway to mull over what I am writing, but not for the whole outing. The goal is to focus on the thing that is providing my much-needed pause from writing, not ignore it.

2. It has to be something I want to do, not something I have to do. I like puttering in the garden, and doing things like planting flowers or painting a garden bench. But I hate weeding, so that little chore doesn't count as a Me Moment.

3. I am to take a Me Moment every day. I confess, this is the one rule I fracture more than any other. Sometimes, I can get so busy that by the time I look up from my work, it's well past seven o'clock in the evening. I make excuses but the truth is I know better. I can always find a half hour in my day to work out, relax with a book, or have tea with a friend. Work should not be all consuming, even if it is my dream job. Once a month, I take a full day away from writing. What do I do? Anything I want. Or nothing at all. 

Also, I try to take several extended breaks during the summer. My husband is a high school photography teacher (and I enjoy photography as a hobby), so I arrange for a light schedule in July so we can spend time together and travel. We’ll take day-trips or long weekends to shoot pictures of landscapes or wildlife. You never know what delightful surprises await when you set out on an adventure  . . .

                                         Photo by Bill Trueit (c) 2012
The biggest lesson I have learned as a full-time writer is - gulp - I don’t have to take every nonfiction contract I am offered. It’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes (boy, did it take me a long time to be able to say that sentence without cringing). If you write in your spare time, don't put pressure on yourself to reach a certain word count each week or tell yourself you have to write every day. Perhaps, you can carve out 15 or 20 minutes a day, or maybe it's more convenient for your schedule to write for a couple of hours at night or on the weekend. Balance. It's all about balance. Isn't it always? 

Speaking of which, while I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve also been swapping text messages with a librarian for a school visit, printing off mailing labels to send promotional books to contest winners, and on the phone holding for HP tech support (it’s been 22 minutes and I am seriously beginning to doubt whether my call is truly important to them). Oh, and the roof is leaking. I have a feeling today’s Me Moment is going to involve a hot bubble bath and a lot of chocolate  . . .

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Trudi Trueit writes the Secrets of a Lab Rat series and a bunch of nonfiction for children. Check out the trailer for her newest tween title, Stealing Popular (Aladdin MIX) and visit her website at www.truditrueit.com

5 comments:

  1. Busy doesn't cover it, Trudi! So impressed by your output...

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  2. I love the "me moment" idea. So simple, yet something I never thought of at all.

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  3. Thank you, Holly! I've been very fortunate to work with some fine publishers and editors, who have made the busy-ness (and business) a joy! @ Lizzie, Thanks! I think we all need 'me moments,' no matter what our career! Wonder what you will do with yours?

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  4. Your 'Me Moments', artist dates, and meditation are excellent ways to rejuvenate the muse!

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  5. Thanks, Marcia! I am amazed at how even a short amount of time away can make such a big difference in recharging my writing batteries!

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