I haven’t posted much here in recent weeks. I have been very sick with a debilitating bout of bronchitis. It started last month – four and a half weeks ago and is still lingering around like an unwelcome bad smell. I feel – and hope – that I am over the worst of it and can get back to writing more posts here and on my other sites, Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.
Adding to my woes is the fact that we have had above average rainfall, both here in Murray Bridge, South Australia, and during our stay with family in Sydney a month ago. It has meant that I haven’t been about to get out and do some of the things I like doing, like birding and gardening. Goodness, I was so sick I did not even do a great deal of reading.
It has also meant that I have not made any progress on editing and submitting poems and short stories to magazines and competitions. I also have more editing to do on several larger novel length projects I have waiting in the wings.
I am now hopeful that as my health improves I will be able to get to these projects and see some fruit for my labours. During this enforced time of recuperation I have just had to let go of my desire to be writing long hours each day and concentrate on getting better. I guess many writers experience seasons of non-productivity. Looking through my calendar I can see that the next few months could well be one of my more productive periods.
The man shown in the photo above is an inspiration to me – and should be to everyone. While visiting Addis Ababa in Ethiopia a few years ago – our daughter was teaching there – we had the chance to visit the leprosy medical facility. We particularly wanted to support the residents by purchasing items from their craft shop. Some of the people there do amazing things, often with the hindrance of fingers missing.
This man was happily weaving a floor mat. He was full of smiles – communicating his cheerful attitude to us even though we couldn’t speak each others’ languages. The most amazing thing however, was that this positive attitude was demonstrated despite having only short stubs for fingers and thumbs. All of them. Not one was fully functional.
This man continued happily with his work, content with his lot despite the hindrance.
What a lesson for me – and many others, I’m sure.
Too often I grumble that I can’t do my writing because it’s too hot, or too cold, or I’m not well or the chair is uncomfortable or no editor will like my story or poem. Too often I allow really lame excuses get in the way of what I believe God wants me to do: write.
What hinders you from writing? Is it a real problem – or just an excuse? If it’s a problem – deal with it or get help. If it’s an excuse… well, I think we all know how to deal with that!
Read more about our visit to the leprosy facility on Trevor’s Travels here.
I came across an excellent article recently and thought I’d better share it with my readers. It seems that many writers are also walkers. They use taking a walk as an essential part of the writing process. I’ve been advocating this from time to time on this site, especially in those times when you seem not to be making progress with a piece of writing.
The article “On walking and writing” is well worth reading.
Then go out and take a walk.
I would – but I’m writing this post late at night!
Good writing – and walking.
Some writers complain that although they want to write, they just don’t know what to write about. In another life (as a classroom teacher) I constantly heard this complaint.
I rarely have this problem. In fact, I usually have far too many things to write about. My problem is choosing which one to write about first.
There are hidden treasures lurking everywhere. You just have to open your eyes to see the possibilities for writing that can crowd in upon you every day.
Start with everyday objects and let your imagination soar:
- Make a list of twenty (or 50 or…) objects in your bedroom. Now think about one object and how it came into your life. Change this to a really bizarre story. For example, the photo on the dresser is not your mother; it is the photo of a distant relative who was married to a famous explorer or an infamous mass murderer.
- Describe three objects in the room where you are sitting now. Now pick just one of them and imagine you dug it up in the garden. How did it get into your garden, and how is it now influencing your life?
- Look in the refrigerator. Take note of one thing and write about how it came to be there. Give it a life of its own, telling the story of it existence in its own voice.
- Go outside and sit in the garden. Write about the one thing in your garden you really like (or absolutely detest). Write a conversation (or argument) between you and the object.
- Walk to the nearest park with notebook and pencil. Describe one person you passed on the way. Note how they are dressed – and change their attire into something very usual, like a grandma wearing pirate clothing. Use you imagination and let her sit with you to tell her story.
- Visit your nearest shopping center with a notebook and pen and find a seat. Pick out two people in the crowd. Try to imagine what they are saying. Give them new lives, new identities. Let them tell you their story.
- Find an old magazine or newspaper and open it at random, picking out a photo at random. Use the photo as a starting point to your story. For example, if it is a photo of a young man advertising deodorant, imagine him doing something adventurous, or heroic or courageous. Bring the photo – and the subject – to life.
Story ideas are lurking everywhere; you just have to have eyes to see them.