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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Changes in Latitude? Change Your Attitude! Writing on the Move

Maybe it’s the 80 degree weather down here in the south that made me think of that old Jimmy Buffet song. I’m writing this post from my new (or I could say, most recent) house in Georgia, with the kitchen counter serving as my office. My husband and I have been in the Peachtree State for exactly one week and two days on official military orders. Our household goods are still in transit somewhere between I-25 south of Denver and west of I-95 Atlanta, as far as we know. I can’t say we’re completely roughing it. We do have the luxury of metal fold-out chairs, Chinese take-out, and the Internet.

To be serious, most people will experience a move during their lives. It’s hard on everyone, but for writers, we tend to take an already stressful situation and compound it with guilt over not being as productive as we think we should be. How can we stay at or near our level of productivity when life is all packed up on the U-Haul?

·      Start with your attitude
This one has been a toughie for me because the moves we do in the military are beyond my control. In the past three years, my husband and I have relocated four times to different states. That being said, no one has the power to alter my perspective but me. The same goes for you. Have you embraced the changes in your life by accepting that transitions can get crazy messy, or are you telling yourself that you can’t/won’t write until everything returns to normal? Getting settled takes a while. You may even find that your old routine doesn’t work like it used to. Letting go of the idea that life has to present an ideal environment for you to write is the first step towards recapturing your productivity. Who knows? You might just like the new normal.

·      Lose the great expectations
     “I’m going to write a thousand words today.” “I’m going to have this story completed by the end of the week.” That’s what I said the last couple of times that I left an empty house and faced an open road. I felt like I needed to make up for lost time that could have been spent in the office. This mentality killed the progress I did manage to make. The twenty-minute writing session I squeezed in between unpacking the boxes was not good enough in comparison to the blocks of hours I had at my disposal before I moved. Am I saying don’t have goals? No, but tailor them to what you can achieve at the moment. If all you have time for is five minutes of character sketches while the TV dinner is heating up in the microwave (or in our case, on the stove), then in that five minutes, give it all you got. And be proud of yourself for having taken that time to be productive.

·      Establish familiarity in your new place, but don’t get precious
We all know writers that can’t start a session unless they’re sitting near the east window of their houses with the filtered sunlight warming their backs. They have to have their favorite pens and the right acid-free, archival quality notebook next to their laptops before they even think of words to put down. Obviously, this will not do if all you have is the floor for a chair and an empty box to rest your computer upon. By all means, have a few creature comforts on hand to make yourself feel more at home as you write, but don’t think you have to create a zen den in order to get anything done. It all goes back to attitude and letting go of the myth of the ideal environment.

·      Get plugged in!
One of the best things about moving to a different area is the opportunity to discover new things you’ve never seen or done before. When the boxes are scattered all over the house and the kids are screaming because they don’t know what else to do with themselves, take a family tour around the neighborhood, or go by yourself if you wish. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells. You might catch a conversation from the locals that sparks a story idea in your head. Better yet, go up to them and introduce yourself. The best writers are those who’ve actually experienced life and lived to tell about it.

·      And finally…
Trust God to steady your landing. You took a huge leap of faith by moving.  If you embrace where you are right now, He will make sure you reach the destination He planned for you and your writing.

Brandi Boddie is the author of the forthcoming Brides of Assurance series. Her debut novel, tentatively titled Garters For Lace, is scheduled for release in Fall 2013. In addition to writing, she is a fellow traveler with her husband on the road of life. Along the way, she takes the time to enjoy swing dancing, costuming, and the perfect cup of coffee. She and her family currently reside in sunny Georgia with their resident food critic, a cocker spaniel named Noodle.  


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