Monthly Archives: January 2022

Dear Restless Writers…

I’m really sorry.

I haven’t been pulling my weight. When’s the last time I contributed here? Too long to remember. That’s how long.

The truth is, I can’t find any words.

Well, not exactly true. I have lots of words. Too many words, but they’re all scrambled and jumbled in a heap at the end of my bed. They look like a fall leaf pile, but void of colour. And there’s a bunch that have blown under the dresser with the dust bunnies and in the back right corner of the closet behind the dress I bought for my niece’s wedding I never got to wear because of COVID. I’m sure there are some behind the toilet too. I haven’t checked. And frankly, I don’t want to.

I’m ashamed of that. I wish it was otherwise. I wish the pile didn’t overwhelm me.

I guess I could rake it up, take it to the curb and start fresh, even if I know I’ll keep finding more laying around.

Meh. I’m pretty sure a new pile will form anyway.

I wish the pile and its possibilities could excite me. Entice me to jump in and start rolling around, not caring how many get stuck in my hair. That used to feel fun. Discovering a vibrant, perfectly formed word – the quintessential series of letters that took hold and inspired me to hunt for more. Line them up. Rearrange them over and over again. Play with their shapes and sounds.

But the pile makes me feel tired right now.

Every word looks dry, like it would crunch and crumble to my touch.

I’ve left them too long. I haven’t known what to do with them. So they kept accumulating. I’m pretty sure my husband slipped and swore at one the other day. Frustrated I’m not doing anything with them.

So, here I am, asking you for more time–again. There might be a fresh one in there somewhere. Maybe soon I’ll catch a glimpse of a word I didn’t pay much attention to before that suddenly needs me to pick it up and find a better spot for it than on the floor.

That’s probably why I’ve left them there all this time. Why I keep gingerly stepping around them. Part of me likes them there. A reminder of who I’ve been and might be again.

I suppose there is hope in the pile. I’m just writing to tell you I haven’t found it yet, and I’m sorry.

– Andrea

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Confessions of an Idea Hoarder

Happy new year from the Restless Writers!

Today’s post is all about getting your new year started with a writing idea clean-up.

Imagine running out of ideas for your writing. It’s the stuff of nightmares. You sit down at your computer or pick up your pen, ready to leap into a new story, and there’s…nothing. The well has run dry. The spark has been extinguished. The horror, the horror!

I have lots of challenges when it comes to my own writing, but running out of ideas isn’t one of them. My problem is usually the opposite. I have plenty of ideas. My idea cup overfloweth. Every day I get at least one new idea, if not more. I have ideas tucked into notebooks, written on the backs of phone bills, jotted quickly into Evernote or a draft text. I have ideas that I never got around to writing down, but they’re assembled in the central idea-hub of my brain, hoping to be plucked from the crowd and turned into something amazing.

It doesn’t seem like much of a problem, right? Isn’t it better to have too many ideas instead of none?

Generally, yes. But I hoard my ideas. That idea-hub in my brain? It’s jam-packed, and I’m not sure how much more I can cram in there. My ideas are spilling out all over the place. If I’m not careful, I’ll trip over a pile of ideas while trying to do something important, like cross the street or remember my sister’s phone number.

I hesitate to throw any of my ideas out—what if I lose my best idea ever? What if I need that idea again someday, when the ideas flow more slowly?

At the same time, I’d like to get rid of some of those ideas that—let’s face it—are just not going to work out. I’d like to free up some of my brain to focus on the ideas that I can craft into good stories.

The new year seems like a good time to give my idea-hub a thorough cleaning. I have decided to take the same approach I would take to decluttering my closet: take everything and lay it all out to have a good look, and then divide all the things into four piles (or files, in this case): KEEP, REPURPOSE, DONATE, or TOSS.

Want to join me? Here’s how you can think about what goes in these piles:

  • KEEP: This pile is for those bright, precious, and meaningful ideas that you know will make great stories some day. They have longevity, impact, and potential. Keep these ideas in a file or notebook close at hand. Finish whatever it is that’s keeping you from pouncing on any one of them right now, or make the time to pick one and write it into being. Make a promise to yourself that you will focus on these beautiful ideas, one at a time.
  • REPURPOSE: You might come across ideas that are really not very good, but, when you take a closer look, you will see they have the kernel of something usable. It could be a word, a phrase, or a feeling it evokes—whatever it is, you can use that tidbit. You might also be able to re-work the idea into a different piece, like a poem instead of a novel, or a blog post or a drabble. Stash these ideas away, and see if you can work it into another piece later.
  • DONATE: Could someone else use that idea you don’t care for anymore? Give it away! Share it as a prompt on social media. Use it as an exercise for your writing group. Suggest it as an option for a fellow writer’s WIP. Be a good literary citizen, and support your fellow writers.
  • TOSS: Even the best ideas lose their luster over time. Maybe they are so dated that they are no longer workable. Maybe you came up with these ideas at a different time in your life, and now they make you cringe. You really don’t want your grand-kids to find these ideas in a dusty box in the attic after you are gone. So get rid of them. Delete, erase, bury, rub out, strike-through, burn. Make a ritual out of it, if you like, giving a small prayer of gratitude to your muse for giving you that whacked-out idea in the first place. And then get back to those good ideas.

Hopefully these tips will help you clear out some idea-junk, so you can focus on the ideas you can really work with.

Have fun with your idea clean-up—and your writing! Maria

Photo by Guilherme Rossi from Pexels

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