Monday, December 13, 2010

Deep snow and deep thoughts

Did you know that shoveling snow can increase your creativity? Physical exercise--especially a repetitive activity that requires more muscle than thought (like shoveling)--increases blood flow to the brain and frees your mind to wander and roam.

So instead of resenting the snow piling up on your sidewalk, look at it as an opportunity for some creative idea incubation. Dig, lift, grunt, toss. Dig, lift, grunt, toss. As your muscles work, give your brain an idea to chew on and see what happens. (But be careful out there! Don't let your mind wander so far from what you're doing that you create a hazard for yourself or anybody else.)

One such "shoveling meditation" you might want to ponder as the year draws to a close is the state of your writing life. How did your writing go in 2010? Was this the year that you made that initial leap from non-writer to writer? Did you achieve any specific writing goals that you'd set for yourself? Did other priorities take precedence over your writing? What would you like to do differently in 2011? What would you like to keep the same?

Did you attend any conferences, classes, or workshops or join any writing groups in 2010? Did you enjoy it and/or learn from it? Will you attend the same event again, or maybe choose something else in the future?

How is your craft coming along? What genre(s) did you write in? Would you like to stay there, or switch genres, or both? Maybe you improved your vocabulary and syntax, and now you'd like to work on plotting or character development or research skills.

Did you market any of your work in 2010? How did that go? Are there new markets you'd like to pursue? Did you enter any writing contests?

Give some thought to your personal writing practices. As you look back over 2010, do you see any patterns? Do you tend to do your best writing in the morning, afternoon, evening, or in the middle of the night? Did you write very little in the summertime but start churning out stories in the fall? Why do you think that is, and how can you take advantage of that pattern in 2011?

Soon your muscles will be tired and your brain will be full. Set down your shovel, come inside for a hot drink, and congratulate yourself on a clean sidewalk and some clear ideas on where you'll take your writing next--or where it will take you.


Norm de Ploom said...

One of the hard things for me is to look back and admit my failings. This year was not the best for writing for me in terms of productivity. Using your questions is an excellent way to evaluate my writing life and to set goals for the coming year. Best wishes for all the writers in 2011!

Jennifer Rova said...

Great questions to help keep me on a path toward goal oriented writing. Winter and late at night are my most prolific writing times. You posted at 1:39 AM. People with the same name think alike.

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Ha! Norm, no "mea culpa" intended! Just a clear-eyed look at what is, what we'd like it to be, and how to get from here to there.

Jennifer, taking advantage of your natural rhythms as much as is practical is key. For me, there's no point in trying to be even a little bit clever at 3 in the afternoon. However, that's good snow-shoveling time.:-)

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

I experienced "driving meditation" today while driving from Sandpoint to Priest River in the dark. My thoughts traveled through ideas about a writing project I will be working on after the first of the year and when I returned to reality, I couldn't remember if I had crossed the Dover bridge. Scary.