Friday, August 19, 2011

Relaxing into Writing

I haven’t done anything today. Nothing, that is, except watch the ways light can move through the branches of a tree, nothing but sit on this old bench outside the library, under the portico, beside a slow moving pond.
It’s been a long time since I’ve relaxed. And I feel great.
In general, I’m reluctant to slow down because I can’t stand not accomplishing anything, yet I’ve achieved more sitting on this bench, watching the leaves dance, than I have in months of spinning my wheels in the muddy banks of busyness.
I’ve written ten pages while looking at this tree, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to write like this—freely, openly, without inhibition or distraction. The sitting and watching, the not thinking, the not worrying, the gentle kisses of air—they are little muses beaconing me back to the life of the soul, back to the life of art.
And it occurs to me that of all the things we do to write, of all the preparations we make, the most important one is to relax, to quiet our minds, to be present in the moment, and to love and learn the things about which we will write by giving them the time they need to express their treeness to us, their pondness, their benchness.
Relaxation is industry, in the best sense of the word. The greatest of scientists will tell you that stepping away from a problem is often the best way to solve it. So go crazy, live a little today: Leave your computer at home on your desk, leave the dirty dishes piled up in the sink, leave the carpet unvacuumed and the paperwork in messy, disheveled stacks, and head to the park or the beach or even your own backyard, and just sit and watch, sit and write. It may end up being be the best "work" you've done in a long time!


  1. Your point about relaxing and letting it flow is so true--you have to cut the tether to daily life's "to-do list" and get to the writing.

    However, I find it tough to write in absolute silence or by longhand. I usually set the mood with music. As I write a lot of mystery/thriller and spooky stuff, I often play a music by Mark Snow (X-Files composer) in the background. Very atmospheric.

    When I write longhand I have a hard time keeping up with the frenetic pace of my characters (and my hand cramps up!). I also have the penmanship of a doctor on a bad day and can't read my own writing. Not good.

    Great post, Melissa!

  2. So true, Alex - and I love the way you said it - cut the tether. It makes me imagine the writer afloat in a sea of creativity, back to the shore, with a cut and frayed rope dangling into the water.

    That music sounds perfect for your genre! I love to listen to music when I write, but it can't have words in English, or I get distracted.

    Thanks for your great comment!

  3. I hopped over from Goodreads. This was lovely.
    Wishing you a delightful and peaceful day.

  4. Beautiful post, Melissa. I so hope to follow your example. To relax, really, is an art in of itself. But it truly does open up the world. :)

  5. Thank you, Jen. How right you are. It is an art!

  6. Thank you, Donna! I'm so happy that you're here!