Posts Tagged ‘Writing’
Some days are harder than others. I don’t have to enumerate them here; I’m sure you all experience the same thing to some degree or another. When things start weighing heavily on my mind and heart, it sometimes becomes difficult to concentrate on things that I do daily. Motivation escapes me, ideas appear and evaporate like smoke spirals, and the rolodex of words I’ve acquired contains nothing but blank cards. Some times too many things run riot in my mind simultaneously, and the strain of multitasking for too long (we’re talking months here) leaves me in the exact same position. How do you make sure you don’t break? For me, there are really four ways:
Reading: I’d remove myself from my immediate issues by dropping myself into some novel or play. In fact, I think that’s why I took to Shakespeare the way I did. It demanded all of my focus and attention, and instead of thinking of issues with family, work, relationships (or lack thereof), or friends, I would be thinking about translation, historical relevance, staging, and theory. It gave my mind a new set of problems to sharpen its teeth on. Eventually, this wasn’t enough—especially when I was doing it for a living.
Writing: I’ve created hundreds of characters and story lines over the years. Some were resilient and have remained on the stage in my mind, each demanding I take down their stories. Others drifted away. Others died miserable deaths. But as any writer knows, the ideas may come as a flood, but conveying those ideas can feel like wading through molasses and mud. When faced with a character who refuses to tell you why she is doing something, or where he is going, you might imagine that writing can, at times, add to the overwhelming feeling that might have driven you there to begin with.
Diving: If there’s one thing that I miss in my life, one thing I physically ache to do, it’s diving. I dove competitively through high school and college, and I grew to love the 3 meter springboard more than 1 meter or platform. When I was upset I would dive. I always had keys to the pool, and though it was probably not the smartest thing I’ve done, I would go in when no one else was there and dive until I was exhausted. When I was finished, I would see things from a different, often calmer, perspective. Every time I stepped on a board, it was me, the board, and the water. It didn’t matter if I was competing or not—no one else existed. Problems didn’t exist. Bickering friends, or breakups, or family fights were happening to other people, not me. They couldn’t! If my mind and muscles weren’t entirely focused, I could get seriously injured. Kick too soon and I’d get whiplash; misjudge my distance, and I’d hit the board; place my hands wrong, and I’d have a concussion. And I did get hurt (I was hurt, not injured, mind you). But I was also in an accident that amplified all of those previous injuries—which is why I can no longer seek out the pool when I feel like this. I’ve never found anything to fully replace Diving, though believe me, I’ve tried. It feels like part of me is missing.
Music: The only thing that comes close to diving for me is playing music. Granted, it’s not the violin I always wanted to play, but playing the Steel Pan is equally as complicated. Music is grounded in math and art (I know this goes against my divine hatred of all things “math,” but I see it more as structure). There’s nothing quite like creating something instantly. I know if it’s right or wrong the second the mallet hits metal. I’ve been playing since I was 10, and recently I’ve returned to music, and it really has made an incredible difference. Today, for example, was a hard day for me. I came home and played Mozart’s Alla Turca, Tchiakovsky’s Trepek, Bach’s Air, and Brahms’ Requiem. None of these were perfect—but that’s exactly the point. Playing music, particularly classical music, requires a level of attention that disallows other thoughts to interfere. When I’m playing, the world and the troubles in it, disappear. When I’m finished, I can step back with a perspective that few other things could have given me. To quote Red Auerbach, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
These things may not work for everyone, of course. I’m curious to hear what you do to quiet the onslaught. Do you paint? Exercise? What rejuvenates you and clears your mind?
* “The Pause is as Important as the Note” ~ Truman Fisher