A few weeks ago I was walking at low tide on a beach in Cape Cod and came upon these boats that would remain stranded until the tide came in. I guess I was in a sentimental mood because as I waded in the low waters looking back toward the shore at the beached boats, I was struck with a feeling of isolation. I thought to myself, “I’ve been there.”
I thought to myself, ” I am there.”
Haven’t we all been there? I’ve been beached in my life and have had to wait and wait for the waters to rise up and lift me to freedom again. It’s the same with writing. Sometimes I feel isolated, as if I’m the only one who has ever written a terrible sentence, and as if I will never write another good story again. At times I literally stare at the screen and wonder if I will ever write another story, period.
Since I was so worried I’d never come up with a decent line again, it might be surprising that while on vacation I decided not to write fiction at all. I mean, who wants to work when the ocean’s nearby? But it was more than that. I knew my writing self needed a vacation too, even though I’d originally planned to use the vacation as a sort of writing retreat. Once I was on the Cape surrounded by ocean towns, lighthouses, and sand I decided to let my stories percolate instead of putting them on the page. I decided to have a real vacation.
If you don’t write, this might sound silly, but I needed my thoughts to be beached like those boats waiting for the tide to come in. I needed to let my stories roam around in my mind and my subconscious self wade through the words before I let them out again. The hope was that while I was wading in the ocean and not writing, my story would work itself out. I wanted to soak up inspiration while visiting the Cape and hoped that once I was back home, the threads of story that had become knotted in my mind would unravel and be free to set sail.
As I waded through the ocean’s edge, I waited on my story hoping it would come back to me. And it did, eventually. Once I was back home with a rested body and mind, the tide, in the form of a story, came rushing back in.
It’s probably a good idea for all of us to give our brains a break every now and then, but it’s crucial for us creative types. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some time, because you know what? The tide always comes back in.