Summer and yard work — something that wasn’t synonymous for me until last year, when I noticed nature was taking over over back yard. Privet and both English ivy and its evil cousin poison ivy had crept in like Malcolm’s army. My tidy German soul took offense and I took up pruning shears to combat it. I found I enjoyed making order out of chaos.
All last summer I chopped limbs and yanked up roots, no doubt confounding the trash men who came around every Monday morning to a new heap of black yard trash bags. I wore out several pairs of gloves and two pairs of rubber boots.
I didn’t finish the task, and started where I left off as soon as it got warm enough this year. It’s beginning to look like I never will be done, as along with the new pruning, there is the maintenance work where I have already chopped and weeded.
I have discovered there is something about using your body that shakes your mind loose. While working in the yard, I do a lot of writing — in my head. Scenes are played out, characters are given more layers. I play with ideas for a new story or try out possible solutions to a plot line that has wandered out of control.
If you are stuck in your story and can’t see how to correct it, or if you are stuck completely and avoiding your computer (or legal pad, if you write your first draft by hand), let me suggest finding some task that uses brawn and not so much brain. You may not want to do yard work. Taking a long walk will do the trick just as well.
It doesn’t matter what activity you decide on, but it has to be outside the house, completely away from your writing environment.
Let your story flow freely through your mind. Unleash the power of your subconscious. Explore possibilities without censoring them.
Then, when the aha! moment arrives, you can go back to your writing.
And bring order to the chaos of your manuscript.