Last year was, above all else, an uncompromising creative effort to finish what I started. My mind, messy with factual and fictional images, either utilized or trashed, kept me in constant wonder. Immersed in the fabric of my plot, characters, dialogue, and information, I felt isolated—not my typical self, abandoning friends and family for fictional companions. A never-ending weaving and conceiving, I arrived at a worthy conclusion. Now what?
There is no such thing as downtime when you’re in the thick of your story. Even performing the most mundane of daily choirs, your mind is still at the computer, thinking about gnarly situations to rescue your characters from. Okay, now the story is finished. You’ve reached a new pinnacle. Are you aching to branch out to new characters and worlds? Hold on. Bask in your achievement for a moment. An exhausted mind can’t be productive. So it’s time for a little relaxation.
Downtime is crucial and may aid the creative process. Step away from the computer, immerse yourself in you! Try open monitoring meditation which is the practice of mindfulness, being aware of your thoughts and feelings and observing without attachment. Simply put, it is the act of listening to the “voice in your head” and “awareness.” Quiet the mess from the creative process to stillness and peace (Zen). Open monitoring meditation can be performed anywhere, in a quiet yoga pose, hiking through the park, or performing daily chores. Being aware of your breath and surroundings without any judgment reduces racing thoughts and anxiety. This can be practiced several times a day until it becomes a consistent part of your life.
Downtime can also mean doing absolutely nothing. In a society where we’re always doing, not doing can be curative. Sit back, kick up your heels, and just be as lazy as you want. But not too long! Unplug from digital gadgets, social media, and just listen to your own thoughts.
Downtime should also be a chance to reconnect with family and friends. Immerse yourself in the real world and when you’re ready to write the next book; your mind will be sharper.
But there’s one caveat, don’t stay away too long. Take just enough time to re-center your, mind, body, and soul. Suddenly, you will feel refreshed, and ready to visit your favorite writing spot and restart the creative process.
Photo: Courtesy of Edu Grande at Unsplash