Fortune Cookie Friday: Work That R & R
I have a little bit of traveling coming up, but I need to stay on top of my scheduled tasks. Posts and books don’t write themselves, and someone has to pay the bills (it’s really my hubby). Unfortunately, it is difficult to get much work done when the sun is shining, and I want to be outdoors. Luckily, I worked like an ant for the last nine months rather than the grasshopper.
In case you’re not familiar with Aesop’s Fable “The Ant & the Grasshopper,” I have included below.
One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants was bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.
“What!” cried the Ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?”
“I didn’t have time to store up any food,” whined the Grasshopper; “I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.”
The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust. “Making music, were you?” they cried. “Very well; now dance!” And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.
There’s a time for work and a time for play.
I want to say that I was the ant every day, but that would be a lie. There were some days that I sat at my desk and tried to convince myself to work to no avail. If I were to succumb to any of the Seven Deadly Sins, it would be Sloth. Fortunately, the productive days outnumbered the sloth days, and it made a difference.
I give fate a little credit for keeping me on track. If it weren’t for my unfortunate accident on the ski slopes over the winter, I would have been wandering the woods more. Since I was chair-bound for many months, I wrote—a lot. All this writing helped me finish one book, edit chapters of a second, and plot a third.
So, I’m ready to take a break and be the grasshopper. Well, maybe not entirely. I always have something on the back burner when it comes to my work. My creative mind makes it difficult to take a vacation, even when I need one. That’s why I regularly write down ideas everywhere—on my phone, post-it-notes, even my office windows.
When I’m not writing, I’m drawing, and I quickly lose track of time when I put pencil to sketchpad or work on a digital illustration. I can sit down at my desk in the morning and forget to take breaks. Before I know it, people are asking me, “What’s for dinner?”
I do have to remind myself occasionally to let that grasshopper come out and play. One can’t burn the candle at both ends. Everyone requires a break to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul, and writers are no exception. It is during these downtimes that the body and brain get a chance to relax and synchronize. When everything is functioning correctly, my creativity increases exponentially. For me, that creativity is pure soul food. This renewed vitality will keep me going for many months.
So, what does someone that revels living in a fantasy world do for fun? Well, read on and find out.
As a writer, I need to stay current with the industry. I especially need to read in my genre. Reading children’s fiction is supposed to be work, but I can’t help but consider it as downtime. There is something very satisfying about falling into the worlds between the pages of a book. I get a similar release from watching movies, although there is less of the story left to the imagination.
There are times I set the books aside and run down the rabbit holes of research. I am easily distracted by learning new things, especially on the internet. Knitting, foraging edible plants, and learning a bit of coding are some of the subjects that caught my attention in the past.
My kids get me hooked on various YouTube channels—those darn kids—and sometimes I wander off and see what’s new on them. Lately, I’ve taken to Overly Sarcastic Productions, a “sarcastic, yet informative, summaries of classic and not-so-classic literature and mythology, as well as major historical events!”
The creators speak fast, but I can always pause it to catch up with everything going on in the background. Some of YouTube can be mind-numbing, but channels like this are a nice change of pace.
Reading is usually at the top of my list of relaxation, but it adds to my too-sedentary type of job. Let’s face it; it’s difficult to perform some tasks while working out. Sure, I can write or dictate my stories while using a stationary bike, but it incredibly challenging to draw while moving around. I gave it a shot once, and although I did create a picture, it was not my best work.
When I need a break from the grind, and I feel that my butt is expanding beyond the physical realm of my pants, I go to the gym, or better yet, get out into nature. Hiking, paddling, and camping are some of my favorite activities.
Not only do I get some exercise from these activities, they inspire my creative mind. I almost always have a camera with me when I am on excursions. I also always carry a pen. You never know when creativity will hit or when the beauty of nature strikes that perfect pose.
Although we can do these outdoor activities on our own, I recommend bringing a buddy. Safety is the main factor of concern, but another is social interaction. One of the most important things a writer can do is be around people. We are a reclusive breed, and mixing it up with other humans is very beneficial. We need to watch people, hear them speak, and let our senses take in society. We need these interactions so that we can write about them and become better writers.
One doesn’t need to go to the mountains or a gym to get a little exercise. All we need is a place to ambulate. I love venturing out to malls and fairs to watch people do what people do. Maybe I’m a freak, but I enjoy describing them in my head—how they walk, the color of their hair, or their interactions with others. If I don’t have people from which to draw my inspiration, I use animals or plants, but people are a lot more entertaining.
There are times that I can’t afford a long break from my work—deadlines creep towards me, or I’m up to my eyeballs in finances and marketing. At times like these, I play some music to soothe the soul.
The earliest forms of music were probably percussive. Rocks and sticks were easily available, and our bodies have their internal rhythms to get us in the groove. Later, harps and flutes created by the early Egyptians led humankind down the road to all sorts of instruments.
Music comes in so many different forms, and there is something for everyone. Our favorite tunes can calm or excite us, make us laugh or cry, and even tell a story. I’m not a musician, but I will sing along with my favorite songs whenever I get the chance, especially when driving.
Lately, I have found making playlists of various songs helps me plot out my stories. Much like the soundtrack of a movie, I can set the mood for a particular scene, and the music helps me conceptualize it into words.
Work That R & R
I am eager to have a little fun, and the work I have completed will allow me to do just that. I can write, then read, or work on marketing to some music. There is a time for work and play, and if we do it right, we can make these two tasks work together and optimize our time.
Okay fans, I’m off to be an ant and a grasshopper—an anthopper…or something like that. Have fun!