Monday, August 24, 2015

An Out-of-Mind Experience


Some people talk about having out-of-body experiences but as a writer, I feel like I have those almost every day. I "play" in my head with fictional characters and plot on a daily basis. So much so that sometimes I have trouble switching back to the "real world."

With two intense deadlines this summer, I spent most of the past couple months lost in my books. Which means I was in my head. A lot. 

So when I met the first deadline a few weeks ago, I sought an out-of-mind experience as a reward. I needed to get out of my head and ground myself. I scheduled a massage. I hadn't had one in over a year (mostly because I was so achy after the last one, but also because I'm horrible at taking time for myself). I was amazed at how that one hour of simply laying on a table brought me back into myself. 

After meeting the second of those pesky deadlines on this past Friday, I decided to ground myself again. After turning my book over to my editor, I visited a relative in the hospital (nothing like seeing the pain others are going through to forget your own issues), took the family out to dinner at a new restaurant, and spent Saturday reading on my covered patio, enjoying the warm breezes against my skin and the sound of hummingbirds zipping by. It was a re-awakening of the five senses.

As I write this, I have another day off before I need to start working toward my next deadline. In my crazy 2015 schedule, today I’m supposed to be looking over another book I’ve started and try to add more words (as well as compose this blog post), before starting back on edits on a different book tomorrow. Instead, I’ve decided to spend another day getting outside of my head. I’ll play with the kids, take a walk, and help that relative check out of the hospital. I’ll take my dad and my kids out for pancakes at one of their favorite places. I may even start reading a new book.

I’ll just be. With myself, no characters. 

Because while I love escaping into the stories in my head, sometimes I need to leave there and be more aware of myself and my surroundings. Hmm… Maybe I’ll sign up for the yoga class across the hall from my massage place this week. It's important to take time for myself as much as my characters.

What do you do to ground yourself? Any tips for centering yourself in the real world?


She writes to reclaim her sanity.
Find ways to connect with Anne Marie at www.AnneMarieBecker.com. There, sign up for her newsletter to receive the latest information regarding books, appearances, and giveaways.

18 comments:

Sandy Parks said...

Good question, Anne Marie. With my kids out of the house, I now take a lot more time for myself. I actually find it relaxing to get in my head with my characters. Different stages in life make writing challenges vary. With less time to write because of family, focus was easier if more exhausting. With more time to myself, focus is actually harder.

Anne Marie Becker said...

So true, Sandy! My most difficult time of day is when I have to set the writing aside (and get out of my head) to go pick up the kids. Hard to shift focus when there are so many demands on our time.

jean harrington said...

Just last Monday, one of my critique partners said he used to read for escape, now he writes for escape. From his other life stresses, I assume. But there's no escape from deadlines, Anne Marie. Hopefully now that school has begun, your schedule will be a bit less demanding--leaving more time for the demands of writing!

Kathy Ivan said...

I've been pushing hard this year too, and will continue for the rest of the year at this breakneck pace. I try to take at least one day off, usually the weekend and to the mundane things that have nothing to do with writing. Cooking, laundry, all the stuff that's definitely not part of the glamorous writer's daily routine.

When I have achieved a milestone, like finishing a book, I'll usually go to lunch or dinner wtih a few friends (who are usually writer friends LOL) and we'll talk, but mostly non-writer stuff.

Congratulations on getting through more books, and wishing you many happy sales!

Maureen A. Miller said...

I always walk around off-axis. It's that vertigo feeling of stumbling forward. No, I've only had coffee today! :)

It's football season, and this is the time of year where I draw the line. If I can't afford a few hours to watch my team play for a few months out of the year, then I'm doing something wrong.

I don't know how you keep up, Anne Marie. Congratulations to you on meeting your deadlines!

Rita said...

I seem to always be out of my mind. This morning I took myself out in the back jungle to test a new skeeter repellent and hone my chain saw skills. Nothing like having to dodge falling tree branches to get back to a reality of sorts. Now it's writing and business.
Congrats on meeting those deadlines.

Toni Anderson said...

Anne Marie, congrats on meeting your deadlines and taking some you time!

The summer always throws me off my rhythm with the kids home but I think I'm pushing myself too hard lately. I had my first ever massages in the last month and I'm going to try and keep going (although, dammit, they hurt!). I do go to yoga too. And walk the dog. My body is telling me it doesn't want to be on a computer all the time.

It's a struggle. I'm a slow writer so I'm sure others look at my pace and wonder what the heck I'm doing LOL. Ah well, I can only do what I can do.

Big hugs!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, Anne Marie. I center myself every day with the day job. The routine of getting up and off to work, and then thinking about work things all day long keep me in the here-and-now. Unfortunately, sometimes it means I have trouble getting back into the world of the story.

I get a massage every month. It keeps me from having pieces fall off. And they don't hurt at all!

Elise Warner said...

My writing helps with the personal stress in my life right now. The characters involve me in another world. When I reach the finish line, I usually clean and clean and clean--the apartment needs it and it does bring me back to reality.

Anne Marie Becker said...

@Jean. I love reading as an escape! My problem is that, in recent years, I've found myself editing in my head as I read. So annoying when I just want to relax and enjoy! LOL

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Kathy, I love that tradition of going out with friends after a book is done. Nothing like some human interaction (the adult kind, mind you) to reorient yourself in the world. (And it often leads to more plot and character ideas down the road!)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Maureen - I laughed at that image of stumbling around! Not laughing AT you, but it feels very similar to what I do. LOL

And football? Don't get me started. The excitement's building around here. We have a family fantasy league and I spent a large sum of time last night setting up my players for the draft this Friday. If I didn't invest some time in that weekly, the commissioner would be on my case. Mainly because I'm sleeping with him. LOL

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Rita, I can imagine you fighting the jungle in your own back yard and it makes me smile. (But mosquitoes? No, thank you. I suppose that's the drawback to chainsaw therapy.)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Toni - I've had some massages that hurt, too. I've learned to tell them to go easy on me. LOL Or to focus on my hands, feet, and scalp, because those are the parts that I love. I also tell them I'm a writer, so they spend more time on my forearms. About once a year, I splurge on a facial, and that's like a massage for my face. Feels so good! :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Marcelle - ah, the day job. Those do have a way of grounding us. Do you have any tricks you've found help you get back into your story after some time away? I need to start taking a day off on weekends, I think, to get some perspective, but it's always hard to get back into things when I do that, so I'm hesitant. Hmm... Sounds like a topic for a future blog post. ;)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Elise, how could I forget cleaning! Yes, my house is never so clean as when I have other things to do. (And I've found the side benefit of doing chores like that is freeing up my brain to come up with new plot twists as I scrub.)

Cathy Perkins said...

Like Marcelle, the day job keeps me grounded and dealing with too much reality.

I find getting outside with the dogs - going walkabout the property - refreshes me and keeps me from hunching over the computer all day. And one of the many things I've taken from The Artist Way is finding ways to "feed the child" - a recent Paint & Wine night with a group of local women for example. Lots of fun, creative and playing with color.

Congrats on meeting your deadlines and may your time away leave you energized to tackle the next project!

Anne Marie Becker said...

@ Cathy - thanks! I love the idea of "feeding the child" (especially with a Paint & Wine night - how fun!). :)