One Month Hiatus: Annnnnnd Go.

A week ago today, I started a deliciously inspiring one month hiatus following what can only be described as a summer in Hell, aka New Jersey, which consisted of 3 months of working a ridiculous number of hours a week, drinking far too much in the few off hours I had and getting very VERY little sleep. It was a summer of excess, to be sure. Though I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything as I learned a lot and was challenged in every arena of my life (not just professionally), I returned last weekend feeling physically, emotionally, mentally, and most horrifically, creatively drained.

And even worse – I’m unemployed now.

But every cloud has a silver lining, or so I’m told. And for me, that is the one month I’m taking off to write, travel, clean out my closet, exercise daily, get my oil changed and otherwise regain some semblance of a normal life, before I jump back into another project and send my life spiraling into unpredictable chaos once more.

It took about a week for me to unpack my bags, for my liver to adjust to moderation once more, and for my body to get used to being back in sunny, lovely Los Angeles, a place I never realized I loved so much until I was forced to spend 3 full months away from it in the cruel humidity and sudden downpours of New Jersey. My head has slowly stopped spinning and I’ve managed to find a nice, sharp focus to carry me through these next 3 weeks.

I’ve got plans – grand ones. I’m attacking my to-do list hungrily and striking off things left and right. This last week, I cleaned out my closet, de-cluttered my apartment and re-instated my membership at my local gym. I opened up my novel files and dusted off my notes, jumping back into a scene I haven’t worked on since June. I backed up my computer and cleaned out my hard drive. I re-registered my car and even went to the DMV to get a new license. I’ve reconnected with friends and family that I haven’t been in touch with for months. Yesterday I flew to Texas to visit my parents and friends in my hometown, which I haven’t done since March. And I leave for 2 weeks in Hawaii on Wednesday – the yearly “vacation” I take for my own mental health, where I challenge myself to try new activities, face my fears, confront my mental obstacles, escape the grind and find new focus and perspective in my life.

I’d been lost in sea of work and booze all summer. Now, I’m hitting the gym and the keyboard harder than I have in months. I’m actually being productive again. And it feels fucking fantastic.

Watch out world! Lindsay has FREE TIME!!!!!

How I Stack Up As A ‘Serious’ Writer

My current "office" - my kitchen table.

As a first step in trying to get myself to write more, I started scouring my favorite writing blogs to find some inspiration on what it means to be a writer, and I came across a post over at Aliventures called 7 Habits of Serious Writers. When I read it, I started to think about how I stack up as a ‘serious’ writer, by her definition. Besides lacking the obvious number one habit – ahem, writing itself – I’m obviously missing a few of the other habits she lists as necessary.

#1: Writing – Obviously, I do not have this hurdle conquered, otherwise I wouldn’t have started a blog to complain about how I never write. But, I am taking the first steps towards getting serious about this writing business, even if it’s starting a blog about not writing. Hey, they say that if you aren’t sure where to begin, start by writing what you know. I’m certainly an expert on being a non-writing writer.

#2: Focus – This one I fail almost as miserably at as I do actually writing. I have always had issues focusing on things for an extended period of time. I struggle with wanting to plan everything out down to every last detail, but lacking the focus to follow through. But again, hopefully by making a habit of writing in a blog as often as I can will start a disciplined habit of focusing on ignoring distractions and – hold on, wait a second, Facebook did what? I’ll be right back.

#3: Reading – Ah, FINALLY a habit I can say that I have pretty much mastered. I love books, and I love reading. I read everything from non-fiction, literary fiction, YA titles, classics, and I even have an obsession with reading old college textbooks when I have 10 minutes to kill. I rarely get rid of a book after I’ve read it and I have a ridiculous number of books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet but am dying to tackle. I can’t help it, I love being surrounded by books. Ali recommends reading half an hour a day – that’s easy for me. So, I’ve got one down. 1 for 3 – that isn’t bad. I’ll take my little victories when I can get them.

#4: Learning – Ali means learning how to write by reading about writing and paying constant attention to improving your work. I don’t think I’m doing too badly at this, either. Granted, I haven’t been writing much the last few years but I’ve certainly been reading about writing and thinking about what makes writing better. Score another one for me.

#5: Redrafting – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that without writing something, you certainly can’t redraft something. So this one is another megafail on my part.

#6: Professionalism – I’m not going to even tackle this one. I’m a writer that has a blog about the fact that I don’t write. I don’t expect anyone to take me seriously.

#7: Reflection – I think she means looking at your goals as a writer and your work as a whole as you hone your craft and trudge away towards your ultimate goal. I’d say I’m an uber-reflective person, and I definitely have goals as far as my writing goes. In fact, I fear that I reflect too much, set too many goals and struggle with actually taking the steps it takes to get to where I want to be. What little writing I actually do I think I reflect on far too much, beating myself up over the details and the fact that it isn’t what I intended, until I scrap it. I could do with a little less reflection in my life. I want to replace it with more action.

I’d say I’m 3 for 7. That isn’t too bad of a place to start, right? Hopefully the rest will come with time. But then again, I’m feeling pretty damn optimistic today. Tomorrow I may want to toss this computer out the door and start looking into joining a cult.