As in any part of life, sometimes our writing gets in a rut. Either we’re doing the same old thing over and over again with no results, or we can’t seem to get it together at all. My rut this year has had elements of both. Sometimes something kicks us in the butt and makes us change up our routine – and that kick can get us out of our rut.
My kick came in the form of a temp job. John is in between projects and I was feeling like I should do something to help. My $10 a month from Amazon doesn’t go very far towards our rent. So I called up my temp agency to see what they had. The job I got was a twisted combination of great and horrible.
“It’s a publishing company”, the representative told me.
A publishing company? In my little town? Could I be so lucky? I remembered reading there was a Christian book distributor a couple towns over; could it be there?
“You’ll be working in the warehouse, pulling books to be shipped out,” she said.
Thunk. (That’s the sound of the other shoe falling.)
Right. Of course. Because it’s the hottest summer people can remember, and I hate being hot and sweating. Of course that’s the job I would get. (Insert growing bad attitude here.)
Then she told me how much I’d be paid. It’s been nearly 20 years since I got paid so little. I couldn’t decide if this job would be humbling or straight out humiliating. (Increasingly bad attitude battles with attempts to thank God for providing a job in the first place.)
So for the last two weeks I pulled construction books out of a warehouse and wheeled them over to shipping. All day long. By the time I got home from work every night, my feet and back and neck hurt from the work. (I think it might be a sign I need new tennis shoes that my feet hurt every day. The arches must’ve lost their support over the last few years. I wonder how often you’re supposed to replace tennis shoes for healthy, unhurting feet.)
I wanted to work on my superhero book at night, but I just fell onto the couch when I got home, breathing deeply and trying to relax. Then I’d chow down on dinner because now I was so hungry every night! And since it’s an unnaturally hot summer, and our area has no air conditioning in houses or apartments because we’re near the ocean, our apartment was in the 80s inside when I came home. The best I could do to stay cool was soak my shirt in cool water and sit in front of the fan. I was fairly miserable the first week.
The weather cooled down slightly at the beginning of the second week, and we were catching up on orders so sometimes I got to sit inside at a desk and do actual accounting. I got to know my co-workers a little since I was inside, and that made the job easier because they’re all really nice people.
But I was still freaking out about getting my superhero book edited and off to Harper Voyager by their October 14 deadline. And I was still too tired to do much at night. And too hot. I checked the weather and it was supposed to get even hotter by the time my job ended! Thursday night I had the brainstorm to call our timeshare company and see if there were any openings anywhere within driving distance this week. There was!! (THANK YOU, GOD!!!)
So yesterday we drove 2 hours (in an air conditioned car) to a timeshare where I can write all day (in air conditioning) to prep my book for submission. I don’t think I can get it done in one week, especially since John’s birthday is tomorrow and that will require some fun time off to celebrate, but this is what I learned in that warehouse.
Sometimes you have to change your routine for a little while in order to come back to your work with more energy.
During those ten days in the warehouse, I couldn’t help but think that if I was going to work this hard for someone else – hard manual labor, sweating through my clothes, exhausted and unable to move at the end of the day – I could and would work that hard for myself!
Being someplace else, doing something else, makes the neurons in your brain fire in new ways. Learning something completely alien and new makes your brain work differently. I’ve been reading a lot about this in a variety of neuroscience books (fascinating stuff!!) and I’ll share more of that with you next week. I’m hoping that this week, with all the changes from the last couple weeks, my brain is even better equipped for creating a crazy fun story people will want to read.
So keep in mind that changes – even seemingly negative ones – can be good for helping you create new and better routines. With that in mind, I’m going to curl up with my laptop in this wonderfully cool room and work furiously away on my superhero story! We’ll see next week how much being someplace different helped me get work done. 🙂