Laundry-inspired creative writing, who would have ever thought? Over the past month I have found myself really stuck to get words down on the page. My usual morning writing rituals have completely stalled. I have not been able to muster the motivation or head space to reach deep into the places that writing tends to be such a helpful outlet for me. There have been many days that have felt overwhelming. I’ve been having a lot of big emotions. The disconnect between this season of uncertainty and my ability to use writing as a way to process has hit me harder than I would have imagined.
When things feel really big or overwhelming for me, one of the things I try to do is to start with something small that I can do. I tend to reach for fundamental things that ground me or help me find balance in my life and emotions. These are things like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy breakfast. Drinking a big glass of water before I reach for my first cup of coffee. Showering and shaving my legs and going outside whenever I can to breathe fresh air.
Then I try to find small ways to feel productive.
Even the most mundane or ordinary tasks offer a sense of satisfaction and helps me stay grounded when I feel overwhelmed. I always come back to that old saying “control the controllables.” Small things like making my bed, emptying the dishwasher, clearing off my desk, or folding a load of laundry can feel like accomplishments on high stress days. These things give me a strange little boost of energy.
I wondered if I could find a way to apply these same kind of baby steps to my writing life. Callie Feyen’s 40-Days of Writing the Everyday prompts were really sparking my inspiration in early March. I was really on a roll meeting my March goal of writing every day. Then the pandemic hit and every aspect of life as we know it got turned upside down. I spent about 2 full weeks without writing at all. Not my usual morning pages, not blog posts, no daily prompts or anything for that matter. I just couldn’t muster the energy.
Then one night, while mindlessly scrolling well past bedtime, I came across Nicole Gulotta’s 30-days of Haiku challenge on Instagram. It really sparked my creative energy in a way I hadn’t felt in weeks. Haikus seemed like perfect way to start small with writing again after a lull in my creativity. To get moving again. I had been writing about everyday life back in early March with prompts from that original writing challenge. I wouldn’t say I had anything from them to phone home about but each one was something. Writing those prompts was a good exercise, definitely good practice.
I’ve learned that writing requires practice.
After weeks of not writing, I had gotten out of shape. Lost my touch, so to speak. This is something that happens to soccer players after periods of time when they don’t touch a soccer ball! I’m familiar with this on a physical level as an athlete but I have never experienced it on a creative level that I was able to recognize before. Starting small with haikus was a great first small step to get myself back to gently flexing those creative muscles again.
So I started with a haiku about late night scrolling and then wrote another while folding laundry.
Since that late night on Instagram, I haven’t run any creative 5Ks or even really made it around the “block” (metaphorically speaking) without sucking wind. But I have picked up my pen again and written some small things: a few Haikus, another couple of prompts from the every day, and I’ve returned to my morning writing rituals. And all of those creative baby steps feel like progress.