How I write: broken bones

crutchesI recently dropped a chair on my little toe. The chair was fine, my toe not so much. After the immediate desire to scream and swoon had passed, I was left with an ugly, purple mushroom of a toe and an aching desire to watch the world burn (I get aggressive when injured).

If you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with how I write…well, I’m one of those people who sees a connection between what happens to their body and what’s going on in their life. Burn my leg—I’ve been a raging lunatic about something. Persistent colds—I’m mentally drained and my life is in disorder. It’s the Louise Hay way, I suppose.

The last time I had a foot injury (I sprained my ankle while falling into the ocean via an 8m rockwall), google gleefully summarised that my mishap was a physical manifestation of my refusal to move forward in my life.

Does this sound weird? Far-fetched? Maybe, but for me it had a ring of truth. I’d sprained my ankle at a time when I was miserable at work, not writing, and unable to find a way past an increasingly depressed outlook. So I left my job, wrote like crazy and worked on some self-respect.

It all sounds a bit drastic and daft. Who would uproot their life because they sprained their ankle? Of course it’s not as simple as that, but sometimes you need a trigger for self-reflection and change.

So when I broke my toe, I took it to mean a similar warning sign: I’d been neglecting some pretty important things in my life. One of them was, again, my writing. For a myriad of reasons, writing had taken a backseat, and while life sometimes demands this (and it’s okay if it does!), I had entered a cycle that could easily continue for a very long time if I refused to make some changes.

By the time the icepack came off, the laptop was powered up and I was working on a new production schedule for my writing. Part of that involved new writing prompts, an achievable daily word count, and configuring Scrivener to suit my redrafting needs. Within a few days I’d written my way out of a problematic scene that had bothered me for weeks and discovered new turning points for my redraft. It’s been consistent progress since then.

I mention all of this because my biggest writing breakthroughs come when I make room for change. And it doesn’t always have to be extreme. Quite often it’s the opposite. Things like moving my writing desk to a different part of the room; going to a new writing location each day for a week; walking more (so good for generating ideas); reading books that turn my beliefs on their head; meeting new people; volunteering; and dressing up to go out when I’m just going to sit in front of the laptop and eat marshmellows.

Changing your lifestyle even in tiny ways can clear the cobwebs, jolt you out of a rut and let fresh ideas flow. Trust me, it works.

Let’s just hope you don’t need to break bones to get your writing life in alignment.