Thursday, September 5, 2013

How I recharge my batteries

by April Henry

Our theme this month is how we recharge our batteries.

I'm going to be reading my fellow YAOTLer's posts because I suck at this.

This year I will turn in three books. At one point, through no fault of my own, I had to write 90,000 words in 9 weeks - and they had to be clean.  Not a first draft, but polished.  And I was doing a week of school visits in Texas during this time.

I'm looking at a similar situation by the end of year, with another book due in March.  Plus I'm going to be temporarily relocating so I can be with someone at the end of their life.

Some things I used to do to recharge my batteries don't work as well as they did in the past:

- Running. I have been fighting a variety of problems, like a tight piriformis. My jog has turned into more job than joy. On the plus side, I think I'm beginning to understand why I have problems (years and years of twisted, crappy posture) and I'm making progress in untangling them.

- Reading. How can reading not be a joy?  But I'll let you in on a horrible little secret. The more you write, the more you recognize other writer's tricks and ticks. That's expository dialog, you'll hear a little voice in your head saying. Or Where was the editor? This book needed to lose about a hundred pages.  Or The only reason the character is doing this is because you, the author, need him to get in trouble a few chapters down the road. Quite a few of the books I pick up now I don't finish, and I never used to do that.

- Eating. This has never actually worked in the past, but now I've got the added insult that I gain weight. (I was super skinny as a teen and used to have a milkshake and chips every day for lunch in the hope that I would gain weight.)

- Watching favorite TV shows.  I checked email and surfed during the last episode of True Blood this year.

- The one thing that has helped and continues to help is kung fu. I'm always a little bit scared (or more than a little bit).  I'm not a naturally gifted athlete. I'm old enough to be some of my sparring partners' mom.  But six or so hours a week, I can be someplace where I do not think about anything other than kung fu.

- Travel. I will be in New York in a few days, and I'm hoping the museums and the walking and the people watching and the eating will go a ways to recharging me for the challenges that lie ahead.


5 comments:

  1. I also find that I'm a pickier reader now--but it's a joy to find books where I really admire what the author is doing. (Of course, that's also distracting in that the writer part of my brain hangs back going: "Ooh, I love how she did that! I must remember that tool for my own writing!")

    Just sitting on my porch has been a great recharger this summer.

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  2. I hope you enjoy your time in New York! You deserve it after turning in three books and writing 90,000 words in nine weeks. You've inspired me to get my butt in gear.

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  3. Holy moly--90,000 words in nine weeks! You have my undying admiration...

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  4. yes -- holy cow! 90k in 9 weeks! Eek! I bow to you! Also yes to the reading thing: I DO read differently now. I think that's why I find myself reading outside of my genre a lot. Because I'm less prone to my brain drifting into analyzing craft. :) Enjoy NYC!

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  5. Oh, April, you have worked your butt off!!! No wonder it's hard to recharge. I'm glad the kung fu is helpful and I hope your trip to NYC helps too. Traveling or even just walking around new parts of my own city tends to help me a lot.

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