Decompression (Patty Blount)

This month, we're blogging about ways we recharge and relax and deal with the many pressures of trying to balance our writing careers with day jobs, motherhood, and so on.

I haven't had a vacation where I actually went off somewhere and did the tourist thing in years. My time off these days is typically spent attending writer conferences. Days off, weekends -- those are for writing and catching up on the chores I didn't do during the week because I was writing.

When the words stop flowing, when I can't find the right mood for a scene, that's when I know I need to walk away for a little while. For a mini-battery recharge, I grab the Kindle and hit the elliptical machine. I find exercise does a great job of clearing away the mental cobwebs. Picture vacuuming a dust-clogged vent and how the air flows stronger and clearer. That's how it feels. The Kindle helps me pass the time. If I can get absorbed by a book, I can pedal that machine for thirty minutes. If I'm staring at the clock, I don't do more than five because I'm bored.

I like to re-read old favorites. I hear many of you gasping. But it's true. For me, it's like hanging out with an old friend. I save books where certain scenes punched through my chest to squeeze my heart. I read those sections, study them, look for the traits that made them work for me. There are sex scenes and then there are love scenes -- the two are not always the same thing. There are action scenes and fight scenes -- also not the same thing. There are break-up scenes, reconciliation scenes, growth scenes -- every author writes them differently and reading their work helps me reclaim my lost focus on my own writing.


  1. Love the distinction you make between sex scenes and love scenes. I agree it's important to revisit books / passages we thought were powerful as a reader. It's so helpful when trying to figure out what's missing from our own work!

  2. Oh I reread favorites too! Or even just scenes, like you said. Refreshing AND inspiring.

  3. I'm afraid to reread books for purpose of craft because then they'll stop being something to escape to. Good idea about reading while doing elliptical!


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