Writing Tip #13 ~ a few minutes away

Sometimes it strengthens your writing life, and your current manuscript, when you play hookie for at least a few minutes per day and write something else. And I don’t mean something businessy or home-worky. I mean a fanciful piece, maybe even a secret, guilty pleasure project.

Every night I email my sister in California and tell her about my day. At the end of each message I always say goodnight in a different way. A pun or a sentimental snippet. Here is an example from a few days ago, a silly poem that started out a spoof on a Dickinson verse and got out of control:

Because I could not stop for Sleep
He kindly stopped for me,
Tripped over the bed-clothes, spilled my milk,
Quite embarrassedly.
He blotted my damp blankets
And he deftly wrung the sheets
Then crept around my footboard
On his foggy, kitty feets.
Yes, Sleep sat up a while,
Read some comics, brushed his teeth,
Looked at his email, toe nails clipped,
My bed he checked beneath.
Having found no monsters,
Now lullaby he croons,
Puffs my pillows, jammies up
And nestles me in spoons.
“Tell me a story,” Sleep demands.
“One that ends in bliss.”
So I tell him a short one, tuck him down,
And give him a little kiss.
“Good Sleep, good fellow,
I love you,” I say as I stifle a yawn.
“Do you love me,” he asks, “as much as
You love my sister, Dawn?”
“As much as I love cousin Dreamy,” I say.
“That’s how much I love my Sleep.”
“Even when I’m fitful?” he asks.
“Even when I’m deep?”
“Even,” I say, “when you’re shallow.”
Now Sleep he smiles and thinks.
“Goodnight,” says Sleep and before he drifts off
He gives me forty winks.

Sometimes I open a new page on Word and brainstorm about a future project I want to write. Sometimes I describe a cool dream I had to my cousin or old beau in a letter. (Yes, now and then I still send snailmail.) Or I write out my hopes for the future in a stream of consciousness or a numbered list.

It feels healthy to write something “other” at least a few minutes each day. I guess it’s like having sherbet between the soup and meat of your novel to clean the creative writing palate.


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