Between the Lines

Last month I wrote about the importance of writing during historical times such as these, but let’s face it, these are difficult and exhausting times, too. How can you navigate them? As I’m writing this, safe-at-home orders are lifted, yet numbers of cases are still on an upward trend. Amidst all the worry, where can you find inspiration to write? How do you face the news every day yet keep your focus and life positive, or at least on an even keel? Glad you asked …

Kathy Steffen

Shift your perspective: What are you grateful for? (No matter how small, list it!) What is the good in all this? List some blessings you have recognized from going through the last few months. What have you enjoyed spending more time doing? What new activities or experiences have you tried? What in your life has changed/shifted? What do you want to carry forward?

Now physically shift your perspective and write outside: Gardens and parks make inspirational places to write. Go out, take a deep breath, center yourself and write. 

Move and get a good dose of fresh air: Add a nice, long walk or bike ride before, after or in the middle of your indoor or outdoor writing session. You can walk around the block and end up back in your front yard to breathe, relax and write.

People: Who do you crave contact with (be it in person, on a phone, through a window or online)? Who makes your heart soar when you hear from them? Who inspires you and makes you feel great? Who is not worth much extra effort? What has changed/shifted? What realizations have you come to about the people (as a group and individuals) in your life?

Activities: What were your favorite things to do that you are no longer able to experience? Is there a different way to do any of these? What have you discovered (or re-discovered) that is important to keep in your life? How can you make that happen now and beyond this crisis? What is okay to leave behind?

Meet live and online: Following musicians, artists and athletes hosting “live” events, my writing group is meeting for a “write-in” on Facebook. We usually meet in a coffee shop to connect and talk (about writing, our particular piece or anything!) and of course, write. The writer who organizes our in-person write-ins thought outside the box and set up a morning for a creative get-together. These are wonderful, inspirational meetings in person, and online will be a much-needed connection with friends. Who can you connect with to chat and write? Figure out how to use Zoom, Messenger, FaceTime or make a room on Facebook where you can meet.

Be honest: This is truly an unprecedented time in so many ways. You are experiencing emotions from one end of the scale to the other and everywhere in between. Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Writing can help you process what is happening and help you feel you are being heard. It’s a pressure release. And who doesn’t need that?

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She is grateful to write from her safe-at-home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.