Being a writer is more than creating stories, working the craft, editing for pace and revising for clarity. For me, being a writer is about living life, meeting people, developing relationships and breaking free of my comfort zone--which, to be honest, is what I call "my cave" located in the downstairs of my house. I won't develop much as a person if I stay hidden away in my cave chained to the computer--more than that, eventually, my stories will fall flat.
I make it a point to get out of the house despite the deadline looming on the horizon. I recognized my out-of-balance lifestyle about six months ago when I realized that all I did was write, edit, parent, sleep, repeat every day. All work and no play not only make Jack a dull boy, they make me a boring writer.
To avoid the rut, I've started taking road trips, with or without the kids, to places I've never been before. The latest adventure led me to Santa Fe, NM and SW Colorado for five days. I said no to the computer, loaded up a cooler, grabbed a map (yep, the old-fashioned kind because I wasn't sure about GPS down there), some snacks, the kids and off we went into the unknown. Boy...not only did I open my mind as a person, I ended up with a notebook full of story ideas.
I go for walks, let my mind relax from social media chatter, and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other while enjoying the neighborhood.
I force myself--yes, I said 'force'--to exercise to reconnect with my body instead of constantly dwelling in my head.
As a writer, I need to look up from the keyboard and immerse myself in the life going on around me. I write about multi-dimentional characters leading lives in a vivid world. To do that successfully...I feel...it's imperative to live a full life myself.
Working from home is a blessing, I know. I'm grateful that I make my living as a writer with freedom from a daily commute and a boss breathing down my neck. It's easy, though, to get trapped in a routine of pajama pants, tweets, edits, writing projects, diet soda, and hours that pass without notice. I simply need to give myself permission to hit "save" and "shut down" in order to embrace what's happening beyond my "cave" so that I'm a better, more well-rounded writer...and person.