A Room With A View

I am writing in the rain. My computer is exactly eighteen inches from my office window.

Outside, the trellis is heavy with climbing jasmine and trained plumbago. The soft sounds of the falling rain are echoed in the movement of the leaves they pelt.

I am warm and dry, yet somehow a part of the dripping scene in front of me. This landscape has been my food for the day, a rich diet of wet leaves, green vistas, and periwinkle blue flowers.

Writers need to be nourished. We are, after all, artists. To create we must refuel our tanks. To “find our art” as Pablo Picasso famously said, we must be able to draw in, process, and send out a piece of ourselves.

How one does this is entirely dependent on the personality of the individual. We writers are a unique lot — and what refreshes one will exhaust another. I have listed some of my favorite ways to keep the words I am looking for flowing freely.

Physical exercise is the first “go to” for me when I am stuck. An hour hitting tennis balls on the ball machine has clarified plot flow time and time again. Yoga is another practice that consistently provides the answer I am looking for. I would like to think it is the movement, but I suspect that it is the happy endorphins allowing my unconscious to solve the problem for me. For this reason when I am writing I get up every hour and a half and move around. I time myself, and after fifteen minutes are up I am back to my story. It is also a great way to accomplish those little things you don’t ever get to. Just make sure you watch the clock and go back to your desk when the time is up.

Laughing is another way to free the mind. A writer I know has posted lots of Grumpy Kitty photos and videos, and I suspect he enjoys watching them as much as sharing them. The physiology of laughing provides stress relief that has been tied to longer life. I know that, after a long day, I want to watch something funny on TV. Family Guy and the Big Bang Theory are two favorites that never cease to accomplish their goal.

A popular Floridian author, Randy Wayne White, is also an adventurer and avid water sports participant. What better way to end a day spent indoors at his desk developing his character, Marion “Doc” Ford, than by paddleboarding at a beach near his home on Sanibel Island. He is a successful restauranteur, and just for fun invented his own brand of hot sauce. He writes every day, but knows that, for him, time spent at the beach recharges his spirit.

Visiting a museum, listening to music, or reading, be it a classic or a contemporary novel, are other ways to stay relaxed, focused, and fed. I like to read while I eat lunch, feeding my body and soul at the same time. Because I like lists I have included a link to a site with “50 books you must read.”

This eclectic list inspired me to make 2013 the year that I filled in some gaps in my reading. How could I have seen The Maltese Falcon a hundred times and never read the book? How could I call myself a Hemingway devotee without understanding the struggles of The Old Man and The Sea? How could the movie Laura, an American film noir of cult status, be my favorite movie if I haven’t read the words of Vera Caspary? Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Picture of Dorian Gray, provides a glorious buffet of a cruel dandy’s privileged existence and pulls us willingly into the debauchery and decline of so promising a golden boy. I read the 1890 version contained in the Norton Critical Edition, slowly, and it encouraged me to go back to my first novel and clean what I was unhappy with. What is good for Oscar is good for Lois.

Gardening and especially working on my orchids provides me with hours of contemplation. There are a few tricks to growing orchids, but once you have mastered them it is amazingly easy to have flowers that last for months. I tried to grow roses, but it was a tedious schedule of rotating chemical sprays as they constantly contracted sooty mold and bugs. In Florida orchids are a better choice, and I love to hear from people who have followed my tips and now grow their own. Nurturing these odd-looking plants into producing stunning blooms gives me a sense of accomplishment that I channel back into my WIP.

My 2013 orchids.

Cooking, specifically chopping, is another great way to kill two birds with one stone. My husband calls me the “freelancer” because I will throw things together as the mood strikes me. He is not complaining, however. I must admit I am a very good cook, except for rice and breakfast potatoes. Rice requires that you follow directions, and I need cooking to be unconfined. My husband makes the rice, and I do the rest. I have become fond of using the slow cooker, which is the ideal solution for busy writers. Throwing lots of things in a pot and letting slow heat and time do the work is ideal. Don’t think in the limited terms of cans of mushroom soup, unless that is what you want. The Internet is full of gourmet suggestions. I take my breaks to stir what is in the crock-pot, re-season, and maybe add a little of something that the recipe didn’t ask for.

Intimacy is another way to find inspiration. Indies Unlimited is a safe for work site, so I will leave this topic to your imagination.

Sometimes, the act of speaking aloud about a character or scene and getting some constructive feedback from another writer, is all it takes to feel refreshed and anxious to return to your computer. Having a person like this in your life is a luxury and a blessing I wish for every dedicated writer.

I hope these ideas help you to get the nourishment you need to create and produce work you and your readers will love.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

28 thoughts on “A Room With A View”

  1. I think you have covered most of what makes me tick with your own list, Lois.
    • Physical exercise: karate or, if I’m feeling especially wound up, beating the hell out of a full length bag.
    • Meditation: static or tai chi.
    • Laughing: watching our cats, Big Bang, or old Seinfeld episodes.
    • Outdoors: I used to do stuff like skiing, driving fast, horse riding, water skiing, climbing, parachuting etc. However, these days a walk in virgin forest or along a lonely beach does the trick.
    • Reading: a good book; sometimes that can be one I’ve read more than once.
    • Movie: same as above.
    • Music: these days it has to be something that I consider to be good music; my favourite contemporary is Dire Straights, my favourite classical is Mozart.
    • Cooking: In 1963 I was one of seven boys who petitioned and got the right to have cooking lessons, instead of metalwork and woodwork, a first in the UK school system. I almost became a chef, I still love cooking.
    • Intimacy and the perfect person to sound off: I’m incredibly fortunate (third time lucky).

    I don’t do the gardening bit is all; I like to leave nature to its own devices.

    Excellent post. Lois.

    1. Now that’s weird, TD. In 1963 I was one of 7 girls who won the right to take metalwork and woodwork lessons in my UK school instead of cooking and sewing. Made the same request when I moved to NZ at age 13 and carried on with it there. Good thing my husband is great at sewing!

      1. I love Dire Straits.
        My husband is a wonderful griller. A man who cooks is comfortable with himself, and smart. When the going gets tough you can feed yourself well!
        Thank you for sharing your list. We are very similar.

  2. Gardening is a favourite of mine. I have only one orchid but it has bloomed four years in a row now – that last bloom lasted 4 months – Dec. to April. You’ve painted some beautiful relaxing pictures here. Think I won’t need that bubble bath now. 🙂

    1. I would of guessed you were a gardener, Yvonne. Gardening takes patience, and one needs to be able to see and sometimes sense what the plant needs. You are a thoughtful and kind person.
      The orchid you describe is “happy.” I have one, the purple dendrobium in the picture above, that is always in bloom. A friend came to see my orchids and started to tell me how I should replant it to a bigger pot, etc. Why would I do that? When it stops blooming I’ll think about it…

      1. Aw, thank you Lois. My orchid is the same colour as the one at the back of your pic that is a light magenta, the long sprig. It’s never been repotted either. I garden more by instinct than by science, so you may have something there. Aside from my veggies all of my gardens are drought resistant perennials – good karma for the environment.

  3. Your orchids are beautiful, Lois. I don’t have much luck with plants. Usually I can only keep two; if I get more, they start to die off ’til I’m back down to two. For a short while, I was able to trick them by putting two in each room, but somehow they caught on. 😀

    My recharging methods of choice are reading and knitting.

    1. I suspected that my orchids talked to each other. 🙂
      I really think it is all about the light. Once they start to re-bloom I don’t move them.
      They also seem to like music.
      Knitting seems like a very relaxing hobby. And, you can make pretty things for yourself or others.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Nice piece of your life, Lois. Many things in common.

    I have the luck to live in the countryside and have a clear view on the Alps and the Mount Blanc. Sometimes it is enough to sit in the garden with my cats, and watch, listen, breath.

    Even strolling in our garden helping my wife, she’s the green thumb in the family, or taking a break with an episode of my favourite series. My first novel has been instrumental of making me watch the whole 8 seasons of “24” 🙂

    Reading of course is a must, where to find all the words otherwise?

    Blessed be.
    Massimo

    1. Hello Massimo,
      I love the mountains, and your vista sounds lovely. There is so much to appreciate in nature, free gifts we can observe and pull into our souls.
      I haven’t watched “24”, but I will look into it.
      Thank you for your comments.

  5. What a beautiful post. Cross stitch. If I draw blank with my writing, I pick up my cross stitch. You can guarantee that as soon as I get to an intricate piece, my muse kicks in, and I have to write again.

  6. Good morning,
    Glynis is a beautiful name for a writer.
    My mother did cross stitch, and I cherish the items I have of her work. Isn’t it interesting that instead of fighting for the words, a relaxing pursuit encourages your muse to return. He must get jealous of your attention being focused elsewhere.
    Have a lovely day.

  7. Great post Lois
    .
    My list includes:
    Travel by train or bus
    Walking
    Knitting

    and when there’s an opportunity:
    Painting walls (with a brush)

  8. Hi Mel,
    Travel by train or bus is a wonderful way to slow down and appreciate the journey. It is also the perfect opportunity to people watch.
    I haven’t painted in a very long time. I would love to be able to do murals, but then every wall in my house would be covered with flowers!
    Thanks for your comments.

    1. Unfortunately I have no artistic ability whatsoever when it comes to painting – so I’m talking about just decorating with one color!
      Given I don’t have to concentrate on the task too hard, I just let my mind wander and usually my characters appear to keep me company.

    1. Thank you, Peter, I appreciate the re-tweet!
      With all those lovely compliments I must immediately return to the WIP with renewed confidence.
      Have a great day.

  9. Your opening lines to this piece were great!

    “Outside, the trellis is heavy with climbing jasmine and trained plumbago. The soft sounds of the falling rain are echoed in the movement of the leaves they pelt. I am warm and dry, yet somehow a part of the dripping scene in front of me. This landscape has been my food for the day, a rich diet of wet leaves, green vistas, and periwinkle blue flowers.”

    What an opening for a story! I enjoyed the variety of things you use to re-charge your batteries and actually found some that I have used myself. No matter what we are doing, writing or working on a special project, we need something to deviate from the task at hand to give us a new perspective. Thanks for sharing, we all need some encouragement to go forward.

    Keep up your good perspective on life.

    RG Bud

    1. Hi Bud,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      It is a beautiful day in Tampa. In only a few weeks the humidity will be high and any gardening is done very early in the morning. Fortunately, I can still watch what is going on from my office window.
      I am glad you stopped by. I haven’t been on the old LI threads recently. I started one of my own about Pinterest, my new passion.
      God bless. 🙂

  10. Lovely post, Lois, and beautiful imagery. For writing energy, I turn to exercise (swimming, strength training, and long walks in my hilly neighborhood), Big Bang reruns (funny how so many of us like this), and washing dishes.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      I am not surprised to see “The Bang Theory” included on your list. 🙂
      A household chore like washing dishes kills two birds with one stone; I sometimes polish furniture when I take my fifteen minute break. Or when I can’t sleep at night.
      The area where you live must be a great place to walk, especially at this time of year when all the plants are waking up.
      Thank you for adding to the list of writer’s recharging techniques

  11. Lois, you’ve inspired me to start by straightening up my writing room. Thanks!

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