- by Rebecca York
I tweeted about what I was doing yesterday–moving piles of dirt around the yard. A tweet came winging back to me–Any writer who is moving piles of dirt around the yard is procrastinating. Go write.
In a way, I guess that’s true. But I can’t write all the time. I’ve got to refill the well.
With dirt? Well, yes. I mean, this wasn’t a ditchdigger project. I’m having a new screened porch built (just in time for winter), and the construction company left a big pile of dirt in the middle of the yard. Of course they’re obligated to move the stuff when they finish. But, when they do, it’s not going to end up where I want it. For them it’s just a mess to be dealt with.
For me, it’s a precious resource. I can use it to level the little “patio” under the bird feeder. Fill in at the retaining wall where some of the soil has leaked out. Level various stepping stones on the paths I’ve built. And fill in the hole where a bush was dug up a few weeks ago. That spot’s going to be a new flower garden, but I can’t plant any of the flowers until spring.
All of those are garden beautification projects. I’m not just moving dirt. I’m planning new landscaping motifs Too bad the raw materials are so heavy.
On the other hand, I’m also getting in some good exercise as I carry those buckets of dirt around and pry up those stepping stones–being careful, of course, not to throw my back out.
And while I’m dealing with the heavy stuff, my mind is churning–plotting out the next scene for the book I’m working on.
I prudently left my mud-caked shoes on the front porch, then came in and took a shower before going back to the computer. Eighteen pages later, I more than made up for the couple of hours in the dirt pile.
I hope I haven’t made it seem like I only work when I’m “in the mood.” I write two to four books a year. But when I absolutely don’t want to be sitting at the computer, I’ve learned that it’s better not to force productivity. The best thing I can do is get up and work on something else creative. Maybe it’s going to be trying out a new combination of recipe ingredients. Maybe it will be mixing paint colors to repair the broken edge of the pantry floor. Or even moving piles of dirt around the garden. But I do need those breaks. They’re part of what keeps the story ideas rattling around in my head. And part of what makes my life more than just the books I write.