Switching Gears Perspective #4: Melanie Florence

Switching Gears from Real Life into Creative Mode

When the deadline loomed for this blog post, I have to admit that I had trouble switching off mom mode and stepping into writer mode. With my kids home from school for the summer, I try to spend as much time with them as possible. Let’s face it…there is going to be a time when they don’t want to hang out with their mom any more. So, leaving a pile of unfolded laundry and a sink full of dishes to open my laptop while my daughter plays on her iPad should have been simple.

It wasn’t.

I tried to write. I did. But Josh wanted lunch. Taylor wanted to watch The Office, so I ended up engrossed in an episode for a while. The puppies needed attention. I wanted a snack. The mail came and begged to be opened. Taylor absolutely NEEDED me to do her dance to The Office theme song with her. The point is, there was always SOMETHING that I could be doing instead of writing this blog post.

Switching on the creativity when you’re in the midst of real life can be next to impossible. How do you recharge the creative batteries when you’re trying to juggle your family, your home life, a day job…all those balls that every writer struggles to keep in the air?

  1. I find that when I’m stuck in a ‘real world rut’ and can’t turn the creativity on, sitting down with a well-written book and losing myself in the kind of writing I’d love to be producing myself, absolutely helps. Some of the books that have helped me recharge lately are The Agony of Bun O’Keefeby Heather Smith, Maudby Melanie Fishbane, Punch Like a Girlby Karen Krossing and Prideby Robin Stevenson. Spending an hour with a good book really inspires me to get back to my own writing.
  2. Meeting up with writer friends. This is a new one for me. I’m an introvert by nature and tend to stick to myself most of the time. But there is nothing that inspires me more than sitting down with some writer friends and tossing around ideas, hashing out plot points, talking about books and how freaking HARD it is to write them! No one gets it like another writer. And no one can make you want to write like other writers. Because your writer friends remind you why you do this to begin with. They challenge you to be better and to take risks with your work. And writers are just fun to be around!
  3. Getting Away from It All. Sometimes you just have to walk away from everything. Okay, maybe not your kids…but that load of laundry you’re in the middle of or the errands you wanted to run or that huge, incredibly long To Do list you’ve been putting off. Sometimes you need to leave it and find a quiet place where the dishes are staring at you, daring you to wash them. Having a place to write that isn’t in the middle of the household chaos is vital. I have a studio in my backyard. My friend Lisa Dalrymple has her Plotting Shed. Other writers have a dedicated office or even a corner of a room where they can sit down and get to work without distractions. Coffee shops work for some people…really anywhere that you can go to forget all the other things you could be doing and FOCUS on your writing would work.

Those are my top three ways to recharge the creativity batteries and get back to work. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that writing is my job. It’s my career. And my career needs to be prioritized near the top of the list.

MELANIE FLORENCE is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and was given a starred review by Kirkus, who listed it as one of the best picture books of 2017 to give readers strength. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway.

In her spare time, Melanie watches Doctor Who and Harry Potter with her daughter, discusses the DC vs Marvel Universes with her son and makes her husband sit through scary movies with her. She shares her home with her family, their two dogs (Henry and Daisy), two cats (Shadow and Oreo) and a backyard that seems to constantly attract wildlife. You can find her at https://www.melanieflorence.com or on Twitter @mflowrites

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