OK, right next to the hipster tech center of the world–Silicon Valley, where I worked and lived for nearly 20 years–is the hippie center of the world–Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz mountains–where I live now. It may seem a little odd to have these two very different worlds right next to each other, but it kind of works. I think one influences the other. I know when I used to get all wound up in the tech world, taking a step back and adopting some “hippy dippy” practices did wonders for my outlook and my writing. Over the years, I developed what I call The Month of Cleanse. TMoC is magic. Trust me. I did it every spring, but also other times in the year when I was feeling like I needed a jump start. And at the end of the month, something magical always happens.
So here, my friends, are the secret ingredients to TMoC:
- Clear out your mind–I’m a believer in the benefits of meditation, but I lack the discipline to be dedicated to it. But if you can get in just five minutes a day, it really does make a difference. I find first thing in the morning is perfect. If you’re new to meditation, check out these beginner steps to get you started. Or download a guided meditation. I got started with this one from Deepak Chopra.
- Clear out your space–This usually means my office and my bedroom closet. But it also means my laptop hard drive. And there I find all sorts of goodies that I’ve been saving for my writing. I’m notorious for starting a “notes” document and then never going back to it. So there are all sorts of forgotten treasures in those files. And it feels good not to be pushing my disk space maximum or having room in my closet to hang a new coat.
- Be conscious of what goes in your body–When I started TMoC, I was single and much of my social life involved cocktails and eating out. So for TMoC, I made a conscious effort to eat as healthy as possible, trying for a vegan diet as much as I could. Also, I’d cut out alcohol and try to drink a gallon of water a day. It really seemed to kickstart my brain and get it out of its slump.
- Exercise every day–Even if it was just a few trips around the block, just moving my limbs a bit seemed to prime the pump of my brain, and the stumbling blocks in my writing always seemed to disappear.
- Say “no” to going out–When I was single, this meant not dating. But now it means focusing more on me and my space rather than the external world. Those of you in the Boston area may be doing this anyway! (You poor people and all the snow!) It’s not about being anti-social or becoming a hermit, but just picking and choosing what social obligations are important so you can stay home and focus on your writing.
I always did TMoC when I was in the last push to finish a draft. It works. I had new energy and focus. And as I said, good things always happened at the end. Actually, last day of one TMoC, I met my wonderful, supportive-of-my-writing husband and that was the best thing for my writing ever.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net