I am reviving the shed this morning, giving it its life back, The power strip borrowed to help my in-laws with a electrical and water issue at their condo during the Midwest’s Polar Vortex has been returned and I’m re-plugging in the lights, the coffee maker, and the heater and reclaiming a space the frigid weather had stolen. And not only am I reopening the shed, I’m also reawakening my writing routine. That’s not so simple.
When life happens, when you have had to stop your usual process and pattern for whatever may have knocked you off your course, how do you best get back on track?
Most of the time for me, I just step back into the work. It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle left on a dining room table that you’ve not worked on for days, then you sit down one morning and found that elusive corner piece. But this time, it wasn’t working.
I’ve read the advice of others.
Give yourself a word count goal and write to it unedited and without overthinking.
Write to a time. Give yourself fifteen minutes and then each day add some minutes.
Write only one chapter or one scene. That’s it.
All good ideas. But I just needed something different, a little primer like the little bit of gasoline through an engine’s choke.
Years ago, when I was the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, I tried haiku. Jack wrote it; why not me? I was terrible at it. For many years, poetry escaped me. I had a hard time with Shakespeare in my high school days. Besides, my poets back then were Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. But through the years I found Dylan Thomas, Yeats, and Billy Collins. And in time, poetry sunk in. I’m no expert. But I know what I like.
And that was what I needed. Get back to haiku. Those simple three lines.
I started playing around and reached out to a poet in the Caribbean who had published haiku. Through emails he has critiqued some of my work. It has been exactly what I needed. The form and the simplicity kick-started my writing. I’m now writing one haiku a day and with the shed toasty warm, I’ll be returning to writing the novel I’ve been working on.
Here are three haiku I wrote recently. I am not sharing these to look for praise, or be boastful. Hell no. I have a lot to learn. But these haiku and several others—good or bad—got my writing going again. It might work for you when you need it.
Behind the wool mask Postman guards his naked skin Love letter so cold
Candle flame gives light Writer’s pen to a notebook What will the heart say?
Deep gray of dawn sky Silhouette of maple trees Light in a window