Driving in Circles: Recalibrating My Writing Life

 (Photo: Calsidyrose/Flickr/CC rights)
(Photo: Calsidyrose/Flickr/CC rights)

My car has a compass in it. One of those digital displays that tells you which direction you’re going. It’s handy when you’re not sure you’re on the right road and you have zero sense of direction (which is kinda the story of my life) and you start to question every twist and turn of the journey you’re on. It’s reassuring to know that at least you’re pointed in the right direction. That if you keep easing forward, you’ll end up there eventually.

The problem is that every now and then it gets confused. One minute it’s working just fine, and the next it’s not sure whether your going forward or backward, North or South.

The manual tells you that when this happens – when the display shifts from showing a direction to showing a great big digital C – it’s time to recalibrate. It tells you to go someplace safe and drive in a wide circle. It also tells you to do this more than once if needed. Some confusions take a little longer to correct. A little bigger arc to adjust.

But if you follow the instructions, soon enough you’re compass is restored. North, South, East, and West are clearly marked once again, and all is right in the world.

For the last several weeks I’ve been driving along with my internal compass completely out of whack. And I’ve done what everyone who hates to read the manual does: I’ve just kept going, pedal to the metal, certain that if I just keep driving, I’ll figure out where I am eventually.

So far eventually has been the better part of a month. And I’m just about out of gas.

Which means it’s time to find a safe place and drive slowly. One wide circle. Maybe another. I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me so long to remember this, but here I am – looking for a safe place to recalibrate myself, my life, and my writing.

For me this means spending a little more time journaling each day. A little more time sitting in the sun watching the birds and the deer play in the yard. A little more time breathing. And it means remembering to pause as I make my way around the circle. Adding in space for a few stops so that I can take in the view – to see my work and my life from a little bit different angle.

I’m not sure how many circles it’s going to take to get my internal compass working again – but I know from experience that if I take it slow the cardinal points will be restored and I’ll be able to start journeying again – only this time I’ll remember to plan to stop at a few tourist spots along the way – just for fun.

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2 thoughts on “Driving in Circles: Recalibrating My Writing Life

  1. Yes! Birds, breathing and sun.

    Your thoughtful reflection reminds me of this great quote:
    “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
    – E.L Doctorow

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