Recently a friend told me he’s fallen in love for the first time. Simply hearing those words made my stomach lift, much like the photo I shared on Facebook the other day. (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) Man, I thought. Brand-spankin’ new love is going to do wonders for his writing. Not that he needs it—just seemed like a bonus. And it really got me thinking.
For years, all of the songs I wrote were sad, the primary themes consisting of loneliness, despair, heartbreak, hopelessness and, at their most positive, hopeful pleas that life would get better. That’s not to say I was always sad. I just never wrote songs when I wasn’t. When I met my husband, the feel-good brain-chemicals went into full force, and voila. Out came songs about bliss, gratitude and love notes to the sky.
Falling in love feels like zipping over roller coaster hills, minus the terror. Sure, there can be fear; love puts us in an extremely vulnerable place. And that is scary. But it’s also beautiful, inspiring and worth every ounce of risk. If we’re not careful (and who punch-drunk in love is?) those chemical rushes can be addictive. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively gain regular doses, without creating a dependency.
According to Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, that initial rush we experience while falling in love also helps us think more clearly and concentrate. So guess what? Falling in love IS great for writing and all art forms. And even “old” relationships—with our partners and craft—can instill roller coaster-like reactions and feelings.
Since my friend’s revalation, I’ve been pondering that stomach-lift-wheeee feeling. I took inventory. I’m blown away by how often these feelings arise—no flings or breakups required.
Over the past few years, these events have sent my brain’s dopamine flow into high-gear, inspiring happy rewards:
- Realizing that I’m a writer and stepping onto that path fully.
- Writing and finishing my first novel in a rapid, giddy rampage.
- Finishing a major revision, and another.
- Meeting other writers at my first writers conference, and writers in my genre at ThrillerFest and BoucherCon.
- Meeting, collaborating and celebrating with blogging friends, much thanks to Kristen Lamb and WANA International.
- Getting offers from literary agents, signing with one. More revising. Getting positive and growth-inducing feedback.
- Starting my second novel. Epiphanies along the way.
- Learning that my friend Kourtney Heinz was named a semifinalist in the Amazon.com BreakThrough Novel Award contest shortly after reading and loving an excerpt.
- On the personal front: Vacations. Fun dates. Seeing close friends and family. Returning from vacation to my dog’s tail-goes-wild greeting. Winning a writing prize. Learning that my newest niece had been born. Seeing Mammoth for the first time. Performing on stage. Seeing The Negro Problem perform live. And a mini-burst today, when I opened my door and saw that my new Kindle arrived.
Regardless of how big or small, seeking and enjoying “something new” can not only give our brain chemicals a lift, but help shake up monotony, prevent and combat creative blocks, boost our confidence and make life more fun. On Monday, Kristen shared 5 Ways to Get Out of the Comfort Zone and Become a Stronger Writer on her blog. I suspect that all five of her suggestions would make for awesome new somethings. Renewal outside of writing can also help…
10 Non-Writing Ways to Get that WHEEE! Feeling
- Try a new restaurant or cuisine you’ve been dying or hesitant to try.
- Re-connect with an old friend.
- Write a thank you letter to someone who’s made a big impact on your life.
- Have a play date with a friend, where you act like kids: Go swinging at the park. Take a “paint your plate” or other crafty class. Play dress up.
- Bring homemade baked goods or flowers to a neighbor.
- Send a thoughtful care package to a loved one.
- Explore a new hobby.
- Try a new social media platform, with the aim of having fun.
- Buy yourself a new outfit. Get gussied up and go out.
- Try a new recipe. Need ideas? Check out my guest post on mystery author K.B. Owen’s blog.
A few of my favorite posts of the week:
What do you do to keep things lively and joyful in your life or career? What’s the latest “something new” you’ve tried?