The Rut Stuff

blogXcatXinXaXtreeI’m mourning the end of the holidays, though not for the reasons you’d suspect. I don’t decorate, I don’t socialize much, I try not to overindulge in seasonal delicacies.

I do, however, get into a pattern where I can write for days on end. I might have to pop into the office later in the day, but mostly, over the holidays, I can get up, and write at least a couple thousand words, day after day.

blogXsnowyXyardI expect I get the same buzz from a writing jag that other people get from going to gym (and I NEVER get from exercise, ever, period, don’t even glance down that path). When I can consistently add to a story, I have a lovely sense of living with it–waking up in the story world, visiting it again last thing of the day, seeing it in my dreams. The disguise_550sense of forward momentum is BLISSFUL, and tends to be self-reinforcing. 

I’m making progress, so the story stays with me, so I make faster progress–Wheeee! When I can catch this vibe of productivity and creativity, it’s barely work. It’s what I was born to do, and sitting in my writing chair, I’m soaring. 

And yet… I’m a voracious consumer of trivia, and one of the items I’ve come across in my travels is a description of the traits attributed to people who consider themselves lucky, versus unlucky. One that stands out to me is that blogXrescueXaXrakepeople who feel lucky avoid hamster-wheel routine. They go on frolics, take a different way to work, grab a sandwich from the new place at the end of the block. 

Unlucky people, often burdened by greater negativity and anxiety, tend to stick to their well trodden paths. The problem with the familiar, though, is that we stop seeing it. We go into screensaver mode, seeing what we expect to see when we even bother to look. 

The person who has the confidence and curiosity to step off the beaten track by contrast, will end up in new territory. When we’re in new territory, we look around, and we see with new eyes. We pay attention, we’re less in thrall to our hidebound expectations.

soldier_244wSo my writing orgy is over for now, and I miss it, but I’m also aware that getting out of that joyous rut can bring me new plotting ideas, new writing connections, and new resources. I can find that comfy rut again, but I also need the sense of frolic and adventure that’s the opposite of a rut.

What small frolic can you go on this week? A new coffee shop? A new author? A different entre on date night? Is there a blissful rut you’d like to try, and a way to set that up?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “The Soldier,” a story about a guy who was in all the wrong ruts, and got sorted out when he found new scenery, and new loves.  

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62 comments on “The Rut Stuff

  1. I love The Soldier! I won’t be frolicking much this week as my son is on homebound school instruction until we can get his placement settled for an all special needs school. But I do want to read Jayne Fresina’s new book while I’m here.

  2. There is a new hamburger joint in town. I am one of those who don’t try new things often. This is a place called creative burgers. Supposed to make it with anything you want to put on or in it. Me, I like mustard and pickles. I’ll have to try something different.

    • When I was in law school, several ice ages ago, there was a burger joint near the law school, and they made a blue cheese and black olive burger that was… you’ve reminded me of it. At the end of each semester, after my last final, those burgers were among the ways I celebrated.

      Pickles and mustard sound good, too!

  3. I would like to try a new author, so many to choose from. Thanks for this awesome chance, I would love to win “The Soldier”.

    • Give Jayne a read, if you like the light, warm touch. One of my all time keepers is Joanna Bourne, and I think Carolyn Jewel writes an elegant, steamy Regency. Meredith Duran is a first rate talent, Tessa Dare, or try some JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhoods. They read like historical heroes, with the snappiest male/male repartee ever written.

  4. Well…I have begun an experiment to try to cure a rut I have been in for a while. My rut for a year or two has been that I dropped any oversight on what I ordered in restaurants or what I ate at home and when off work I am exceedingly sedentary. Also I was off my feet for two months last year with a broken bone in my foot. As a result I gained weight on an already overweight body. It just started bugging me. So as of Jan. 1st I am trying a get back to eating vegetables, doing some food prep., doing less unpaid overtime at school so that I can have a little energy to move when I get home. One week later, I do feel like I have a lighter step. I’m determined to keep at it for at least a month to see if it makes a difference. I’ve only put in 9 hours OT instead of my usual 18! But I haven’t found a consistent exercise/movement program to follow. That is next on my agenda.

    • Awareness is the first step in effecting any change, and you’re already there. Best of luck, and if you find something that works, let me know. The tread desk and I sorta broke up over the holidays, but we’re seeing each other again for short convos over solitaire and hearts.

  5. P.S. I’ve already got a paperback of The Soldier and an e-book version. So if I were chosen, I’d like to pass it on to the next person whose name got drawn. Thanks!

  6. I won’t be frolicking much this weekend because it’s raining Cats and Dogs in NYC so I’m holed up at home I will give a new author a chance with a book and I will try my hands at baking a red velvet cake I’m excited to try that

    • Now THERE is a cheering thought! Red Velvet cake… I used to bake the kind where you used a round cake tin and a square one to make a heart. Took a LOT of frosting though.

      Sometimes my big detour for the week is to pick up a new product in the grocery store–a different kind of fruit, a different kind of cheese.

      Such an adventurer, I am.

  7. I love going to new places – and then trying different versions of the “same ol, same ol”. Every so often, I will branch out, and be happy that I can add a new favorite to my list of “will eats”.

    Stepping out of that comfort zone is very hard for me, although I do actually consider myself quite lucky – great job, great husband, back in school, writing a book.

    • WRITING A BOOK!!! I wish more people wrote books, because writing is good for us. It reduces pain, makes for better sleep, less anxiety, better wound healing… enjoy that writing, and if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.

      I’m not just sayin’ that, either.
      [email protected]

  8. The weather in the Midwest this week–at least in Chicago–is heading toward (and will be hovering around) zero. It’s been balmy, if winter in this area can ever be considered, since early fall so it’s throw us all a bit off.

    I have appointments Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in town and one out of town and can finally hunker down on Thursday (when the temps are supposed to get back to the 30s)at home, which is what I plan to do.

    I can truly say I am being forced to get outta my rut by the weather. Though I am *used* to the bitterly cold weather, it is not something any of us Midwesterners (at least the SANE ones)look forward to. Cars die, ice is of the black variety and frostbite is a real thing. Ugly hats, ugly boots and puffy coats are not fashion choices any of us would be caught dead in…except when the weather demands us to, usually sometime in January. In fact, the local news likes to do the occasional interview of people who work outside in this weather and ask they give us a rundown of how many layers they are wearing and what they are! And those poor reporters wear crazy hats to do those interviews too. 🙂

    So I am pulled outta my rut this week by Ol’Man Winter and all his minions. I have a double cable pale yellow sweater and white wide wale corduroy pants with woolly socks (with a Scandinavian cream and yellow and red design) I will be wearing to my meeting tomorrow morning…not what I would normally wear to this type of meeting AT ALL. But it’s warm and I am saving my flannel lined jeans for my meeting on Tuesday!

    Take care…sending WARM wishes for a Happy New Year to you, Grace!

    • That is COLD. When I visit my brother in Montana, I’m reminded of how pansy our winters are in Maryland. We get cold snaps–a few days of single digits, but it’s not the relentless deep freeze your endure, much less with the howling winds.

      My mom lives in San Diego, and says she misses the seasons, for exactly the reason you allude to. The weather doesn’t do ruts for long. Just when you think… that’s when the yellow sweater comes out.

    • Oh, a new house… sounds lovely. I’ve been in the same house for 25 years, and one of my brothers-in-law is telling me, “GET OUT. Time to go, get rid of it…”

      I’m happy here, but it’s a rut. It’s for sure a rut.

  9. Love this post!

    This is my first weekend off since I started my second job in November. And I used it to get out of several ruts…got my hair cut and colored yesterday ( I no longer look or feel like Creulia DeVille!), had a successful training class with Celeste and am making plans to enter her in two shows in March and am visiting friends today. The weekend off has provided me with the time to catch up with household chores and much needed sleep!

    Our daughter gave us movie and a dinner gift certificate and am looking forward to a date night with my husband soon. We don’t get out that often and it’s nice to know that we have something to look forward to!

    I loved the sneak peeks you posted this week.. The Dukes in Disguise piece was quite funny! Have a great week!!

    • You know what to do with a free weekend! (Or you and Celeste do.) You mention show season coming up, though to me, it still feels very much like winter. Usually by the end of January, I can feel the days getting longer, but we’re not…. there…. yet.

    • That can be quite the adventure–all the sales! I’ve put off buying a bunch of stuff for the office because I simply didn’t want to venture onto retail ground last month. Now… here I come!

  10. I can totally agree with your getting in the “zone”. Among others, I used your books to lose weight. I decided to let everything, but myself go, and read. I average 1 book per day. I managed to lose 100 lbs. The holidays tripped me up a little, but I’m back in the “zone”.

    • Good heavens, what an accomplishment! That has to be one of the best uses anybody has put a romance novel to–to focus on yourself, and getting healthy. Way to skate, Lona, and keep up the very hard, good work!

    • It’s a nice big book, what I call “a solid read,” none of this getting to bed on time stuff.

      Decorating for Valentine’s Day is a great idea. I might have to do that myself. Get some cling-ons for the windows, make red and white snowflakes… wish I could have a Valentine’s Day craft party and invite my readers.

  11. I would love to spend the week just reading, sleeping and doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately that doesn’t pay the bills but its nice to dream. I will have to wait a bit before I can use a week of vacation paid for.

    • Unstructured time is my most treasured indicator of wealth. You can keep the designer sheets and up to the minute kitchen appliances… give me a morning to do with what I please.

      I hope that comes your way soon. Get as much rest as you can until then.

    • I’m not sure what prompted me to set that book BEFORE The Heir, but I did, so we’re kinda stuck with it that way. St. Just invited himself into the story, and one of my fave scenes in the world is when he and the hero are talking through the hero’s captivity. They’re in an room full of weapons, and oh, I had such fun with the symbolism. Let me know what you think!

  12. Never thought much about being lucky or unlucky. I do however, believe in fate and fortune (maybe that’s the same thing) but I think we have more than a little control over it. I have always been a pretty positive person, but I do have to work at it sometimes.

    I used to be more adventurous, but age and finances have slowed me down a bit. Even when I go out to eat, I tend to order the same things. But I think that’s because I don’t get to do it as often as I used to, so I want to get something I know I will enjoy.

    Love THE SOLDIER. I have it on my kindle, but would love to have a signed copy for my “special books” shelf.

    • I know the time is fast approaching when many of my options will be precluded, and that helps keep me less hide-bound than I’d be otherwise. The whole Adventures in Scotland is my way of not succumbing to the tea and toast routine any sooner than I have to.

      My grandma opened her first business at age 60; my sister got her PhD at age 65; my brother became a dad for the fourth time at age 67. I’m MUCH too young to get off the dance floor just yet (I hope).

  13. I’d love to try a new restaurant which serves tapas and is opening soon near us. I also need to commit to joining a particular book club and get the book they are discussing later this month. But I’d still make time for The Soldier!

  14. It is hard to get in a rut, when the weather changes every day, or sometimes several times a day. Aside from the weather, every week brings some new piece of music to be learned for one of the choirs I belong to. I am looking into new craft projects to work up with the eventual goal of an etsy shop. The only rut I can’t get out of is the winter weather clothes rut. The weather won’t allow me to wear the summer clothes I prefer. The only positive is, I got three new sweaters for the price of one at an after Christmas sale at an outlet mall. It is a new year. Time to create new ruts.

    • You mention something that’s been bugging me, but I hadn’t realized it. I don’t have that many warm, comfy winter clothes. I’m getting tired of my polar fleece this, and my polar fleece that. Might have to hit the sales…Yes, I think maybe I will.

  15. I already own The Soldier, so not entering.

    I just wanted to say that I’ll literally be seeing with new eyes over the next few weeks as I’m having cataract surgery! Talk about a new blissful rut, being able to see clearly for the first time ever is it! 🙂

  16. Oh, how I wish to frolic!!! But alas this is clean out my closet week!!
    And I do decorate,my children refer to it as Christmas throw up, so it must come down!!

    • I posted a meme recently about “de-clutter your house in fifteen minutes a day.” Well, that was hopeless. Their fifteen minutes equates to a couple hours in my house.

      But I have started doing one thing every day to tidy the nest. Even that has made a difference, much to my surprise. Baby steps…

  17. A positive “rut” that would be blissful for me is returning to creating my own greeting cards; I own such lovely stamps. I love to send and receive old fashioned postal mail. My work as an analyst is quite based on routine, so I may seem to others a hamster sort, but I try to find inexpensive ways to frolic often…a new lipstick, driving home a different route, trying new recipes. My husband thanked me twice today for organizing Mexican lunch out with our oldest son, a rare treat. I did read a Jane Good ger novel recently, then a biography of Benjamin Franklin, and am back to Grace with Joan and Dante. My younger son and I just collaborated on his face brownies, so I’m off

  18. I will definitely be breaking my usual routine on Monday since I am driving my daughter to a super early medical test… I’m thinking a visit to the closest coffee shop will be in order as soon as possible once we get down there. 😉 Eldest child has headed back to his university early to both work on his thesis and work in the lab, so we are down to one child at home until she heads back up next Monday. We’ll be enjoying what is left of her visit when we aren’t working. 🙂

  19. That difference is so interesting! I will have to take note, not sure if I’m a creature of habit or not. I’m hoping to get back into my exercise habit this week, actually, and add my own writing time to the day, so call it new habits. I have some new to me authors to enjoy this week, too.

    • For a lot of authors, January is a good month sale-wise, because people get gift cards over the holidays, and that seems to inspire some experimenting with new names and genres. Hope the writing goes well, and if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.

  20. While waiting for new books from you I’m going on a frolic of reading books by Lauren Royal. The Chase family is so very fun to follow.

  21. Hmm… I’ve agreed to a new 3 year volunteer position, I haven’t done this before, not sure what skills I’ll learn along the way. In February I’ll be rooming with some ladies I hadn’t roomed with before for a fun weekend, in March I am going to the beach. So adventures are coming, I am excited about 2016.

  22. For me I am trying Coloring again. I always color when my niece and nephew come over I color in kids books but I have always used crayons. Now I am going to try Adult coloring with different mediums. And without my niece or nephew around. And I am trying a new Author…. Although I admit I would rather be reading one of your books that I recently purchased. Your story really broke my heart…. you don’t decorate or socialize during the holidays. your such a kind, sweet, person I hate the thought of you being alone during the holidays! Hug sent with this message

    • Bonny, thanks for the hug, but honestly, I relish my holidays. It’s hard for extroverts to grasp that introverts not only like to be alone, we NEED solitude and quiet. I like people too, but in the quiet days, I recharge and regain my balance.

      I expect I will eventually get back into a more social form of domesticating, but single parenting for years, and now working two jobs leaves me ready to end the year with peace and quiet… and I do love to write. Just love it.

  23. When I feel lucky, I go to the local casino. Not very often, but I win a little.
    Ypur book sounds really good. I enjoy reading this kind of book.

    • I’m not that far from a casino, now that you mention it. The racetrack over in Charles Town, West Virginia, put in a casino amid much controversy. It improved the situation for the horses at the track, and has resulted in a significant increase in the county’s education revenue. Next time I feel lucky, I might have head across the river!

  24. My husband and I took our youngest granddaughter to a new restaurant on Friday. Surprisingly good, altho it’s been there for 30 years so that’s kind of to be expected. We’ve just never stopped there. But we had to stick close to town while the martial arts class was going on, and the GrandGirl wanted “Naked fish” and this was the closest place. The menu looked good, too, so I expect it’s not going to be our last visit. (I already have The Soldier, so no drawing for me, thanks).

  25. I have most of your books on my Kindle but no paperback or hardback books because of my vision issues from Chemo. I loved the Soldier but my favorite is still The Heir. I will have to look for large print books of yours in the store and would still be honored to have a signed copy of any book.