The Upside of Downtime

I’m lying beside-the-pool lounge-chair style on my sofa with my laptop propped up on a pillow. The breeze outside speaks of soon-coming rain, which I’d welcome. The sound beats the nasty news program on the measles “contagion” running rampant in California and even nastier politician’s remarks ten fold. And although a serious cold is consuming much of my energy and my main writing projects are somewhat on hold (for a very short time, thank goodness), I’m finding the downtime refreshing. 

down·time noun \ˈdau̇n-ˌtīm\

1: time during which production is stopped especially during setup for an operation or when making repairs
: inactive time (as between periods of work)  – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
If you’re like me, sitting still, napping and other forms of static relaxation are, well, not particularly relaxing. (If you’re not, pajama hat off to you!) Since I already learned that working too hard at the onset of a cold fuels its toxic fire, I’m taking it easy.
The benefits so far:
  • I wrote a short story for the NPR Three Minute Fiction contest. (I wouldn’t have, had I not been resting.)
  • Plentiful time for daydreaming, which often fuels fiction.
  • Added phone chats with my mom and sister.
  • Extra hang-time with my dog.
  • Writing/reading blogs… Connecting with friends online.
  • Housecleaning = not happening.
Anticipated benefits:
  • The glee of feeling great again, once I do.
  • Renewed vigor for my writing works-in-progress.
What about you? What do you do to relax? What are the benefits? I always love hearing from you, so feel free to post comments or tweet me @AugstMcLaughlin. As a “thanks” for your support, one lucky commenter will receive a $15 gift card on Monday. If you haven’t yet entered, here’s your shot.
“No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you’d be more productive.” Dr. Joyce Brothers
“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden, or even your bathtub.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
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  1. To relax, I enjoy reading good fiction, playing with my daughters (although they are getting older and less inclined to play with dad) and spending time vegging on a couple of PC games that always seem to inspire creative thoughts for me. The ultimate relaxation though, and I have two equal ones are listening to classical music (Mozart, Bach, etc) while reading or daydreaming and hiking. Something about the calm freshness of nature relaxes me to the core and always reinvigorates me back to life.

    Hope you are feeling better soon, August. Enjoy the productive relaxation 🙂

  2. journalpulp

     /  September 25, 2011

    Curiously enough, I just wrote about more or less this same thing: at least half of the writing process takes place inside the brain, before pen ever touches paper.

    Just incidentally, did you know that the writer Alan Garner routinely spent an entire year ruminating and researching before he ever wrote down a single line? And then, when at last he did begin to write, he made it a point to always think of his final line first.

  3. Thanks both of you for your insight and well-wishes!

    I’m going to have to read up more on Alan Garner… Terrific, on-topic story. Ruminating and researching — love it.

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