The Beauty of Something New

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:

RunningFromHellwithEl: How I Became a Rebel Thriver
Ellie Ann: 15 Thrilling Moments at the Cinema
Natalie Hartford: 5 Things I’ll Never Apologize For

What do you do to keep things lively and joyful in your life or career? What’s the latest “something new” you’ve tried?

Leave a comment

67 Comments

  1. Running from Hell with El

     /  June 14, 2012

    Good morning my friend!! I loved this post–right from the very start, when you spoke about writing the dark pieces . . .I identify. My best writing for so long was dark. I inhabited it and was inspired by it-or so it seemed . . . except when I cracked jokes and told stories.

    Something changed. I healed. And now I can dwell in the dark places but I can also tap into the lighter ones.

    I love the way you outlined how folks can rekindle their zest for life. And I cannot wait to read your book.

    Oh my gosh–and thank you for mentioning my blog!! That was so generous of you!!

    Shine on sister!!!

    Reply
    • Small part general, the rest, SMART! It’s a pleasure sharing your work. I certainly identified with that post of yours, as well as many others.

      So glad you’ve been able to tap into the brighter spots! Artists may work through darkness through creative expression, but even our work shines more once we thrive. 😉

      Reply
  2. August, I say this is all wonderful advice just for life in general – to get that wheeee feeling whether you write or not. When I had a period in my life of depression for years, I wrote then. I thought I could only write when depressed then, not happy. I broke through my depression and stopped writing. I then realized I CAN write when I’m happy – and write better and actually finish a project whereas before I couldn’t. I finally understood that as a writer I didnt need to be full of angst to create wonderful things…being full of love, contentment, and confidence fuels so much more.

    Reply
    • I nodded my head through your whole comment. 🙂 Darker times seem to lead many artists to their craft. After that, though, we owe it to ourselves, our creativity and our work to shine like crazy—IMHO.

      Reply
  3. Coleen Patrick

     /  June 14, 2012

    Great advice August. And this made me smile: “finishing my first novel in a rapid, giddy rampage.” 🙂

    Reply
  4. What a wonderful post, August. I got my new Kindle two days ago, and it inspired a string of happy productivity. It will be fun to recreate the feeling and its effects. 🙂

    Reply
  5. My latest “WHEEE! Feeling” is just having summer here. There’s just something wonderful about those kids-being-out-of-school, short wearing, ice-cream-eating days. Even when we have to work. Wheeee!!

    Reply
    • Ooh, I totally remember that feeling from growing up in Minnesota. The more noticeable season changes have serious perks. 🙂 Happy summer!

      Reply
      • Yes, I’m willing to put up with winter so I can have the other three. Especially fall. Love fall!

  6. Fabulous post August and THANK YOU for the lovely shout out. I am honored!!!
    Love your list of things to break into something new and spark that “special” feeling. It’s so true. I think trying new things and doing new things to keep us feeling fresh and alive is absolutely crucial to our health and happiness.
    As you know, hubby and I take a vacation every year. I also get that joyous bubble feeling from going camping, golfing, walking hand-in-hand with hubby someplace new, discovery new waterfalls, picnics, lazy days at the beach and especially coming home to and cuddling with baby girl (my dog).
    Hubby and I are into a lot of different things and I’ve always felt that it was that variety and spice that helps us keep things fresh and fabulous. Always trying new things and exploring possible adventures is FUN!!
    Fab post darlin’!

    Reply
    • You seem to ooze that WHEEEE feeling, Natalie! Variety really is important, as is attitude. Love your ideas—discovering new waterfalls especially. 😉 Give your baby girl a hug for me. Life would feel wrong without our furry friends!

      Reply
  7. Kourtney Heintz

     /  June 14, 2012

    Aw thank you for the amazing shout out! Every time I get a request, I get that rush. 🙂 Or when I catch the beach at low tide by accident and can walk the sandbars. That is one of my favorite unexpected happy moments.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for the inspiring post, August. My daughter keeps me infused (most of the time) with the whee feeling – it’s a never-ending ride with her. And there’s nothing like seeing the smile on her face in the morning or snuggling with her at night. I also cherish the beautiful light summer days, when the sky is clear and the air is warm but not hot enough to make you sweat. I love going for long walks on those days, and they always recharge me:)

    Reply
  9. I just love that wheee feeling! I agree, just about anything new gives me varying degrees of that feeling. Any package in the mail that’s not a bill does it for sure :-). An email or phone call from a friend does too. The thought that someone was thinking about me in a positive way makes me smile :-).

    I really want to go find a swing now!

    Reply
  10. mgmillerbooks

     /  June 14, 2012

    Your friend is very lucky, and I’ll bet he’s experiencing that rollercoaster right now: joy, vulnerability and fear all rolled up into one. But yes, it’s also inspiring, worth every risk of being hurt, and just plain crazy good 🙂 Cheers!

    I’ve experienced a lot of the same things you have that got the old dopamine flowing, and there are very few things in this world that can compare.

    Lately, I have been delving into new things that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and the experience has enriched a rather static perspective. I feel as if giving over to this “something new” will ultimately affect my writing as well. Oh, I’ll always dark, because that’s the side of humanity that fascinates me, but because of these new experiences, I already feel enlightened.

    Thank you for another wonderful post, August.

    Reply
  11. What a joyful post 🙂 I love those little ups and downs, and I’m always looking for ways to put that feeling into my work.

    Reply
  12. Some great inspirational stuff there. Well done, thanks for sharing. I could have used those when I was writing my book. Maybe I’ll kidnap them for the sequel. 😉

    Reply
  13. So many things give me that ‘whee’ feeling. I bought a new car a couple of days ago. Whee. driving it is a pleasure. I love the smell and the feel and the big tires. LOL My granddaughter stayed with me last night and she was devastated that mom and dad left her. But after 15 minutes of sobbing, she settled in and ate a couple of cookies and crawled into my lap to watch tv. Life can’t get much better than that with a two year old.

    whee moments – I have lots of them…everyone does when we take a look around. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  14. Ginger Calem

     /  June 14, 2012

    I love getting that Weeeee feeling! Your tips are fab for keeping the newness of life sharp and the energy buzzing. I love it!

    Reply
  15. I seem to be most creative when I’m slightly depressed. So now what to do since recently getting married? My last 3 years have been rather unproductive as far as writing, but my new wife has supported me in pursuing my long lost love. Photography. One problem. You suggest “play dress up”? I’ve asked, even pleaded. But to no avail. Ah well. I do love your writing, otherwise. And this post. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Perhaps one day you’ll pair photography and dress-up. Nothing wrong with a little fashionable solitaire… 😉 Thanks for the kind words!

      Reply
  16. Great post and so true! I never associated the wheee feeling with trying new things, but trying them does definitely put a little extra pep in one’s step. I intend to try more new things in the future, so that I can experience this feeling without necessarily falling in love, which is the ultimate high. Congratulations and continued success with your writing!

    Reply
  17. August, I totally get what you mean by “wheee feeling.” A while ago I was suffering from “uninspired writing” (not writer’s block). I took a day, went to a park (a location featured in my book), and wrote down everything I saw, including a beautiful romantic scene. I went home feeling happy. That day energized me (and my writing) for months.
    I’ll try your suggestions next time 🙂

    Reply
  18. I love when that wheee feeling happens. It’s rare so you have to enjoy it.

    Reply
  19. Shannon Esposito

     /  June 14, 2012

    “Love notes to the sky”. That would make a perfect title for something…collection of short stories maybe? When I was younger, i could only write from dark places (except, you know, that unicorn novel I wrote when I was nine 🙂 Anyway, now I can write even when I’m in a good place, which I hadn’t thought about until now. Interesting.

    My wheee moments lately have involved cooking. I’ve never been much of a foodie, but I’ve really gotten into kitchen gagets lately and making indian food. It’s the little things 🙂

    Reply
    • Cute! I’d love to see that unicorn novel! I think my first was the Mysterious Pizza Tree. lol

      I LOVE Indian food. Expect recipes in that area soon. 😉 So glad you’ve found giddiness in the kitchen. Cooking can be super therapeutic.

      Reply
  20. EllieAnn

     /  June 14, 2012

    Something new I’ve tried lately is meditation. I did it for a bit in college, but now before I go to sleep I’ll repeat a mantra or verse to myself, and just meditate. Sometimes it’s profound. Sometimes I fall asleep. But it’s a good way to end the day.
    Love your post! Per usual.

    Reply
    • Ooh, so cool. Meditation has been on my to-do list for some time—just haven’t gotten around to it officially. Sounds like a restful sleep-inducing practice worth trying. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply
  21. It’s so wonderful that you could share that feeling with your friend. Thank you or sharing your tips with us. They are fabulous. Love them, as always.

    Reply
  22. A truly wonderful post August. It also made me realise that something doesn’t have to be brand-spanking new in order for you to experience that Weeeeeeeee!!! feeling, 😉
    Rediscovering something commonplace by looking at it in a different way is a great way to be rejuvenated as well.
    Great tips, tho, will definitely try them out! 🙂

    Reply
  23. Stacy S. Jensen

     /  June 14, 2012

    I love trying new things. I enrolled in community college classes recently and am enjoying the challenge of fitting everything into my life. I love the thrill of a new restaurant too.

    Reply
  24. Such a great post August! I agree we need to shake things up to keep our writing fresh and lively. After all, where our lives go so goes our writing. I recently had a sleepover with a friend I’d never met in person (only online). It was a BLAST and so energizing. Thanks for this great reminder.

    Reply
  25. Another great read Austin. Thanks. I have read a couple articles on the human experience you explained through the example of falling in love. One in a National Geographic magazine years ago, and another in a book called “The Road Less Traveled” which uses the word cathexis to define the process in discussion. It not only occurs when one loses oneself in the interest of another, but also such things as writing, surfing, skiing…,anything that helps us to break down the walls of our finite universe and allow the infinite universe to spill in. What a great experience to pursue; the leaving behind of the finite self, to discover the width, height, breadth, and depth of life, universe, and beyond!! This falling in love thing seems to be the intimate process of permeating into the universe of another, and them into your’s. Perhaps a soulful permeating that goes far beyond material. How wonderful to find a portal beyond the material world. I leaving again, for a bit, right now:)

    Thanks for the great share, for the inspiration to get the life blood excited.

    Cheers!
    Reno

    Reply
    • So glad you found it inspiring! Breaking our inner-walls down is so important.

      Reply
      • Isnt that the more powerful longing Austin, to become one with all, rather than to become rooted in the limits of self and individuality? The greatest moments of joy and gratitude I have ever experienced have been in the giving, the serving, the complete losing of myself. The most depressing moments were the ones of self absorption.

        Without getting too deep on this, I don’t want to be misunderstood – Balance within this individuality we have to navigate world with is of much importance.

        Blessings friend!!

  26. Inspiring post, August. I loved your list of getting the whee feeling. This weekend I’ll cook something different. I have a ton of recipes saved but I rarely try them out. Thanks for the encouragement.

    My best whee moments come with my kids. They’re 3 years old and contagiously enthusiastic. It’s wonderful to watch them experience and learn new things and enjoy life.

    Reply
  27. Like 8teen39 and you, I used to do most of my writing during periods of depression. But as I mature as a writer, I find my outlook more hopeful, more positive. Maybe not so much a “wheee” feeling, but definitely a personal contentment and a desire to share that outlook with others.

    Reply
  28. It’s a wonderful post. I liked the way you write this one a lot. It’s not possible experience that WHEEE! Feeling every day; So we need to enjoy it, when it comes.

    Reply
  29. What a lovely post! Thank you x

    Reply
  30. Raani York

     /  June 16, 2012

    I have nominated you for the Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award. Please follow this link and copy the logo and questions. Paste them to your site and fill them out along with 10 blogs. Have fun! Congratulations! http://raaniyork.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/mrs-sparklys-ten-commandments-award/

    Reply
  31. Awesome post and I love, love, love your WHEEE list!

    Yesterday I was at a wedding reception and I noticed that all the men were sitting away from their wives/partners. My man found a TV in the other room and was very involved in the golf game. I decided to join him and we watched it for about 15 minutes. Then we went back to our table. Together.

    I think that if we reach out more and share the interests of spouses, friends and family, it will come back to us tenfold!

    Reply
    • Lovely story and message. I’ve definitely gotten a kick out of dabbling in friends’ and loved ones’ hobbies. The more we “play” the better, right? 😉

      Reply
  32. Hi August 🙂 Sometimes I forget to take the time to find joy, though I usually wake up with that warm feeling in my chest. But yesterday, I ran out of steam – we’re working on the house expansion, so I grabbed the kindle, laid on the couch with Irish instrumentals playing, and remembered exactly why living is good 🙂

    Reply
  33. That’s a great feeling when writing sad songs turns to happy songs. Great advice for feeding those cravings, too!

    Reply
  1. Benefits Of Being The Commuting Writer …by Susan Lute « See Jane Publish
  2. Me….in 10 words?!?! – Natalie Hartford
  3. Tall Tale Tuesday: Where You From? « Ellie Ann
  4. Urgency to Write: How to Keep The Fire Burning « August McLaughlin's Blog
  5. Writing Blog Treasures 6~23 | Gene Lempp ~ Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: