by Martha Alderson
As the world attempts to open up again, it’s easy to want to jump right back into all the activities that brought you joy before COVID. First, take a moment to assess your subplots. I’m not talking about the subplots in your story, but the subplots of your life. In stories, a subplot is a side story that supports and enhances the main story. Many writers pursue a goal of writing a novel with the hope it will enhance their main life as student, wife, researcher, father, engineer, doctor, daughter, teacher, first-responder, or astronaut. As you become more deeply involved with the subplot of writing, it might, in fact, become the main story of your life.
The subplots of our lives connect to our main story and are linked together through a particular meaning. Every subplot has significance to your emotional journey. They reflect and bring a deeper understanding of where you currently stand in your overall development. To access the innermost creativity that is yours and yours alone, first it’s helpful to determine the subplots in your life now and those subplots you’re considering pursuing again as things open up, and measure their influence over you.
1) Place yourself at the level of the main plot of your life and list all the different subplots and commitments and habits that currently come before your writing life—your marriage, family, job, volunteer work, the classes you take, the internet and social media, exercise, shopping, caring for others, etc.
2) List the subplots—activities, projects, causes—you’re considering taking up or rejoining once a wider range of freedoms is available.
3) Next to each of the subplots you listed above—current and projected—include how much time daily or weekly you devote or will devote to each of them.
After you have performed the above exercises, the need to eliminate something to make time for your writing may be obvious and, in the same instant, quite a relief. Sacrificing something you like to make room for something you love—writing—is an ancient purging ritual.
Take a moment to consider your subplots and the commitments you listed above that you could give up or cut back on to free up more time for your writing. Creativity asks that rather than follow others, you instead become an innovative trailblazer into new realms. Sometimes to do that you must first eliminate subplots that interfere with or detract from your main writing goal and living your best life.
With the onset of social media and smart phones, most of us are hard pressed to go an entire day without checking into some form of communication. During the pandemic, interacting through technology has become obsessive. The problem for writers is that interruptions yank you from the semi-meditative zone you relax into when writing in scene. Then, if you’re invested in keeping up on social media and you find, when checking-in, you’ve lost followers, a rush of panic fills you. To settle back into your creative task after being disoriented takes time and focus. More common is to find you’re telling yourself you’ll start in again on your short-term creative step later or perhaps even wait until tomorrow.
The past many months represent a world crisis and a dark night for each of us. You’ve lost—for some—everything. Your worldview and your place in that world shifted—for lots of us radically so. The experience and what you’ve learned has been transformative. Emboldened with clarity, you enter a time of opportunity to reassess and reevaluate and reprioritize what’s important to you now. Once your main story and your subplots are straight and in place, you’re ready to step toward your triumph.
Taken in part from: Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Guide for Overcoming Self-Doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks
Known as the Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson has had a lifelong passion to support women’s voices through their storytelling and creativity. With the help of the Universal Story, she invites writers in Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Workbook for Overcoming Self-Doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks to imagine yourself as the protagonist of your own story as you embark on a journey through all the major turning points found in stories and every creative endeavor.