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An Author's Advice on How To Show Up, Even When You're Uninspired

Stephanie Held
June 12, 2018
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The #mActivityPeople interview series focuses on the mindful lives and health routines of mActivity’s inspiring community. Submit your own on Instagram—post your mindful mActivity (tag us @mactivitynh!) and include the hashtag #mActivityPeople for a chance to be featured on our blog.

Most often, Amy Bloom would rather have a latte and croissant than workout. Even as she ascends in her career as the author of two New York Times bestsellers and her latest novel, White Houses, is said by Esquire to be one of the top 27 books to read in 2018, sitting down to write is often met with reluctance.

Amy faces conflict like so many of us who set goals and then feel otherwise about doing them. During our conversation, she revealed how she has learned to show up for her work and her health, even when uninspired. “The older I get, the more strongly I feel that you cannot just sort of go about everyday life distracting yourself and hoping inspiration will strike. That is not inspiration’s job. Your job is to make yourself as available as possible to inspiration,” she said.

Maybe you will meet this wise and lovely mActivity member in-person at her favorite class, Natalie’s Standing Flow. Maybe her commitment to showing up to write will help you show up for yourself, your loved ones, at the gym, for your art, profession, whatever it is that helps you live well.

Stephanie: When did writing become your full-time job?

Amy: I began writing in my mid-thirties. When I was starting out I kept my day job, which I strongly encourage people to do, until I started getting published. My first collection of short stories was published in my forties. Today I'm a fiction writer. My latest book is historical fiction and titled White Houses. It’s about Eleanor Roosevelt’s love affair with journalist Lorena Hickok. I have written a children's book and collection of essays, but primarily fiction. I go back and forth between short stories and novels.

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Stephanie: Who inspired you to write?

Amy: I read widely as a child, so I don't know that I felt particularly inspired by any one writer. I always had this sense, though, that to be in a library was to enter the universe; I loved that by reading I could live inside the lives of other characters. I don’t think it is uncommon if you love to read and you love language to at least contemplate the possibility of writing.

 Stephanie: Do you have any habits or routines that help you stay inspired?

Amy: Staying inspired is a tricky business; writing was never just a creative dream. You gotta show up every day and you’ve got to hustle. Some days the muse shows up. Some days the muse is elsewhere. My job is to be at my desk, whether or not she shows up or not. My dad was a journalist, so I knew writing as an everyday business that involved showing up and typing away from 9 to 5 p.m. during the week.

I learned that when you're not inspired, you better bang out 500 words anyway. If it’s really not coming, maybe I will edit something else that I'm working on. Maybe I will take notes for another project. Whatever it is that I end up doing, I have to be in the field, doing the work, whether I feel happy doing it that day or not.

Stephanie: I love seeing how people’s lives grow from discipline, inspiration and faith.

Amy: Well, as Mother Theresa said on a different subject, “faith without work has no point.” I try to have faith in myself. You have good days and bad days, but I do believe that showing up every day intentionally is better than showing up randomly.

Natalie's Standing Flow: Saturdays @ 8:30 - 9:20 a.m.

Stephanie: What keeps you “showing up” for exercise?

Amy: There is a point in life, probably sometime in your forties if you're paying attention, or in your fifties if you weren't paying attention, that you have an obligation to what you care about. You cannot just rely on good luck and good genes to help you hold onto it. This is what motivated me to always do something active.

I'll usually drag myself to the gym, however reluctantly, two to three times per week to do Pilates and a little circuit on the machines. It doesn't have to be a big deal or flashy, you don't need to impress anybody with it, but yes, you have to show up just as you as you do for your work. Most days I would rather have a latte and a croissant, but I also really like being able to walk and move comfortably in the world, and it's very gratifying to be able to balance on my knees on a ball, like a trained seal in the circus.

Book lovin' captured at mActivity

Stephanie: Why did you choose mActivity?

Amy: I like the atmosphere. I like the fact that it's chill and people are pleasant, and by that I don’t see large guys flinging their weights to the ground, acting as if they are gladiators in the incredibly high stakes universe of lifting weights. I appreciate not having to encounter that. I love Natalie's standing flow class. I think she's extraordinary. I like that there are old people there. The trainers all seem to have a really great attitude and sort of radiate a certain amount of positive energy. Plus, I'm happy with any place that I can get a decent cup of coffee.

Amy will be giving a reading from her latest book, White Houses, this Wednesday June 13 @ 6:30 p.m. at the North Haven Library.

“Bloom deftly explores what might have been in this novel about the real romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok. . . . It’s a sensuous, captivating account of a forbidden affair between two women, one of them viewed by all the world as a saint.”—People




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