This time last week, I was on top of my game. I had words running off my fingers like honey from a comb. I was making magic, awesome and fierce and unstoppable. I was a musician working on my self-titled album, music flowing through me. I was a wizard over a cauldron of promising toil and trouble.
And then Tuesday happened. The storm.
And then Wednesday happened. The aftermath.
And it hurt. I want to say that I kept moving. That even though someone increased the gravity inside the chambers of my heart, I said, “Nope. Still going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
But I didn’t.
I got depressed, and basically from Thursday through Sunday I didn’t really write anything. I felt like garbage. I was tense and anxious and no matter how much I wanted to will things into existence, everything just shorted out. And I was so mad at myself because I wanted to continue. I wanted to say that I was bigger than everything that was happening. But I wasn’t.
Now, as I’m finally getting back to a state of normalcy, I want to tell you that it’s okay.
It’s okay to lose your way. It’s okay to get angry and upset. It’s okay to rage quit now and then. It’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up over it. No sane self-help book has been written that says, “Self-flagellation is a sure-fire way to get yourself in the state of mind you want to be in!!” It’s okay to step away from your work and have a good cry.
Know that you won’t feel this way forever. It will pass. Even if it’s something indicative of a larger problem that you’re dealing with and even if it’s something that isn’t just going to go away (it rarely is)…your heart is surprisingly buoyant. You won’t always be at the bottom of the ocean. Eventually, you’re going to float back up to the top.
It’s okay. Get back to work when you’re ready.
And you will be ready again. I promise.
A friend told me today that he is thinking about doing NaNoWriMo. He asked if I had any advice. I would like to share this advice with you too, dear reader, dear writer.
Don’t do it for any reason other than to write and have fun doing it. Don’t do it for anyone else or because you feel like you ‘have’ to. It has to be the marriage of challenge and joy.
Prepare, but don’t prepare too much. The devil is in the details, and analysis paralysis will be your enemy. Think over the next week the type of book you want to write, the type of characters you want to give birth to. If you can create a book jacket summary of the overall arc, cool. If not, also cool.
Small chunks of writing will work better than marathon writing. Squeeze it into your schedule. If you don’t already love to write for five hours, you aren’t going to start now.
Don’t give up. Don’t get to the 20th and go, “I only have x words, there’s no way I’m going to get to 50k, I’m done.” Fight to the end. See what happens. Miracles have happened in mere hours.
Just by wanting to do it, you are ahead of the millions of people who say “someday I’ll…” Celebrate that, but just not too much.
If you want to share your creature as it awakens, do it. But tell people to hand over the roses and leave the thorns until 12/1. Because you will want to edit. Every writer does. You will hear yourself say, “Oh wait, this should be this” or “that should have not happened.” Leave the casualties and save yourself.
You can do it. I believe in you.
I don’t know what 2015 has been like for you, but for me? It’s been busy. And that’s putting it lightly. I feel like every day is a stir fry that’s made up the stuff I want to do and the things I have to do. I just take a bowl and whatever I get is what I get.
So I was thinking to myself how I could reach out to you, because I love you and I want to make sure that you are doing okay, but time has been limited. And I decided that instead of doing 5 things I had going on, I would write 5 things that I hope make you feel good about whatever it is you’re doing.
Let’s do this.
1. Any little thing you can do is a tiny step towards something awesome. Don’t have time to squeeze in reading a whole chapter of a book? Read a paragraph. Love that paragraph.
2. You are amazing, good-looking, smart, and talented. Define those things as you will but know that they are true in some form and fashion.
3. Nothing is permanent. And while that can be sad, keep in mind that it applies to all the crappy stuff too. Like bad days. And headaches. And stinky farts.
4. It’s gray outside and that sucks. But you can improve your mood with a blanket, a cup of something warm, music, and a magazine. Or book. Or video game. Whatever. Cozy up and get your chill on.
5. Pamper yourself. One little thing every day. Maybe it’s just a warm pair of socks. Maybe it’s a long shower. Maybe you just let yourself go to bed a little early. You deserve it.
Challenge yourself constantly.
It is 6:15am. Usually, when my husband wakes me at 6, I get up, shuffle into the other room with my phone or my tablet, curl into the corner of my couch and – though my intentions may be good, though I may be trying to check my email and get some of those random, electronic tasks out of the way – I fall back into somewhere between a light nap and full out unconsciousness.
Today, I am sitting up at my computer, where it is not possible to doze. I am typing this. I am avoiding the living room with its tempting couch fortress of relaxation. I am rubbing my eyes. I am straightening my back.
The damn light is on, and, dear reader, it is so bright and I hate it.
I am writing.
Never stop writing. Do a little everyday.
When you’ve gone a while not doing it and then try to get going again, it’s like trying to climb when you’ve been in a straight arm hang.
Gravity is a bitch.