Sunday, June 20, 2010

Facing the ups and downs of writing

Recently over at the Scribble Chicks blog (where I post on Fridays) a reader asked this question:

I'm not sure if this is just me or all writers, but I always have so many emotions when writing or thinking of a story. This isn't always bad but it can be hard to be on the top of the world one second and on the bottom the next. How do you deal with the mood swings that come with being a writer? Again, this might just be me...

Here's how I responded:

It's not just you. Trust me, ask any writer you know and I bet they'd agree with you on this a 100%. I have had so many ups and downs during the process of writing that it's not even funny. One minute I love the story, the next I hate it. One day the words flow like a river, then next it feels like pulling teeth to write a sentence. This is completely normal. Sometimes I want to bemoan the fact that writing can cause all these crazy emotions, but then I realize that we can use these emotions to our benefit.

I'm noticing that many, many creative people feel deeply. It's how we're wired. It's what gives us the drive to do things like sit in front of a computer for hours on end writing about imaginary people!

I believe recognizing the fact that feeling all the emotions you're feeling is completely normal is the first step in conquering them. Because even though we can use them to our benefit, let's face it---it's not fun to go through a low time.

Here are some tips:
  • Step away from the computer (or notepad) and do something completely unrelated to writing for a little while - this will help you recharge. Try not to think about your writing at all during this time. Sometimes a break is just the thing you need.

  • Often we'll feel low when our perfectionist tendencies kick into gear (this is what happens to me, at least), so give yourself some slack and permission to just write. Don't edit, just write. You can edit later.

  • Watch a funny movie with a friend or family member. This'll lighten your mood. We writers can be way too serious sometimes!

  • Remember that God is right there with you ready to lift you up---but often we need to take the first step toward him. Ask Him to help you. He will, because He loves you!

  • Write through it. For some the best cure is to keep on writing no matter what you feel, and eventually you have to do this anyway, so why not get some words under your belt!

  • We are often our worst critics and way too hard on ourselves. Remembering that will help.

6 comments:

Koala Bear Writer said...

Great advice. I can totally identify too - writing is definately an up-and-down business. I like going for a swim or bike ride when I'm down or brain-dead. :)

Martha Ramirez said...

Awesome post C.J. Very true. Great tips:)

Anonymous said...
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Terri Tiffany said...

I love your list! Thanks!

Bethany Pierce said...

I'm a fan of "watch a funny movie." My husband and I recently realized we only watch comedies anymore: too much drama in real life to risk watching it on television!

Judith Briles said...

Wow, these are very good tips. Often, we really need to take a break once in a while and refresh our minds. The pressure of writing the perfect book and finishing it on time will definitely cram our mind. A little time off is indeed helpful