How to get rid of the writing blues
The question "What am I doing?" kept running in a loop in my mind.
My mind was telling me all the stories: That I was spinning my wheels and never going to gain traction. That my writing sucked and that even if I *did* manage to knock this 5th revision out of the park, it's not like it'll get picked up because of the publishing climate. That all the work I'm doing out there is going unnoticed--that I'm just shouting into a void.
Now, I recognized even as I was having these thoughts that they were just stories--lies--that my brain was telling me. But even so, it didn't stop me from reaching out to my therapist twin sister and whining my little heart out. At first, she reminded me that none of what I'm thinking is true, but as I kept going, she said, "Okay, I can see that you just need a pity party right now." So she held space for me to whine, as I do for her when she wants to throw her own self-bashing shindig. (Sometimes we just need to grieve for a little bit, and that's okay.)
But the real question I had to contend with was: How do I climb out of this blue place? What will actually help? I tried all my go-tos (read a book, get outside, get some exercise, clean the house), but most of them just felt like band-aids...Distractions from allowing myself to feel blue.
Do you know what finally helped? Doing the work. Digging into the 1st pages of a number of writers who took me up on my February Freebie offer. Working on my newsletter. Helping my agenting clients find their story. Drafting a new scene for my novel.
Why did it help?
Well first, because I enjoy doing it. Second, because in doing the work, I realize I have something to say, something to offer, a way to serve and help people.
The same happened when I forced myself to sit down early in the morning and look at my garbage-fire opening chapter revision. (Okay, it's not a complete garbage fire...hello brain lies.) Sitting down to do the work, reminds me that it's not all so hopeless as it feels. In fact, even in the midst of challenges, I love the feeling of creating, of escaping into stories.
Doing the work is a simple way of proving our lying brains wrong. Even when the work itself is tricky, growth happens in moments of challenge, in struggle.
I think that's really all you can do when faced with some kind of setback...get back to work.
My husband is a firefighter and paramedic...so, like the opposite of a book coach and literary agent and writer. The only thing we have in common with our work is that we deal with hearts--literally for him, metaphorically for me. His work is challenging in ways I can't even comprehend, because he's dealing with life and death, plus roommate dynamics, and promotion politics, and loads of competing alpha-male (and female) personalities. He gets put through the wringer. Daily.
But you know what helps him when he faces a setback? Getting back to work. Taking his mistakes or conflicts or insults to the chin, putting a smile on his face, and getting back into the ring.
Because that's just the only way to grow and learn in the face of (inevitable) adversity. I'm writing this to you, as much as to myself, so that I can heal. Even if I think no one reads my words, or hears what I have to say, I have faith that my message will find the right people when they need it.
Just like your book will.
Because that's the magic of putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. Your words, your writing, can hold power. The power to uplift yourself or someone else. To be the lighthouse in the storm.
So get back in the ring. Get back to work. Don't let the blues take you down.