I’m a new recruit to Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (the link takes you to details on what that means and how to join. You’ll also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge – do check them out).
On the first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.
This month’s question is: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
And yes, image aside, I get that the question is using inclement weather as a metaphor, for we all knows that a rainy day is a good excuse to stay indoors and write, write, write rather than an actual problem.
When it’s external factors causing the gloom, I’m a great advocate of self-care. By giving more time and energy into doing what you need to do, you make room for the muse to return. This could be anything from fluffy self-pampering to rolling up your sleeves to address the issues which are taking away your focus and/or creativity. For example, when my mind is too full with everything I have on my to do list and I feel overwhelmed, I have to compartmentalise. By prioritising and focusing on one thing until it is done, I can get an enormous amount done. But this method can require a significant amount of defending the boundaries from all those people who want to change my priorities to suit their own. Still, I advocate it. It’s the one time when I’m brief, to the point and firm. It’s when I can say “no” really easily, because what I’m actually saying is “no, not yet but if you wait your turn, it’ll be a yes.”
But if that doesn’t work, my first act is to amend my writing goals and cut myself some writerly slack. Then I try to find a way to keep writing and trying something different has worked for me. When my father died, I stopped being able to work on my existing WIPs. But I was able to respond to prompts and write short pieces. So that’s what I did. And that’s what I kept doing until the muse struck me again with a new story idea. Only when that happened, did I allow myself to sit down to try and make the writing happen on any of my WIPs. I keep a stack of prompts saved in my Pinterest account, so it was easy to browse and I wrote stuff whenever one struck a chord. Also, co-hosting a fiction website, I had some strict deadlines and some less strict ones, which kept me writing. But even without that discipline, inspiration and associated deadlines are available on a ton of sites who provide regular prompts on a wide range of subject matter and in different formats (everything from single words, to word/phrase combinations, to images to lyrics). The key bit is making a decision to participate … and the hard part is to do it.
© Debra Carey, 2018