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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Have you ever noticed that writing is sometimes a lot like the weather? If we work hard at it, most days can be sunny and pleasant—not remarkable, but enjoyable. Occasionally, the words will come pouring in a torrential rainfall, blowing and swirling around us until they threaten to carry us away like Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz. Then there are those drought times. The times when no matter how hard we try, the words just won’t come.

But I have to stop and examine what’s really going on when I hit one of these droughts. Is it really that the words won’t come or am I just not putting in enough (or any) effort? What am I doing that is taking focus away from my writing? How am I spending the time I’m supposed to be writing? What excuses am I making for the time I’m letting slip away without getting anything accomplished?

And then it strikes me—whenever I start feeling a drought in my writing life, I’m feeling it in all areas of my life. As someone with cyclical depression, I know the signs of a downward spiral . . . and it usually follows a time spent focusing too much on me and not enough on my writing, on others, and on God. It also usually follows a time of stress—such as having my car break down on me Monday on my way to the car place to get it looked at, starting to teach a new Sunday school class, figuring out that I’m not going to be able to afford to go to Pennsylvania for alumni weekend at Seton Hill in June. 

Once I recognize the signs (compulsive eating, staying up extremely late, wanting to do nothing but sit in front of the TV, having extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, not wanting to have contact with anyone), I can start pulling myself back out of it by refocusing outside of myself—calling my friend Gayle and talking and praying with her; getting back into critiquing for my crit partners; making sure I am meeting my word count every day; sending Easter cards to my niece and nephews; spending time in Bible study; picking up a new book to read; writing an entry for the blog.

So, here I am, on one of the steps of that journey, posting a blog, writing the first words since I posted on Sunday. I apologize for not having anything insightful or profound to share about the craft of writing, but hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll be back on track, both here and with everything else. Until then, I beg your indulgence while I try to refocus and pull myself back up emotionally.

Love to all!


  1. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 2:22 am

    Great words. You described me to a tee when you mentioned the withdrawing, staying up late, etc. I hope I can safely attribute that to being sick and not to an emotional problem, but who knows! Either way, you’ve got the right idea. To just re-focus on the things you like to do during the times you don’t feel that way. A friend once told me that when he felt depressed he did all the things he normally did when he wasn’t so that when he stopped feeling depressed he’d be able to enjoy the fruits of those labors. I think that’s a good philosophy, if one can stick to it. I almost always have words pouring out of me. My problem is forcing myself to stop writing. Of course, I’m referring to blog and essay type writing which is far easier and requires a very different sort of concentration (in my opinion at least) than writing fiction. Though I don’t suffer from writer’s block with fiction either, it does require a lot more effort and I do often have to nudge myself to start working on fiction instead of the other type of writing that comes so naturally to me. Now, if I could only improve my story telling abilities, it would be great. I’ll have to check your archives to search for tips (I already purchased a book I love due to something I read here, so thanks).


  2. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 3:52 pm

    I’ve been in a bit of a drought myself. I’ve never edited a book so slowly as I am doing now. I tell myself it is because of all I’m learning and trying to implement, but in reality, it has a lot to do with not sitting myself down to do the work like I should. You’ve encouraged me. 🙂


  3. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 6:36 pm

    Kaye, have to say good job for knowing the signs and pulling yourself out of it! Not everyone will take action against it like that.

    For me, at least when writing, my droughts are because I haven’t planned enough. I’ve fallen in love with an idea and characters, but I have no idea what’ll happen after the first 10,000 words and so we sit. If I take time to plan the story out, I’ll get moving again.


  4. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 7:56 pm

    Just found your blog a few days ago and am enjoying it very much! I related to this post as I struggle with depression and your description is quite similar to what I experience. Thanks for writing!


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