Ever panic, thinking you might never be able to do what you love again?
Me? I love writing. It’s my job, but also my passion; how I enter the world. And after a season of not feeling well enough to do much of it, I was on a roll in 2012. That is, until the great crash of early 2013.
Hello, my name is Anna. And I haven’t been able to write for over two weeks. Not even a blog post. Me–and I LOVE to blog. Three, sometimes four times a week, blogging is my morning writing exercise.
It’s how I prime the creative pump. It’s the blood that flows first, engaging my creativity, helping me smile or think or dig a little deeper until I’m ready to tackle my daily pages. But ever since I turned in the final developmental rewrites for Three Days on Mimosa Lane the first week in February…nada. The well wasn’t just dry–picture a bunch of two-by-fours nailed across the opening, daring me to rip through them and face the big, bad ugly lurking beyond.
But why? Have the two and a half weeks been about being lazy? Giving up? What about the month before that, when I barely had the energy to complete the TDOML developmental edits and didn’t blog in January, either?
You’ve heard of bone tired. I think I’ve stumbled across the state of being I’m going to call Soul Tired.
Overwhelmed. That’s where we sometimes find ourselves, whether its about writing or family or friends or other commitments that we love but realize we can’t face. Not right now. Not with a smile on our faces and a I’m so glad to be here hug.
When you’re soul tired, you’re disconnected. Sometimes, you’re overwhelmed. But always, always, you’re looking at the world around you and realizing you no longer know or feel your place in it. This happens to me after every manuscript is completed, in some form or another. But the crash this time, the emptying of the determination and drive and excitement of my creative life, was deeper and had lasted longer than anything I’ve encountered before.
And yet, I have another book due June 1st (Love on Mimosa Lane, which I already love ;o), and travel planned (to teach, which I also love ;o), and a family who’d like to get to know me again (more Love!) and good friends patiently waiting for me to dig myself out of my funk. Life is good. But how do you feel that, when you’re soul’s running on empty? How do you feel enough to get back to the writing that’s supposed to feed all the rest of who you are?
It’s easy to say you need to recharge. But be careful with that. Trying to force juice back into a drained system can be tricky business.
What I’ve discovered over the years (and had to re-learn this month) is that sometimes a creative system needs to run on empty for a while, with no direction and no rejuvenation and no demands taxing its depleted resources. Sometimes we need to just be, without direction or goals or productive output. Sometimes, lazy is the best medicine of all.
Take this blog post. I’ve tried to write it every day for over two weeks. I’d open the draft each morning (which I’ve lost more than once, btw, through some computer glitch or another) and stare at it, get distracted by a half a dozen things, and it would still be sitting there uncompleted at the end of the work day. Take the emails that have piled up since I dove into heavy developmental edits in January, which I’ve prioritized and have a task list for, but I can’t seem to whittle away at any but the most critical of them. Take the recipes I’m dying to try (not that I’m dairy AND gluten and soy free), but the thought of making a grocery list, shopping for ingredients, and following basic cooking instructions without setting my kitchen on fire takes feeling overwhelmed to a panic that leaves me in a flop sweat just thinking about it.
There’s no recharging when you’re that drained. When you’re soul’s that tired and overstimulated and wired, there’s no medicine for what ails you, except for a few weeks of doing absolutely nothing. Keep in mind that in those two weeks we’ve celebrated my teen’s 17th birthday (sniffle and YAY!), hosted my in-laws in town, dealt with half a dozen other minor watershed moments in my and my husband’s professional lives, as well has helping the teen face through his final round of Governor’s Honors interviews, prepping for SATS, beginning to strategize for college and scholarship applications, and the list goes on… Restful, no. But I could deal with those moments, as long as I didn’t have to plan or monitor progress or be 100% responsible on my own for the outcome of anything.
So it’s been two weeks of no expectations. No gauging results. No consequences. No labeling anything a success. Just living…
So how do we write when we’re soul tired? My advice is, we don’t. We live. We revel. We experience. We re-fill that well, without focusing on recharging energy. We don’t place any demands on time for a change. For just a little while.
If we do, the writing and the creative and the determination will come back. But the longer we try to force the mending of an over-taxed mind, the weaker and more delayed the recovery–and the soul that returns.
These last few weeks, I’ve been planning both Love on Mimosa Lane as well as a four-book continuation of the ML series. In my mind. Nothing on paper. But…I’m suddenly in love with the ideas that are beginning to take shape.
I’m excited about the possibility of diving into my fourth novel in less than a year. I’m beginning to sleep again at night. Just a little. I can almost believe the pressure won’t crush me this time, as I launch back into new writing, while I wait for more edits on Three Days on Mimosa Lane, while I plan promotion for it’s July 23rd release (as well as for the first three books in the series, since for around 6 months from July ‘13 through next year this time I’ll be promoting something from Mimosa Lane pretty much non-stop), while I help coordinate the 2013 RWA Conference workshops, while I prepare to travel and teach other writers about the craft I love so much…
These last few weeks, I’ve turned off the fear and expectations and learned how to just be again. A person, an artist, a writer, a wife and mother.
Try it, the next time your soul feels to numb to deal with the next thing on your list.
I promise…sometimes doing absolutely NOTHING is the very best medicine of all.
Tags: Anna DeStefano, anna's world, Christmas on Mimosa Lane, creativity & inspiration, Mimosa Lane, Three Days on Mimosa Lane, writing, writing articles, writing coach, writing craft, writing resources, writing workshops