Monday, September 22, 2008

Writing Doldrums

Us writers love writing. That's why we sit down in front of our laptops and do the best to express ourselves after a long day of working our regular jobs, caring for our families, taking care of our homes and ourselves, right? We bound out of bed every morning with chapters percolating in our heads and our fingers just itching to get words down on a page, don't we?

Well, some of the time. The fact is, love isn't always daydreams and fairytales. It also requires a lot of hard work. It's often hard to take the time to write with everything else that's going on in the world. Face it, a lot of the process of writing for (the hope of) a living can be pretty thankless. There are those bright moments when someone loves one of your turns of phrase, or a submission gets accepted, or you earn your first dollar as a published author. But otherwise, we spend long hours working on projects that might never see the light of day. We have to squeeze writing into those cracks and crannies of time that are left over after we've taken care of everything else, and no one is going to give us a medal for doing so.

So what's a writer to do? How to avoid slipping into the Writing Doldrums?

In my recent struggles with the Doldrums, I've found a few things that seem to help.

It helps to get out of the house and away from the computer once in a while. I try to get out at least once a week to play Ultimate - good exercise, and good people. And today, I attended the Maryland Wine Festival for the first time. The music was good, the food was tasty, and I now know how to say Gewurztraminer.

Also, I try and get as much feedback as possible, from individuals, writers' groups, editors, and teachers. This improves my writing, and it also signals to my brain in a real way that what I'm doing isn't pointless. There are people out there willing to look at what I've done and put in their two cents. I'm not operating in a vacuum.

Last but not least, I try not to be so hard on myself. Whenever I'm putting pen to paper and making any sort of an effort towards getting published, I'm already working on achieving a dream. Whether or not I do end up making it as a published author, I'm doing something that's important to me, somthing that I love. And there's so much to be said for that.

Still, sometimes all of this isn't enough, and I end up slipping into those dreaded Writing Doldrums. What about you? Any experiences with the Doldrums? And what did you do to escape them?
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