Monday, January 23, 2012

What Keeps Me Writing When Life Gets Rough

I have a secret. Occasionally I'm hit with a terrible mood that won't lift. It not only affects my daily life, but it kills my writing. Any number of things might cause it--you know--bad news sometimes gets us down, but I work very hard to not let the mood stop me from working toward my dreams.

My secret?

Well, I have more than one. Since I like to go big or not at all, I have five.

1. Prayer.

Only through daily conversations with God am I able to find the strength to turn on my laptop and open my manuscript.

2. Sugar.

Many of you know I am a chocoholic. When life is going great, I eat healthier and rarely snack during my writing sessions. But...when life runs me over, I turn to my stash of candy bars. I kid you not, Nestle Crunch and M&Ms have salvaged more writing sessions than I care to admit. I also stock hard candy, such as Lifesavers, during the crazies.

3. Permission to do whatever it takes.

If I'm struggling and sitting in front of my laptop with a glazed look on my face and pigeons fluttering through my brain, I give myself permission to watch a silly YouTube video. Maybe I wrote 125 words and feel a massive urge to crack a can of Pepsi open? I go ahead and do that. And while I'm in the fridge I tell myself that if it takes four sodas, I will get my daily word count in. Whatever. It. Takes.

4. I whine.

My local writer friends listen to me whine a lot. They're wonderful. I could not make it without them.

5. I remind myself that the mood will pass.

Everything really WILL get better soon. I just have to ride it out. Moods come and go. Seasons come and go. Good times come. Then they go. It's the way of life. :)

So if you find yourself in a mood darker than a starless, moonless night, and the very thought of opening your manuscript makes you tremble inside--take a deep breath. Pray. Eat a candy bar. Give yourself temporary permission to be unhealthy, whine, and remind yourself that this mood will end.

How do you keep writing when life gets rough?

Have a wonderful Monday!


  1. I skip to a scene I'm excited about working on. Also, free writing helps me a lot. I give myself permission to write whatever is in my brain - even if it's whining or a different project.

  2. I just keep going the best I can. Or I take a small break in order to get inspired and read good books and watch great movies.

  3. Like Laura, I find that taking a break long enough to read a good book or watch an excellent movie or tv show can help encourage me. Chocolate is a winner, too. Often I find that working on another creative project, knitting or quilting, can help refresh me (though that only works so long as those projects are going well - have to pick out fifty rows of knitting does not exactly lift my mood when I'm already grumpy).

    If the weather allow, going for a walk is a wonderful way to lift the spirits and get energized.

  4. I'm the opposite. Writing helps me keep going when life gets tough. Sinking into my imaginary world and hanging out with my characters really seems to help.

  5. Good list--#3 Works wonders for me too!

  6. Riding it out. ;)

    I love your ways of keeping at it. Sometimes my characters are just the "escape" I need.
    ~ Wendy

  7. I can't skip around - it just doesn't work for me. But your solutions are pretty close to mine. Caffeine, I've found, at least makes it feasible to stay butt-in-chair. Whining a little helps - added bonus, a little whine goes a long way and helps me refocus on what my goals actually are. I know, I'm weird.

    But sometimes I just have to take a step away - read a long-awaited book, take a walk, work on a quilting project...

    Thanks for sharing!!

  8. I totally get where you are. The eyes in the dog picture say it all!

    Ride it out is the only way! It WILL pass - I say this to myself too. The best thing to do, I think.

  9. Julie: That's a great tip. Writing something I'm fired up about takes some of the pressure off. :)

    Laura: I wander around the library and read great books too. Books seem to cure most ills, don't they? :)

    Louise: It's funny, I was just thinking about my long-abandoned crochet project. You're onto something!

    Stina: Writing is therapeutic--and I think all of our rough spots help us write realistically. :)

    Christina: I've brewed the extra pot of coffee, taken a break every 13 seconds--you name it! Whatever it takes!

    Wendy: True! Sometimes it's fun to pour everything into our characters. :)

    Katie: Diet Coke helps everything, don't you think?

    Kristina: I have trouble skipping around a manuscript too. I'm a linear thinker, so that would stress me out more!

    Freya: Isn't that dog pathetic? I sympathize with that pooch!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. I wish I could keep a stash of candy. I'd be as big as a house if I did, though.

    I try to find something I know will make me smile, like a youtube video or one of the silly cat sites. If I'm struggling with writing, I'll sometimes get a pencil and notebook and just start journaling about the scene or characters.

    Thanks for sharing your tricks:)

  11. Your list looks great. I just wish I remembered to do them in this order. I tend to shove prayer farther down the list after whining and carbs.

  12. I take a walk. It seems to clear my head enough to push through the hard part.

  13. I love to whine at my husband. I have perfected it into an art form. I can whine and make it look sophisticated and productive. Imagine that!

    I also believe that changing my setting -- going to a favorite coffeeshop, a garden, a hiking trail, even another town nearby, can break the logjam and get me moving forward again. I move myself physically to move myself mentally!

    I love the doggy picture. I WANT the doggy and I am not a doggy person.

  14. Because I'm not a wild plotter like Julie, I can't skip scenes, but I pray for sure. And I do whatever it takes.

    Great 5!

  15. I never know when the punches are coming, but I'm good at rolling.

  16. Like you, I pray, I eat chocolate, I whine to a few close friends, then I jump in again. Praise music helps, too. Something about getting my mind off of little me and onto Big God, is amazing.

  17. What a terrific list! I hear ya on the prayer! It's my go to when I'm feeling low or I'm stuck on my writing.

  18. Stacy: YouTube videos and silly cat sites always make me happy! And I'm shocked candy survives in my house, but somehow, my stash stays fine when things are good. :)

    Erica: Oh, same here! Too often I let prayer slip down the list--but it prolongs my agony! It's best when it's #1. :)

    Loree: Yes. The outdoors is like a healing balm, isn't it? I just wish our weather was a little more walk-friendly right now!

    Cassandra: Good point. Getting out to get inspired helps me a lot too--and isn't that dog sweet??

    Jessica P: I'm the same! I just can't write out of sequence. :)

    Em: Yeah, I guess that's the point, getting good at rolling, right?

    Jen: Christian music really helps my mood too. Thanks for the reminder!

    Emily: Prayer smooths over the worst of it. Every time!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. I hate to admit it, but I shut down. I wish I didn't, but I do find that after a break, I come back with a fresh perspective and the writing picks up right where I left off.

  20. I pray and remind myself that if God gave me the desire to write, He will give me the strength to complete my work. But yes, chocolate really does help me along, too ;-)

    Lately, I've been trying to put myself on a schedule where I'm getting exercise daily. That seems to help. Also, I'm giving myself a writing goal each day via word count or chapter.

    I'm glad that you shared your writing ups and downs with us, Jill :-)

  21. #1 is my favorite, Jill (with #2 a close second).

    I had to laugh at your hard candy comment. It sorta reminded me of, "I keep some hard drugs on hand for when I'm really struggling", LOL. Whatever it takes, right? :)

  22. I just read my Bible and my scriptures I have written out and underlined and highlighted over and over. Soon I'm again "seated in the heavenly places."

  23. I write (and pursue other artistic/creative avenues) BECAUSE life gets rough. :)

  24. I whine to you! And then maybe have a glass of wine.

  25. Yes, those are great ways to get through the hard times. I think I've utilize a few - no, probably all - before. I especially have to give myself permission like you said. Permission to take a break, permission to read a book I've already read a million times to get some inspiration. Whatever it takes. Thanks for this post!

  26. Jill:
    This is a good list. For myself, I do several of the same ones. Instead of chocolate, I might do Chex Mix.
    I really need to find an accountability partner.

  27. Susan: Trust me, I do too sometimes. It's really hard to stay positive all the time. It helps that I'm busy!

    Brandi: So true! God gives us dreams not to squash them but to help us to fulfill them. And he gives us chocolate to make sure we do. :)

    Sarah: Ha!! It's true! My hard candy is hard hittin'--funny!

    Nancy: Love that! I have a little book of Bible passages next to my bed. It always helps. :)

    Angie: Good point. Writing helps me work through my fears, my problems--all of it. Great perspective.

    Jenna: We make a good team!!

    Cindy: Yes! And permission to be silly. I like dorky Cat Encyclopedias and word searches. I do those when I'm down!

    QuietSpirit: I love Chex Mix. It's so much less fattening than regular chips! Having someone to stay accountable to is a big help. I hope you find someone soon!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  28. Such an uplifting post, Jill! Quiet alone time, walks with my dog, playing guitar, talking "stuff" out with friends and cooking seem to do the trick for me. And there's nothing as medicinal as connecting with blogging friends while eating chocolate! ;)

  29. August: Oo, you play guitar? I'm impressed! I love to cook and bake. I agree--they're therapeutic!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  30. Jill, Sometimes writing is just the ticket to get out of the doldrums. And, sometimes it is not. :-) But I agree wholeheartedly that prayer always works!


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