Last week I posted very excitedly about my writing goals for 2017 and I was feeling very vibrant and energetic with the start of a new year, full of possibility. I was just brimming over with exuberance and ambition. Annoyingly so, I feel.
This week? Not so much.
Call it the post Christmas and New Year anti-climax. Maybe that’s what it is. A sort of slumping of the shoulders at the months of cold weather ahead. A general loss of enthusiasm, I guess.
Writing is a strange affliction, where you are constantly indulging your selfish dreams and passions, your desire to write, while at the same time, constantly battling self-doubt and reality checks. I know I am not alone when I ask myself on a regular basis, what the hell am I doing this for?
Well, the answer is still the same and always will be. I’m writing because I have to, because I’d go crazy if I didn’t, because I live in perpetual hope and aim to keep getting better.
That’s enough, believe me, it will always be enough. But when slumps like this hit, it can be hard to claw your way back up again. So I thought I would attempt to list the things I am feeling down about, and then try to counteract that with a list of things to feel hopeful about, possibly with the result of cheering myself up. We’ll see!
- Doing my tax return. Yep, it’s that time of year again where I am smacked right in the face with how little I earn at what I do. This then leads to building guilt and panic telling me that I need to stop it all now and get a real job fast!
- Lack of interest/support from loved ones. This is not uncommon, in fact pretty much every indie writer I know has experienced this. I even wrote an article about it for Author’s Publish which went down rather well. Like I said in that piece, it’s not always what you think it is, it works both ways, there are so many reasons why, blah blah blah, but just for a moment let’s acknowledge that it does actually hurt. Which leads to further self-doubt and guilt and telling yourself to just stop it.
- Lack of reviews. It’s nice to get sales but what authors really really want are more reviews. This is so we can find out what we are getting right and wrong! Even bad reviews are helpful as they add to the overall amount. With no new reviews, writers feel totally alone. It’s nice to get the odd pat on the back or helpful suggestion. New reviews pick you up when you feel close to quitting. They keep you going and make everything worthwhile.
- Never ending guilt. Yes, the guilt again. Guilt about not earning enough money, guilt about being almost constantly in another world of my own construction, guilt about wishing the kids bedtime would hurry up so I can get on the laptop and get writing. Ugh! So much guilt!
- Feeling like a fraud. Oh, this one is bad at the moment. It rears its head from time to time! I think it’s because I’m running an adult workshop in March and although I enjoy this and have done this before, this is the first time on my own, not with Dorset Writers Network, and every time I stand up and talk to other writers I feel like a massive fraud. I feel like I should say, Google me! Then decide if I’m worth listening to! Same goes with writing my books. Some days I feel like a writer. I am a writer. Other days, not so much.
- Face reality. I can’t realistically look for any other work that is not in some way self-employed or done from home as I have a two-year-old to care for. When he starts nursery in September, I will be looking at my options, and again when he starts school the year after that. So maybe I should stop worrying so much that I am not contributing. I’m raising him! And he’s awesome
- Some friends and family are with me all the way, so I need to appreciate and concentrate on these. Remind myself that no one shows a lack of interest deliberately to hurt me and that there are many, many reasons why this happens. Move on, head held high and remember to always, always, prove them wrong.
- Reviews are wonderful. They will brighten an entire week! They remind you that people are reading, digesting and reacting to what you have written, so yes, they are worth their weight in gold. I need to concentrate on making sure readers realise how important they are and I need to continue to approach book bloggers in order to secure more reviews.
- Well, the guilt will always be there. From when I was a child nick-named ‘cloth-ears’ to now when my husband accuses me of constantly thinking about characters and plots…It’s just who I am and I don’t think I would want to change anyway. I generally only write once the youngest is in bed, so it doesn’t steal too much time from the family. Maybe I should remind myself how artistic and creative all of my older children are. They’ve followed me in my love of books and reading, and if they’re not writing their own stories, they are making music and art.
- I think unless I truly ‘make it’ one day (whatever making it means!) I will always feel a bit like a fraud but I will try to remind myself that I have achieved a lot, and if I can offer words of advice or just talk about the mistakes I made in the beginning, with a writer at the start of their journey, then I am doing a good thing. I love running my writing group. The writers are unbelievably talented individuals, who also all happen to be bloody fun to be around. We talk a lot and laugh a lot. The same goes for the outstanding children who come to the kids workshops. As long as people keep turning up, then I guess I am doing something right!
Right, now I think I have talked myself out of that miserable little slump, how are you all doing post Christmas and New Year? It is a really weird time of year, to be honest. We’ve all eaten too much, drank too much, and watched too much telly. We’re struggling to get back to normal life, and January just feels so bleak at times. It’s cold and dark and Summer feels like it is never going to return. How do you cope with this time of year? What are the sort of things that get you down in the dumps, and how do you manage to cheer yourself up again? Please feel free to comment and share!
7 thoughts on “Getting Out of The Dumps”
I’ve been distracted and down in the dumps, too, so it’s good to know I’m not the only one – though obvoiusly, I’m not glad to hear about your struggles. Despite all the time off around Christmas I only managed a day or two of work. For me, real world things have been hard to ignore, too. At least you have some books out and on sale, even if they aren’t taking off as much as you’d like. They’re good books, they’ll get there. 🙂
Thank you, James! I appreciate your comment and your kind words. I always manage to talk myself out of feeling down, you have to really, don’t you? I hope you manage to get back into yours. I know what you mean about real world things being a distraction though!
Well to cheer you up I firstly think you are a fantastic writer with a work ethic that puts me to shame. Secondly, for the first time in about ten years we are experiencing a real winter here in Vancouver. For the last month we have had four dumps of snow followed each time with freezing arctic air which turned the roads and the pavements (I don’t get to use that word much over here, so I’ll say I again, pavements, there you go that’s put a smile on my face, it’s much better than sidewalk, North American’s are so bloody literal in their choice of words) into ice skating horrors.
I haven’t been overly busy of the Christmas period but I have managed to finish a rough first draft of the children’s book somebody asked me to novelize, the problem being that it’s not very long, only 13,100 or so words. The thing is the text I was working from, it being originally a picture book, was only just over 1,000 words and has only one major ‘incident’ in it. Where am I going to get another 40,000 words from? In total there are three related books he wants me to write so what I have suggested to him is that I put them all together in one book. What do you think?
My second Blackstone novel has been stuck at the 40,000 word mark for most of the month as I grappled with the children’s story. I like to think that it’s maturing in my mind and I’ll finish it next month.
Anyway, keep your chin up, if anyone of us is going to ‘make it’ it will be you.
Ah, lovely comments, thank you Ian! You have cheered me up immensely! Sorry to hear you’ve got so much snow, although I would love a few snowy days here, as it just never happens these days where we are! I think your suggestion of him putting them all in one book makes perfect sense. Good luck with it. Sounds like another good way to make an extra income as a writer?
I can so identify with this Chatelle. I was full of enthusiasm with a spring in my step after New Year but now writing gives me the butterflies, not in a good way and I struggle to focus. I feel a fraud for having my writing group, you’ve just joined because a lot of people are much more experienced than me. I like your positive ideas and love how you’ve written it all. I think I need to take some of these on board. Thank you,
Thanks for reading and commenting Debbie! I get butterflies too! At some point in the day I will think about what needs to be done that evening and get a nervous tummy. It is excitement too though, I think. Your group is full of energy and already has a very caring and protective atmosphere which I like!
Thanks very much Chantelle