March 2006 Winter Doldrums

Okay, so it’s near the end of March, and technically, this isn’t exactly a March newsletter, but it’s close enough.

FIGHTING THE WINTER WOES

Hemingway had it, Picasso…name a great artist and chances are, you’ll find a link to depression, or at least to artist frustration. ALL of us have days when we’re up, days when we’re done. For writers, rejection letters can be ego killers. Months without a sale (years even!) can cripple our belief, cause us to put down the pen, and give up.

Add in winter and those dreary, cold days (my calendar says it’s spring but I woke up to snow today – ugh!) and you’ve got a potential recipe for writer woes. For some people, it goes beyond that, and medication may be a way to get past those dark days (always talk with your doctor).

If you’re battle winter writer woes or just writer woes in general, I wanted to give you a few tips that work for me. Trust me, even once you’re published, not every day is a good day. There are still rejections, reviewers who slay you, editors who are closer to Simon Cowell than Randy Jackson (or even better, Paula Abdul. Just once, I’d like a Paula editor ). I have found that these techniques work for me and I hope that if you’re in the same boat, they’ll do the same:

CHANGE YOUR PACE: A lot of winter doldrums is about staying in the same place. Writers tend to be solitary creatures, holed up with a computer (the pale one in the group must be the writer; never sees sunshine ). Days can go by when the only time I venture outside is to get the mail. That’s not good, not for me or for my Vitamin D levels. So, I change my pace. I go to a coffee shop and write. On good days, I go to a park and let the kids play while I write. I still have that deadline, still have work to do, but I can move the work to a new place and indulge in a really good latte. It may seem such a simple and silly thing to do, but a change of pace can make a HUGE difference. I have found a coffee shop in my town that is frequented by other writers, which means I’ll sometimes run into a friend there. That’s another nice bonus.
GET TOGETHER WITH OTHERS: And not just writers. For a long time, my only friends were other writers. It was a hazard of the job. I was working so much that the only time I went out was to attend a writer event. Thus, every conversation I had was about writing. I couldn’t escape it. I have made a conscious effort to include more outings with non-writer friends since then. However, I think getting together with other writers on a regular basis, too, is another big boost for writer woes. You can commiserate over some cookies, find inspiration and in general, get charged back up again.
INVEST IN YOUR LIGHTING: If your office is in some dark, dingy corner, be sure to add great lighting. I got a sunlamp at Sam’s Club that has made a huge difference in my morning energy level. I try to keep my work area bright and clear (at last the parts within my line of vision, LOL) and non-distracting.
ADD MOTIVATION: Hang up motivational sayings, cartoons, drawings, mementoes, etc. These are a nice help when you’re sitting in your office, thinking you don’t have another word in you (or any good words today). Look around at those quotes and let them inspire you.
GET YOURSELF SOME FUN EXTRAS: I bought a leather-bound journal today, just for kicks. It’ll be nice to take with me instead of the cheap-o notebook I usually carry. Between pens and paper, I usually have at least one “indulgence” for the month, nothing too expensive, just something that I like and will use. Having a great pen or nice paper to write ideas on can make your job seem more special.
I don’t want to trivialize real depression, because I know how many writers suffer from it. If you suffer from depression, do be sure to see your doctor to see if medication is warranted (or even needed; some people do just great with herbal or homeopathic methods…but that’s your call, not mine). But if it’s just a case of the winter blues or if you have depression that you are treating and wanted some extra boosts for your energy and to help you get through the weeks until the flowers bloom again, then try the above!

May all your words be great ones,

Shirley

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