Writer Blues

I consider this blog to be one of my safe places so I feel no qualms about sharing with y’all that I’m currently in scary space. You see, it’s past time for me to begin my next novel and while my muse has been gently and consistently prompting me to tell her story, I have yet to write a single line. Wait, I take that back. A few months ago I wrote a scene from the many glimpses I’ve had into my protagonist’s life. It’s a highly emotional scene and I’m pretty sure it’s just one of many more. That’s precisely the problem.

Let me explain myself a little better. I’m an immersion writer. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an immersion writer is one who gives their entire life over to their current project. They don’t just want to research being a minor league football player, they find a way to become a minor league football player. Then they write from that experience. A notable immersion writer is John Howard Griffin of Black Like Me. Immersion writing typically applies to journalists or non-fiction writers, but I’m choosing to use the term in relation to myself because I emotionally immerse myself into the lives of the fictional characters I’m creating.

tears

This is where my resistance to starting my next book comes in. I’m at a point in my life where I’m genuinely happy and content. It’s been a long time coming and I had to fight my fair share of battles to get here. I don’t want to immerse myself in the emotional landmine that I’m sure this book is meant to be. I don’t want my muse to tell me of her secrets. I don’t want to unveil the experience of her neglect and misuse. I don’t want to know what she’s been through. I don’t want to feel the sorrow of it all. I’ve admitted before that I was once afraid to sit in the stillness of my own sorrow, so I for sure don’t want to sit in fullness of her’s.

Yet, because I finally worked up the courage to sit in my own sorrow, I know that doing so is the only way to help her make it through to the joy that I fully believe is waiting for her on the other side. The same way it waited for me. The same way it will be waiting for the readers of this next book who need to know that it’s possible to come out of a place of hard-earned despondency into unmerited grace. So I’ll sit with her in sorrow, but only because I plan to journey with her to victory.

Does the project you’re working on affect your mood? Have any advice about how to emotionally distance myself from the occurrences of my work-in-progress, without losing the sensitivity that my writing style requires? Anyone ever wanted to write one thing, but feel pressed to write something entirely different? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice!

 

Photo credit: _Hadock_ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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16 thoughts on “Writer Blues

  1. I totally am the same way, Faith! I didn’t know the term immersion writer but that is me through and through. I have started book 2 in my POTL series but I keep banging into a wall. Why? Because I know I will have to immerse myself into the depths of darkness and I’m all happy. 🙂 I had a long talk with my muse and we agreed to try something new. So I am working on a collection of short stories. Maybe you need to do the same. Go with your heart. Write something different, poetry maybe. When you are ready, you will dive into your heroine, sorrow and all. Just my two cents. 🙂

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    • It’s good to know I’m not alone! I had a feeling I couldn’t be the only one that struggles with separating my emotions from my writing. It must be a common problem when you write from the heart. Going in another direction is a good option, and I’m sure your reprieve with short stories will help in the long run. I’ve decided to ease my way in by working on the plot outline and character sketches, then I’ll see what happens. Thanks for the advice Mrs. N! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s part of my problem Joey, I have to recognize when a break is in order and learn to step away. My issue is that sometimes the melancholy lingers if I’m working on a darker portion of the story. I hate to be the stereotypical moody writer! I’m going to try to think of separation rituals. Like maybe taking 15-30 minutes after I’m done writing for the day to focus on doing things that make me happy so that I can shake off the emotional fog before going on about MY life, if that makes sense.

      And I’m right there with you in that the emotional writing comes easy and I do love that aspect!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve experienced several different things: I don’t write because I’m procrastinating, but I’m procrastinating because I either don’t feel like turning it on that day, or because deep down, I fear that what I’m writing sucks. Eventually, the drill sergeant in my head wakes up and I write despite all that mess. Or, sometimes the story will spill over and I have no choice. So I think it depends. But you will know when it’s time because trust me: you won’t be able to run. I think it’s also okay to feel however you’re going to feel when you’re writing–happy or sad. And if you aren’t able to shut the emotions off after your writing session, then that might just be your way. Trust your process. Good luck.

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    • “Trust your process.” You can say that again. You just got down to the root of my issue. I don’t trust my process right now. I’m still new to the game and I’m still developing my writing habits and processes. So I guess I need to go with the flow and trust that I won’t end up being an emotional hot mess ALL the time while I’m working on this next project. And maybe if I am an emotional hot mess, that’s okay. Thanks for the ‘a-ha’ moment Quanie!

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  3. I can’t top your other commenters as far as strategies for writing dark personal stories. I write dark *fantasy* and though my human characters suffer bigtime, it’s definitely not the same thing! But I will say if there is ever a story that you feel you need to write for the benefit of even one other person, that is justification above and beyond writing for yourself. It takes guts to invoke sorrows and pain you’ve worked so hard to overcome, but if the story needs to be sung, and only you can sing it, belt it out.

    By the way, saying I’m an immersive writer is kind of funny considering my genre (really, I don’t see monsters around every corner!) but “getting into character” is something I do take seriously. I liked something you said in an interview you linked to recently, about spending that time at night when you’re about to fall to sleep going through a scene you’re about to (or trying to) write. I do that ALL the time! Until I get things to line up right, I’m pretty much not gonna sleep anyway! And if I get it figured out, man that is usually the best sleep I’ve had in days.

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    • Faith,
      I am so proud of you. When I saw the video of your sister reading your book dedication, I was just as overwhelmed. That was priceless. Continue to write as God leads you and uplift others through your writings.
      Be blessed,
      Cassie

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    • Sunshine, there are so many good nuggets in your advice. “But if the story needs to be sung, and only you can sing it, belt it out.” I love this! And the part about it helping one other reader is something I know is important. Books have helped me through some rough patches in my life, so I know first hand how effective they can be. It’s good to remind myself that someone needs to know this story.

      I’ve been watching old re-runs of ‘Friends’ on Netflix before I fall asleep in an attempt to avoid my thoughts being taken over by scenes from this new book, but I’ll bite the bullet eventually. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who does that! Sometimes I wonder if I’ve crossed the line from being creative to downright loony. That’s why I love fellow writers. It’s hard for non-writers to understand this crazy process!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely post, Faith. I’m glad you shared.
    I have been there.
    I had written most of the manuscript for my book, A Good Home and had reached a place – not of happiness or contentment, but a place where I felt safe. Then my editor pushed me to write about my experience in my present home, where I had moved just two weeks after the car accident that changed my life. I hated it, I resisted it. But in the end, it made for a much better book.

    My best to you.

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  5. Interesting post! The only thing I can say: I had to stop letting myself fall in love with my male characters because doing so made me disappointed with my own husband. The men I write…well…they do what I make them do – not gonna happen with my spouse. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

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