The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block
There are two words I won’t say out loud together.
Heck, I hate even writing them! I’ll say WB over the real words any day.
But I’m gonna come out and raise a white flag. Yes. I had the condition and I’m not afraid to admit it. And I’m here to tell of my tale.
From July of 2016 until two days ago, I fought for words. There were days when a few/dozen/two dozen was good enough. Some of my writing friends would point out that I still completed manuscripts, and yes, I did start and finish two novels and three short stories since then, but I did it in a fugue that I’d never experienced.
Since August of 2013, I’d been on a writing frenzy. Words clamoring to get out of me. I’d liken the writing deluge of words to beginner’s luck if I believed in that, but still, the words came and the words stayed for tea and cookies…and tequila. Lots of tequila over the years.
But then three years almost to the date of when I started really writing fiction and romance, I crashed. There were days I stared at the screen for hours. My mind became a white board of desolation. And there was no marker to even scribble a hangman or sunshine to be found. Anywhere.
I thought maybe it was Seasonal Affective Disorder taking me over a little early. Sneaky thing seasonal depression is, hitting a person in a different way every year. Sometimes I go down in January when the holiday’s high is over. Sometimes at the holidays I find myself tumbling when I’m overwhelmed or emotional watching my kids open presents. They’re 22 and 20, so really it’s them opening their banking apps and seeing I transferred money, but there are stockings.
And there have been a few years where I just become a pile of human goo for three months out of the year—November, December, January. Thankfully those really bad years been few and far in between, but they have happened.
But I didn’t know what I know now.
Not only was I experiencing my regular depression, but I was fatigued, exhausted, collapsing mentally because I didn’t give myself breaks. Three years of writing almost every day. YES, every, damned, day. If I didn’t, I imagined I was behind. I fought to “catch up” and I am here to tell you…there is NO catching up. There is only moving forward, taking each day as it comes, and rolling with the muses fucking punches.
I traveled to Canada for a retreat that my publisher, Evernight Publishing, held for their authors. The event was fantastic. I met some of the nicest people on the earth, including Kacey Hammell of Naughty-Quills. Lovely woman. But I returned to Omaha, Nebraska more out of sorts and more overwhelmed than before. I dragged myself out of bed each day because I had other commitments. I’d planned a 25 author signing event. I had to do the right thing cause I don’t quit—obviously.
I was elected Prez of my local romance writer’s chapter. I slid farther down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and anxiety. Full on distress.
Wasn’t easy to keep up the appearance of having my shit together, but I did it.
I thought maybe I needed more sunlight. So I got a sunlamp and basically stayed up for two days in a row after using it. Apparently, I was too sensitive. My doctor said, “Stop using it, you have a real chance of having a psychotic episode”. That didn’t sound like fun. So I put it away.
Then came the holidays and I kept busy with shopping and events, but I’d open my computer and… nothing. So few synapses in my brain putting out good thoughts or hell even any thoughts. I would have taken bad, too.
I took the last half of December off and went to Denver, Colorado for New Year’s. My hubby and our friend did their best to keep me going and getting out with the peoples of the world, but I was über miserable.
But I had commitments, so I kept up. I showed up. I made up. I faced up. I tied up. Put up. Shut up. And fixed up. What I could.
My mentor, Corrissa James, did what she could to encourage me and help me through the rough days, and I thank her and the other writing friends who stuck it out with me and encouraged me. And then there are others who will probably read this and say—WTF? I never would have guessed in a million years.
And that’s one of my points. We can never know what’s going on inside another person. Don’t guess. Don’t assume. And please, for the love of god, don’t judge.
February came around. The month of love. One of my favorite times of the year. I experienced a little improvement early in the month and I put a few words to the page. More than January, but less than December because I pushed myself to just get shit done in December, but that backfired, too. In January, my holiday short stories received a couple bad reviews. I only know the number (1’s and 2’s ain’t good, my friends) but not the words of the review cause I don’t read them, but it’s enough to know my readers weren’t happy. And I wasn’t happy.
And then the plague came on last week. Nothing like the f’ing upper respiratory flu to knock you down until you think death would be the sweeter passageway. I fought through and by the weekend I was doing better. And I actually had some hope. My muse was calling out and strutting…
And this week, that vixen demanded I write a new story in the same series as a story accepted by my publisher for their newest male/male alpha anthology. Shifter wolves with special abilities.
So I wrote. And over the last thirty-six hours, 9100+ words have poured from me. This isn’t a record for me, and certainly many authors consider that a light day, but it’s a good thing for me. A good omen. She’s baaaaack! I have some of my spring back. My brain cloud is lifted and I’m ready to face writing again without wondering what the day will bring.
So, if you’re in you’re struggling out there, a little of the old WB got you down. Keep the hope. Muses are fickle beings. And then again, sometimes you need to realize when you need a break and take breaks. And don’t push yourself. Be good to you, and that muse will be good to you, too.
**And note: I know I’ve made this semi-amusing but depression is nothing to laugh about. I know this cause I live and have lived it. So, if you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, or hurting yourself or others, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US.
To celebrate my return to good writing days, here’s an excerpt (unedited) from what’s spilled from my muse in the last two days.
Mooncrest: Saving Honor
Her eyes widened. “No. I … you … we … not possible.” She inhaled small gasping breaths. “We’re … friends.”
He searched her pooling gray eyes to see if on any level she instinctually comprehended the truth, but she’d lost the ability to feel and trust. Only confusion and fear hazed her dilated pupils.
It was time to lay his feelings on the line, and even if she still rejected him, he’d keep trying. She was his. There was no turning back.
“Honor Creed, I’ve loved you for five long years, watching while another man put his hands on you, feeling in my soul your unhappiness, but there was nothing I could do about our torture … until now. Now, you’re free from him. I don’t want to stop being your friend. I want to be more to you. Mother Wolf told me when I was eighteen you were going to be the greatest love I’d ever know. You’ve been hurt. You need time. I understand. But—you and me—it’s gonna happen.”
Love, Jules AND Happy HUMP day, peeeeeeples!
All Gifs from Giphy.com.