04-20-19 – In Praise of a “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely and Robin Weaver

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to Keep Going in Tough Times: Give Yourself A Break #amwriting

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of SciFi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions.
I can't claim to be an advocate of writing through tough times. I didn't write anything much for almost a decade after my mum's death when I was nineteen, despite it having been my everyday escape and my way of processing real life until then.
Real life did get in the way after that: having to get a job to support myself as my dad had done a bunk to Australia before my mum died, finding somewhere to live, falling in love and getting married. It was only when my third child gained his feet and was old enough to keep up with his older siblings a bit that I found time to rediscover my passion (and boy, did I have a lot of catching up to do!).
But after five years of writing, editing, publishing and promoting, I found myself falling out of love with it all. I was burned out, the creative well drained, the enthusiasm gone. At first I panicked at my loss of writing libido, which only made it worse. 2017 came with a couple of health scares for myself and hubs, a shocker announcement from my eldest, and having to go back to a day job because my books weren't paying me a living wage. I was ready to throw in the towel, pull down my books, and forget about being an author.
I can't put my change of mind down to a single thing. I think the real life shake up hit me hard, but also forced me to take several steps back and reassess it all. Things calmed down, were resolved, and turned out to be far less serious. I'm actually enjoying my job (and I won't deny the regular pay packet has eased off the monetary worries). But I think it also showed me that what I really needed was a break. Time. A mental adjustment. I was tearing myself to pieces with the publishing and promotion, only to be disappointed by my book sales and ending up making a loss. I wanted to fall in love with writing again, and while I'm not 100% yet, I feel I'm getting there.
Pushing and writing through the bad times might well be the perfect solution for some (and kudos to them for it!), but I think there is also a need to step away from it as well. Writing can help with the bad things, but taking a break and focussing on your own care and mental wellbeing can be the right thing too. You have to find what works best for you.
So on the positive side, I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me when I want to write but need some inspiration.
1. Go for a walk. Even if it doesn't clear your mind, it's good exercise, gets you some fresh air, and let's face it writing is a pretty sedentary profession so it's good to get out and moving.
2. Listen to some music. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm addicted to my mp3 player and plug into it every moment I can. Probably not good for my hearing and definitely not good for editing, but almost essential when I write.
3. Sound effects. Just lately I've used YouTube for some background noises to set the scene. I was struggling with edits on an underwater scene, and a ten hour video of sounds of the reef definitely helped!
4. Cover art. When looking for inspiration, searching through premade cover art has sparked a couple of shorts (and given me incentive to finish so I can buy them). I know some authors love Pinterest  for this reason but I find it too much of a rabbit hole. I want inspiration, not total distraction!
My latest release, inspired by the cover image.
5. Watch your favourite TV series/films. Even if these don't inspire you, I find them comforting when I'm feeling low. After all, the creators probably had their struggles too!
But most of all, be kind to yourself. Self care should come first in times of trial, otherwise you can't be there for others...and that includes your characters.


Judith Ashley said...

So glad you've made it to 2018! Love the cover of "Unexpected" And I totally, 100% agree with your last paragraph - be kind to yourself. Self-care should come first...my daily mantra is to gift myself with taking care of me.

Robin Kramme said...

What a great post. It is all so individual, isn't it? I find I have cycles. Sometimes I am all in for writing and can hunker down and speed type my way through a scene or an entire short play. Other times I feel like I am in idea collection/creative concocting mode and still others I am percolating and revising in my head the concepts I will later write. And, naturally, there is also edit and polish mode. I try not to rush things. I try not to make myself crazy - plenty of others in my life who do that for me!!

Diana McCollum said...

Pippa, great advice for getting through the tough times! so glad you are still writing so I can enjoy your stories!

I'm one who can't write when things are out of control in my 'real' life. I have no concentration for focusing on the work in progress. Great post!