I’ve had a bad month… a really bad month. It started with my grandma dying and while nothing else that extreme has happened, a lot of bad and financially costly things have. And it’s not just me, my family is having a hard time of it, too. Trying to work out stuff with grandma’s will, and clean out storage sheds, grandpa having a stroke, and dying pets, it’s all just generally crappy and my brother and I are seriously wondering if we’re cursed. (I’m a logical person, I’m a lawyer so it’s kind of built into my brain, but there comes a point where the imagination starts trying to explain things so they make more sense than merely shit happens… which actually may be an extension of the logical side because it’s looking for reason in chaos.)
I can honestly say, I have not had this hard a time with life since my first year of law school.
Now, what do you do when bad stuff just keeps happening? Or one big bad thing happens that you just haven’t dealt with very well, like the death of a family member?
We’re writers, we write. I’ve been talking to my writer friends and the best piece of advice they’ve given me isn’t write about what happened, which I still may do, it’s write something new. Not just a new book or story, but a completely new concept that isn’t in any of my series.
Wait, what?!?! But, but, but… I have three series and they all need work and editing and to be flushed out and the next book, and-
Nope, write something new.
When something bad happens, a lot a girls will do something cosmetic. When I was in my first year of law school, I had princess hair. It was long and wavy and down to my butt. I got my heart broken for the first time and it was extremely difficult for me to process that along with the normal stresses of law school and living on my own. It took months, but when I was ready to start moving on, I cut off my hair. (Not myself like a dramatic teenaged girl in a TV show on the CW). I went to a nice salon and had them cut my hair to my chin. It was about 15 inches gone.
It didn’t magically make me feel better. The only thing that heals a broken heart truly is time. But it was a step. And it really needed to be done anyway because I looked like a 12 year old with that mass of wavy, dead ends frizzing hair. 🙂
After 9/11, do you know what a huge percent of women did en mass that week?
They bought new lipstick.
We try to control ourselves and surroundings when we’ve suffered a trauma or shock. For some that means they clean, others change something about their appearance, some people have more harmful ways of dealing with it like drinking.
Writers deal with our shit by writing.
So that’s what I’m going to do (I’m also going to cut my hair but that’s more because it’s getting straggly and unprofessional and I’ve been meaning to get it cut for awhile now). I have no clue what I’m going to write or what it will be about. I may jump out of my usual urban fantasy genre and try a space opera or a mystery. I’ve done similar things in the past, but usually with fantastic elements because that’s my wheelhouse. I may stay in my wheelhouse and just come up with something new… cuz I must. I may do a completely different setup in one of the realities I’ve already created.
The point is to get something fresh, to get those creative juices flowing, to bring yourself back to what you love without the baggage of any character or plot building you’ve done in the past.
One of my friends is a published author who does sci fi and was one of the ones telling me to do something new. (Hi Peter Grant!). He got stuck in a book and just dropped it for a few months and wrote something completely new. No prior plotting or planning, just wrote. He finished the book in a month, went back and edited it, got it published and it’s doing well. It was in the same reality as one of his series, but completely different characters and concepts.
So, I’m going to try something new. And I recommend you do, too. If you’re feeling down, if you’re stuck, if you’ve had just a crappy month, remember, there are still good things in your life (I don’t know you, but trust me, there’s always something good) and one of those things is writing. You know the song, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your yearrrrrr. Well, there’s always people and things that will be there for you. You’re not alone. Even reading other people’s blogs and chatting with my online writer peeps has made me feel better just because I know I’m not alone in this thing called life. I’m hoping this makes you (yes, you reader :), feel better, too.