An Honest Look at When Life Gets in the Way of Creativity

Thursday, June 16, 2016
This blog post is published a little later than I like when it is my WOW! blogging day, and I'm going to be honest why. I was constructing a post about "5 Tips for Writing Dialogue in Your Fiction" (or maybe even 6!), but I could not bring myself to get it finished. And I had just done a presentation on this, so it is fresh in my mind.

What's the problem?

Life is the problem. As I've discussed before on this blog, this past year, my husband and I have been going through a divorce, and this is the absolute hardest thing that has ever happened to me. If you are divorced, then at this time you are probably nodding your head. It has completely changed my writing and reading life, and I have been slowly trying to find my way back.

So as I was constructing this "helpful" post on dialogue last night and earlier today, I was thinking: maybe it would be better just to be honest with WOW! readers. When I am honest on Facebook about my life and feelings (without oversharing--of course--or being vague--which everyone hates), a lot of people respond. Why not try it on the Muffin?

How do we as creative people, as writers, get through emotional times? Some of you probably write and journal. Journal writing doesn't work for me. Yes, I write down what I am going through in messages, emails, and texts to my friends. This form of communication actually works quite well for me. It is much easier for me to have an instant message conversation with my best friends than sometimes to have an actual conversation. It's a form of writing, and I'm sure since I am a writer, this is why I find IM so helpful.

I also have plans to start a blog full of non-fiction, self-help, memoir-type posts, but finding the time and energy to do that has so far eluded me.

I am tired, fellow writers. I am full of anxiety and angst. I feel I have little direction. I thought I was out of "survival mode," and recently, tried to do some things to work toward a better future, but I'm not there. I am still in survival mode--just getting by day by day as best I can.

I can't think about finishing my middle-grade novel still. I can barely pick up a book to read. At night, I have all sorts of books on my nightstand calling out to me, and I feel like I don't even have the energy to invest in someone's wonderful story.

Don't get me wrong. I am functioning. Every day is not terrible. I have a beautiful, smart, funny 5-year-old daughter whom I love spending time with. I have amazing friends and parents. I love teaching my WOW! Women On Writing novel classes, and I LOVE helping my editing clients--so I am going to keep doing these things, while I also try with baby steps to get back to what my true passion is--writing and reading. I also like my full-time job, which has to do with proofreading, graphic design, and marketing. So yeah, the left side of my brain is doing all right. It's the right side that needs some time and TLC, I guess.

So I have no idea if anyone reading this who is also a writer, painter, illustrator, sculptor, musician, etc feels this way or has ever felt this way. But you are not alone. And if you've already been through a journey like mine and you are on the other side, I would love to hear about things that helped you.

Next time, I will try to get those 5 tips posted--I know some of you are on the edge of your seat, waiting for those.

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. Find out more in the WOW! classroom or on her website. 


Lori L. Robinett said...

It will get better. I promise. My best advice: breathe. be still. Allow yourself to feel emotions, to process them, and to let the good ones flow in while the good ones flow out. I've been through a divorce and it SUCKED. But when that door closed, another opened and I am so much happier in this life than I ever was in that one. (BTW - if you haven't investigated mindfulness, I have a blog post about breathing - and I shared some of my personal struggles on that blog.)

Annette said...

Oh, Margo. Been there. Still doing that. I've been in a creative funk since my marriage imploded four years ago. I haven't finished reading a single book in that span. I stopped blogging and tweeting because I've felt like I have nothing of value to say. And I haven't written anything. But I play a lot of beach volleyball. That makes me happy. Creatively, I'm empty. At some point, I hope to find my way back.

Amie said...

Sometimes the universe gives us what we need rather than what we want. Maybe this post was meant to be written as therapy for you and help for others. Or maybe right now you don't need to be doing those other things because self care is more important than anything right now. Listen to your soul. I agree with the comment above, just Be. Luckily you will never go through this again, but what you are experiencing right now is also part of your journey and only later do we find out why.

Cinda said...

Sending you huge hugs and prayers. I've always had so much admiration for you and all that you have accomplished, now even more for being so brave through your struggles. I can only relate a little from going through the teen years with my daughter. Not the same, I know, but it did bring my creativity to a halt for a long time. Thankfully, we are in a great place now, and I notice I've started writing and painting more. Peace and happiness is waiting for you, take care in the meantime.

Robyn Chausse said...

I hear you too! It's one thing to find ways to work through periods of stress, quite another when your very soul is exhausted. I, too, am going through a bad time. As a result, all my projects have stopped--no creative interest at all. The good news is that that spark will come back, it is part of who we are. All I can suggest is to nourish your soul in whatever way works best for you(a cup of tea, a walk through a garden, inspirational movies)and maybe find a creative outlet other than writing. Sometimes finding alternative creative pursuits can help get us moving again. Even something as simple as stringing beads can take your mind to a better place.

Barbara Barth said...

Margo, I needed to read this today. While my situation is different - health issues - hip replacement surgery that went badly and kept me away from home for seven weeks - it was a huge emotional setback. My concentration is off. I am happy just to be home with my dogs and my things that make home a home. I can't focus to write and ask myself the question "Am I really a writer?" I am sure my energy will come back and I will figure out what to write or do or be next in life. Sometimes we just need to let go and relax. Getting through a divorce, death, health issue drains your spirit. I think the spirit heals with time and you will be stronger for it. At least, I am counting on this for me. Enjoy the things you love and don't stress you need to push so hard. That is the advice I give myself. Thank you for writing this post and sharing your thoughts.

Sheila Good said...

There isn't much I can add to all the others. And, I know first hand, platitudes are all most of us know to say. There is a season for everything, and right now you and your precious child must come before writing or anything else. Time is a healer, but that's just it - it takes time. Trust your instincts, play with your child and rest your soul. Here's sending you a prayer of strength and blessings for the future. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

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