Pushing Through Those Gray Days

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

As a child whenever the sky turned gray and it rained, I'd sing the song, "Rain, rain go away, come again another day." I always hoped that my voice was enchanting enough to stop the rain so that my day wouldn't be gray and gloomy, but sadly my voice never held any fairy-like power. 

As an adult, those gray days come not solely because of dark clouds hovering overhead or a tsunami like downpour outside of my window. They come because of worrying that's disrupted my sleep and caused my morning sluggishness. They come when I turn on the news as I brush my teeth in the morning and hear something so disheartening...again. They come in multiple hues of gray to scent the start or non-start of my day for a myriad of reasons too long to list.

On those gray days, no amount of singing childhood or adult songs, nor the beeping of my alarm clock, or knowing I have an impending deadline for an article, can make the prospect of sitting at my computer and writing seem worthy of my time. I'd much rather stay curled up in bed. Sometimes with the covers pulled over my head. 

It's a struggle to 'write" and shine then. Still, like most writers, I grumble and frown but gradually push through remembering that gray clouds eventually make way for sunshine. I also implement the following tips that you too may find helpful to ward off the effects of a gray day.

Don't slack on the basics. Get the proper amount of sleep at night, eat healthier, get regular exercise, and make sure to incorporate joyous activities into your life. When you feel at your optimum, physically and emotionally, you write at your optimum. 

Use a timer. I recently read an article about writing in which the author suggested using a timer to set a writing goal. By scheduling an interval of time for writing, be it fifteen minutes or thirty minutes, you're more apt to block out that time to produce a body of work especially if you give yourself a small treat afterwards, once the timer goes off.   

Get in the zone! Whenever I've watched Serena Williams, a twenty-three times grand slam champion, playing in a competition, I could tell when she was in the zone. She was focused, allowing no distractions to frazzle her or turn her mind away from her goal. It was Game On! As writers, we too need to get in the zone during our gray days and hype ourselves up when we feel too low spirited to write. Sometimes we have to fake it until we can write it, urging ourselves on. When those gray clouds loom overhead we need to get in our best writer's stance and say, "Game On!"  

Phone a friend. Phone a close friend who will encourage you to shake off those blues and get back on your horse and "write" into the sunset. Good friends offer us nuggets of truth even when we might not want to hear it. We all need friends like that, who can shift our way of thinking from being pessimistic to optimistic.

Give yourself permission to take a mental health break. A lot has been going on. Maybe it has affected you more than you want to admit, I know it has for me. Take some time to reflect, make changes in your life and create change in the world in whatever way you can if that is what is burdening you the most. Take care of you and remove as many stressors from your life that you can. Offer yourself what you so often offer lovingly to others. Those stories you need to tell will be waiting for you, patiently waiting to pick up wherever you left off. And you will have gathered the strength to make them even better.

                                                                                        ... Jeanine

Jeanine DeHoney's writing has been published in several magazines, anthologies, and online blogs. Her stories are 'full" of the voices of the women who loved and nurtured her.  



Cathy C. Hall said...

But you know what, Jeanine? Sometimes singing is exactly what I need--maybe not rain, rain go away but I have a couple of go-to songs that lift my spirits. Thanks for the encouragement and tips!

Margo Dill said...

The timer thing really does work. I use that and I often tell my WOW! students who are having trouble making progress to use it too. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Timers definitely help. But, like you said, so does taking a break and tending to your mental health.

I'm writing up another technique for my post tomorrow. Gray Days Part 2!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

You're welcome Cathy. I'm glad you have some go-to songs to inspire you. And I bet you have a beautiful voice too.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes Margo, the timer does seem like a great idea to help you write when you're stuck or are feeling unmotivated.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes Sue, I can't wait to read, "Gray Days Part 2!"

Nicole Pyles said...

Ugh, the gray days. I usually weather the storm the best I can. Pray. Talk to my mom. Lament. Following that, I also try to do the best I can in terms of my writing. If I can only do a session of freewriting, I'll do that. If it's all I can to submit to a few lit mags, okay. And sometimes, like you said, just giving myself a break and being kind to me is all I can manage!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Nicole,let us all count the ways to get through those gray days. All of yours deserve a thumbs up and talking to your mom would surely also be at the top of my list. Mom's always have the perfect words to cheer you on.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Jeanine ~ Excellent tips for those gray writing days! I'm actually a fan of the color gray, and it's a zone I happily live in...the in-between. My cat is a tuxedo with black and white fur, but somehow, she only sheds gray hair. Some things will remain a mystery. :)

My husband's good friend was Serena's personal chef for YEARS and made all her meals, which were ultra healthy of course! She's amazing to watch, and yes, so focused. When you're in the zone as a writer, it's the best place to be! I also use a timer and usually set if for 15 minutes. Then if I feel like writing over the time, I go for it.

I'm very hopeful that all the changes in the world right now will be the start of a positive evolution. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. Good will come of this! Thanks again for your tips that also fit with our theme of self-care month! :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--What is it about your posts? I'm trying to figure it out. It's as if there is gentleness woven in-between your lines. When it's your turn to post, I feel comforted (and inspired).

My favorite line in this post was this: "Offer yourself what you so often offer lovingly to others." I love it. I don't need the encouragement, however. I give myself way too much slack, too much latitude, and I allow myself too many excuses.

But, I will try the timer trick. I've heard it recommended too many times to not do so.

Jeanine, your name suits you. Your words are like honey--so sweet dripping with kindness.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you Angela. I'm glad you can live happily in the color gray and see the rainbows in it instead of the dark clouds. And your cat is probably so adorable. Wow! Just wow about your husband's friend being a personal chef to Serena for years! She's my best friend in my head, and yes so amazing. I too hope for a positive evolution in the world, so like you I will continue to have faith it will happen.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you so very much Sioux. Your words genuinely touched my heart. My mother was gentle and encouraging and everyone says I am her reincarnated. Yes, try the timer trick. Ps. It is easy to write words dripping with honey for the women of WOW, You all are inspiring to me, in the lessons you share and the inspiration you give. It's such a pleasure being a part of this WOW movement.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for your kind works but I hope you realize how much we love having you here with us.

Renee Roberson said...


I've had my share of gray days. When I was younger, they would result in a series of fiery free verse poems, which I still have to this day. They are interesting to read now, to say the least. Now, I have to admit I have a hard time writing through the gray. If I have deadlines, I struggle to get through them, but otherwise, I find taking care of myself with time on the couch with an old favorite tv show, movie or book and a hot beverage do wonders for the soul. Those times help me recharge and get back to writing more than anything!

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