I've been discouraged lately. With writing, creating, blogging. That jealousy monster is creeping in again and I don't like it. Not only does it rob me of my own happiness, but it also kicks me down and keeps me from creating.
Anyone else deal with this?
I'm trying to come up with ways to combat this. Besides stuffing my face with cake, that is. (Though, that is an excellent temporary fix.) I've got a few in my back pocket that I always go to, that I'll share in a minute. But what honestly is the hardest for me is actually doing them. I can let discouragement rule. Start to mope. Drown myself in self pity. But when I actually apply my list of "Discouragement Fighters," I come out a different person. Stronger. Ready. Excited.
So, here's my list. I'd love to know what yours are!
1. MUSIC -- my first go-to to shed discouragement is always music. Putting on a playlist or album that takes my mind away from the noise helps me refocus. Currently, I'm loving Sarah Bareilles' "Waitress" album. Odd? Maybe. But Bareilles wrote all the music and lyrics to this musical about a woman rediscovering herself. As I listen to the songs, I almost feel as if I am this woman she sings of. Soon, I'm more excited about creative possibilities than swimming in my own discouragement.
2. DRINK -- stepping away from my laptop to make a cup of coffee or tea is one of my favorite things to do. There is something entirely comforting about filling the kettle / coffee maker; waiting for the waiter to boil / the coffee to drip; taking that first, delicious sip. I find if I can step away and take part in a small tea/coffee ritual, I become lost in the comfort of creating and shed the discouragement I was feeling minutes before.
3. READ -- I think when discouragement hits, it's mostly due to others' success. At least, for me it is. (Which sounds so selfish. But, I am human.) And it instantly makes me doubt my skills. If I take a step back and reread some of my pieces, I find myself reminded that I am talented. That I am a writer. That I am worthy of this craft. I get lost in my characters, in my prose and am excited to return to whatever project I was working on instead of dwelling in discouragement.
Share some of your discouragement fighters below!
photo credit: Heidi Ryder Photography
This is the longest I've ever gone without writing. Six months. Six entire months without putting pen to page, creating a new story, or editing an old one. I didn't journal. I didn't doodle. All I did was let my mind wander.
Sometimes, that's necessary. Sometimes, when I'm deep in a project, I can be so focused on an edit or a sentence or a period that I forget the creativity part of it all. That what drew me in to writing the story in the first place was imagining. Dreaming. Wandering. Observing.
I think one of my favorite things to do as a writer is observe. I am a nosey, eavesdropping observer in cafes, on street corners, in grocery stores, etc.. Wherever I am, I let my ears and eyes observe. (Don't judge. I bet you do this too.) It might be two people arguing in a tiny chic restaurant. It might be a family resembling a circus at a cafe. It might be nothing but the growing line of a Starbucks.
And while most of it is mundane, it feeds my soul. It reminds me that I create. That I create out of nothing. That I can take the mundane, the mediocre, the modest, and give it life.
Because that's really what storytelling is, isn't it? Taking the everyday and breathing new life into it? Most of the time, to me, that means a bit of magic. I can't help but want something fantastical to happen in every one of my mundane scenes of life.
So durning this break of mine, this six month break, I observed. I let my mind wander.
And now? I *think* I know who I want to write about. She's come to me a few times during this break. A sense of a girl. A strong girl who's not ready to let her insecurities break her. I've had no clue to anything else of her story. But, that's where now comes in.
Now is the time to create. To say goodbye to the slump and hello to the magic. Now is the time to meet my character and discover her story.
I feel as if every blogger out there does one of these types of posts every so often. So, who am I to mess with the norm? I know, I know, be my own person. Blah, blah, blah. But I truly love reading other's "Life, lately" posts and wondered, maybe, just maybe, someone out there would be interested in mine.
If not, cool beans. I'm gonna write one anyway.
Especially since I've been away for so long. Here's how I'll do it. Put life into subjects. As in, doing lately; reading lately; eating lately; writing lately; etc. Yeah? Yeah. Here goes.
Doing lately: Moving things around the house with the Husband. Turning my office into a joint office space, since he's now working from home on occasion. And turning our upstairs space into an actual guest room. Love having a room ready for an impromptu sleepover!
Visited Harry Potter land with Mom and Dad; Magical Castle with good friends; Vegas with the Husband and parents; hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve; and put together several puzzles during football season. So. Fun.
Reading lately: Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist. Guys. I'm reading this book with my Dad, and it gives me all the feels.
I'm also reading one of author James Aries' manuscripts. He's an awesome writer and friend of mine and I adore his stories. The one I'm reading now is the sequel to Verve Stones (The Legend of Spoon). Guys. It's AMAZING.
Eating lately: If you're in the LA area, there are a handful of deeeelicious restaurants that the Husband and I have been frequenting.
Watching lately: FINALLY watched Stranger Things. Loved. It. New favorite animated movie? SING.
Enjoying lately: almond chai lattes; blonder hair; loungewear; sneakers with dresses; fresh flowers from Trader Joe's; walks to breakfast; face masks; mint tea; puppy snuggles; Kayla Itsines' BBG guide; and creating again.
Ahhhhh. The feel of my fingers on the keys is as life giving to me as Spring is to nature. It's been too long. And yet, it's been just the right amount of time away. I've been able to unplug, enjoy precious time with family, and see how God truly wanted me to spend that writing break.
Verdict? With people.
I spent it with my parents and family first and foremost. And while health continues to be an issue with my Dad, God has showed up in amazing ways over these last few months. As he does. Always. We went on a trip to Vegas; Dad and I started our own book club; dinners and sleep overs and sweet times were had on numerous occasions.
I spent it with my friends. Having a clear calendar allowed me to say yes more. Yes to coffee dates. Yes to house visits. Yes to impromptu gatherings. Honestly, this has been such a blessing. God has given me some amazing friends, both close and far. And having the freedom to say yes has allowed for me to be truly encouraged by the women in my life. Weekly phone calls with my best friend; coffee dates in Pasadena with sweet ones and their babies; long texts late at night that encourage my soul; sleep overs; game nights.
Now? I'm not sure. I don't have a story idea. I didn't have a break through. I still feel a bit lost and creatively empty. But. It felt time to come back. It felt good. It felt right. It felt exciting. And honestly, I hadn't felt that until today.
So, here's to a new season of writing. Let's see what comes.
Love you, readers.