The Blitz Blues
The Bottom of the Rollercoaster Called Writer’s Life
A writer is someone who is always screwed.
We're individuals intrinsically driven by the urgency to express our thoughts and ideas, yet constantly struggling to do it seamlessly.
Sometimes we don’t know what to write about, others we do but we don’t know how to approach it. Then we see the clock ticking and the ideas vanishing, and a lightning of certainty falls on us: “I can’t do it, that’s it, I’m done.”
I experience that daily.
The Writer’s Life
On any typical day, I wake up, get dressed, and drag myself to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.
I then enter Writer mode. I’m excited.
I’m at my desk, with a cup of hot coffee under my nose, looking at the blank page and the blinking cursor - “Is it counting all the numerous stories that I can write about?”
Minutes pass, visual silence…
A slow eye movement to the low right corner of the screen… eyes back to the blank page - “there’s still time…”
I open my drafts folder, skimming through the titles to see if I feel like writing about any.
“These are all awful, if they weren’t I would have finished them already.” I’m frustrated now.
I look around the room for inspiration, but instead I see an empty plate on the dining table. I get up and take it to the sink. There I see more unwashed dishes, so I roll up my sleeves and take care of it.
There's nothing like having an essay to write to keep the house clean and tidy, since procrastinating is part of the job description of being a writer.
Now back to the desk. I still can’t think of any topic to write about. Now I’m stressed.
I don’t know what hurts the most, failing to publish or failing to put out all the ideas that wander around in my head. It’s the latter, I always come to that conclusion.
It hurts more not to write than to write. Still, both suck. “Having written” is awesome, though.
Ok, if I were to panic, now would be the time. This asks for emergency measures, so I do what I usually do when I’m in trouble to start writing: I replay some conversation that I had, and start typing dialogues:
“Write about how you’re feeling” - my girlfriend suggested.
I had just told her that I was feeling apathetic, with no energy or will to do anything, I just wanted to lie down and stay, stay for as long as I could, or as long as my obligations would let me.
I had never felt that way. I was missing publishing deadlines, skipping online sessions with some of my favorite people in the world, and wasting serendipitous moments in exchange for a couch and a blanket.
I won’t call it “depression”. That would insult those who feel like this every day for years. In my case, it came from nowhere, hit me hard, got me down for two weeks, and then it went away.
It didn’t suddenly disappear, I worked towards it, as I wanted to get out of that dark hole, but I’m sure everyone who suffers from depression wants to get out as well. Maybe their hole is deeper and darker. Maybe they lack the tools to climb out.
My tools were there, I just needed to remember them.
At the end of the second week of feeling like this, I decided it was enough, something needed to change - I needed to change.
So I got up, shaved my 4-week beard, and dressed in something that didn’t say “depressed middle-aged man”.
I recalled my writing principles, the “Why I Write”, and used them as stepping stones to get out of the hole.
For my son
To refine my ideas
To make the world better
To gain new forms of freedom
To connect with interesting people
I had to remember that those principles were worth the struggle.
So I sat at my desk once again, and I wrote these lines that you are reading. I feel good.
While I was vegetating on the couch, what was making me feel bad was the guilt of not writing, the guilt of letting go of the opportunity to bring a smile to someone's face when reading some stupid joke that I wrote. The guilt of letting my girlfriend down after all the work she’s been taking so I can have my writing time.
That was my last stepping stone: guilt.
This mood went off as fast as it came. So fast that I called it “The Blitz Blues”, and it’s part of the ride of the rollercoaster that is a writer’s life.
I know creatives experience emotional highs and lows. It’s part of the process. Emotions are the colors that paint the blank canvas. I’m at peace knowing that.
We need to be careful of the big dips on the ride, so we won’t get stuck there, but we must also be conscious about the high tops because, at some point, we know we have to get down to ground level.
A flat ride is no fun, so enjoy your journey, just remember to have your tools at hand, just in case.
Back to the Writer’s Life
And with that, dialogue saved the day once again. I feel rested and accomplished for shipping another one.
Tomorrow is a new day, and a new blank page awaits me.
This essay was written during a 7-hour Writing Sprint held by the Write of Passage Team.
A big thank you to, , Kris Mayrand, and for the amazing tips and feedback on this.