Writers create characters and worlds in which everyone does our bidding. Our creations speak the words we put into their mouths, think the thoughts we give them, act and react exactly the way we want them to. We control their every thought, word and deed.
So what happens when we, as creators of a written universe, face life in the real world? What happens when situations involving family or careers spiral out of control?
How can writers keep from getting the blues when the real world wonâ€™t co-operate as nicely as our plots and characters on the written page? How can we keep the dream going in the face of rejection, family crises, health challenges, or endless demands on our time?
After almost twenty novels and twenty years in the business, Iâ€™ve had plenty of experience with the mercurial ups and downs of a writerâ€™s life. Here are some of the thoughts I fall back on to snap myself out of a funk when my world spins out of control.
1. Give up some control and delegate. Maybe your characters can do everything at once, but you physically canâ€™t. Delegate whenever and whatever you can. Things might not get done exactly the way you want, but in the long run, who cares? Ask for help when you need it.
2. Take time for yourself. Find a quiet corner in the house, the garden, at a park–or in drastic situationsâ€”get in the car and escape. Set up a retreat area for yourself. Include a scented candle, incense, soft music, whatever you like. Take a deep breath, quiet your mind, close your eyes, and tell yourself that things never stay the same. Life is in constant flux. Whatever is overwhelming you shall pass. Let it go. Meditate or pray. Visualize the outcome you desire.
3. Exercise. Get moving. Go outside if weather permits. Fifteen minutes sitting in a puddle of sunshine in a corner of the yard or porch works wonders to lift your spirit. Take a walk. Drive to a different neighborhood if youâ€™re bored walking around your own.
4. Know your limitations. When you are down, donâ€™t overload yourself with more obligations, appointments, and deadlines. If a full calendar starts to make you anxious, start saying no. Know how long it will realistically take you to meet your deadlines and leave time for the unexpected things that are sure to come up.
5. Stay in touch. While you are guarding your time, donâ€™t go overboard and isolate yourself when you need people the most. Call an old friend. Talk to those you trust about whatâ€™s bugging you. Get good advice. Help someone else. Volunteer your time in a new and different way. Go out and refill the creative well.
6. Eat right. Notice I didnâ€™t say eat healthy, because you know what works for you. Just remember that caffeine, sugar, alcohol and chocolate might give you a quick lift, but you can bet it wonâ€™t last. You may end up feeling worse than you did before you over indulged.
7. Take action. Decide how you can help yourself and start to take action. Try writing your way out of the blues. Call a friend and talk things through. Come up with as many new ideas for all areas of your life as you can and then start working on the one you like best. Figure out whatâ€™s not working anymore and make changes.
8. Stay positive. With practice it can be done, even if that means saying â€œStop it!â€ to yourself when a negative thought pops up. Donâ€™t dwell upon the past. Set realistic goals. Applaud your achievements. Avoid people who are critical of you and of your goals. If they are family, limit your time with them. If they are your immediate family, speak up and tell them you need their support.
9. Count your blessings. List the people and things in your life that make it worthwhile. Make lists of what makes you happy. List all the positive things youâ€™ve accomplished, list your favorite things, (ice cream, orchids, whatever). List your friends and family and what you love about them.
10. Act instead of reacting: See #7 above again and remember: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. When you feel as if youâ€™re at the end of your rope, tie another knot and hang on.
Hopefully one or more of these thoughts will help if you ever get down. Remember that life is full of endless possibilities. You truly are the master of your own universe.
Jill Marie Landis is the best selling author of twenty novels. Not only is she listed on the RWA Honor Roll, but six of her books have been Rita Finalists. She is a Golden Heart, Golden Medallion, and Rita Winner. Heartbreak Hotel, named one of the Top 5 Romances of 2005 by the Library Journal, will be released in paperback in August 2006. To keep up with her adventures in paradise, read her blog at http://www.jillmarielandis.com/