Writing VS Hiding
The life of a writer is often spent roaming through imaginary worlds, unraveling tales of mystery, suspense, action and romance. These are the places where the good guys overcome their deepest, darkest fears to defeat a looming evil. Here, we are in control, deciding the fate of everything.
BING - An elevator opens and the man of your dreams looks up and smiles.
BANG - A cop guns down a mobster in a shadowy back alley.
BOOM - New York City is wiped out as a comet crashes to Earth.
The writer's impact on their stories and characters can take careful planning and consideration. Focus and determination. Trial and error. Above all, these world-building steps take time and require persistence. A spectrum of emotions can follow, from pride to frustration, as problems are solved and new issues surface on the journey to telling a story.
That's the life of a writer, though, right? Eh...
What if you found yourself constantly in these worlds? What if reality wasn't cutting it anymore? Suddenly you're taking on more and more projects as a means of ensuring that there is less and less reason to ever leave the comfort of stories where you have complete control.
Maybe you've stop calling friends or you're isolating yourself.
There will always be times where we have a deadline to meet and it's time to put life on hold to ensure that you're work is completed, but, as you may have guessed, that's not what I'm talking about here.
I'm simply asking that we take a moment to examine and be mindful in addressing our reality. To figure out what stories we're telling ourselves.
A great many writers and artists deal with depression and anxiety. They throw themselves into their art, receive praise from their fans and continue working to extend or grow that feeling of validation. It's a cycle that most of us are familiar with, but what if tragedy strikes? A traumatic event such as a natural disaster, the ending of a relationship or a death in the family can send you spiraling. Do you then go deeper into your work, or are you granting yourself the time that you need to heal and process your emotions properly?
Distraction is something that we all use as a protective barrier to prevent us from looking at and addressing pain. Maybe it's a weekend bender, spending money we don't have or replacing that missing piece one way or another. Impulsive and reckless behaviors can breed shame and send us unwittingly further down the rabbit hole. You don't have money for new shoes, so now you're shaming yourself for being so careless and possibly even shaming yourself for being so hard on yourself in the first place. Further and further down.
But what if your distraction is your work? Your writing or art? The passion that drives us can also block us from healing. You hide there, hoping no one will see you and with more work in the pipeline, it won't be long until the praise and validation returns. Then you'll feel better. Or will you?
It's not uncommon for me to regurgitate themes from my life into my work, but to be honest, I have a hard time focusing when I'm hit with something serious. Depression is a great opportunity to get caught up on sleep, but it doesn't do much for me creatively. It's better to process the issue(s) and come back clear-headed for me to get the best results.
And isn't that what we all want - our best work?
Sure you wrote five stories, but you couldn't focus. The narrative is sloppy and the dialogue is trite. And guess what - that PAIN? It's still there. Nagging at you when your brain is finally allowed to slow down and rest.
I mean, putting your socks on while sitting on the toilet sounds like a time-saver, but it's actually super awkward and difficult. (This metaphor means nothing.)
And to be clear, I'm not talking about the stress of a deadline, which can actually be a great motivator. I'm talking about closing your heart versus opening it. Sitting with and processing pain instead of burying it and erecting a five story building on top of it. (This is a much better metaphor - a bettaphor, even.)
Ultimately, your brain is doing its best job to protect you, but over time and left unchecked, that protection can become a wall that surrounds you. The mind's attempt to help can hurt you in ways you didn't imagine. And believe me, as a part-time horror writer, I can imagine quite a few.
This blog may not speak to you and that's ok by me, but if it does, I hope you'll take the time you need to look inside or seek outside help to find some resolution. Your work will be there and it's a much better process without the anxiety and depression that comes from avoiding problems rather than addressing them.
Be the protagonist of your own story and put that focus and determination to work until you're living a lighter, healthier life - then write about it. ❤
Thanks for reading -