Nancy’s Notes: The Pierced Cup
During this last holiday season I heard many talking about how they were having trouble with their writing. Some even doubted their ability as writers, which can be positively fatal for production. I don’t believe their talent was any less than before but that they were suffering from the Pierced Cup Syndrome.
Imagine you are holding a metal cup and it is full to the brim with water. Now a small pinhole appears near the bottom. It leaks. Not much but enough that, to maintain the level of water, you have to pour more in. (I know, you would change cups. Go with me on this. It’s an analogy.)
Now as time passes the cup develops more holes. You try to patch them. You really love that cup. But the leaks keep coming back and it is taking more and more water to keep the same level. Eventually it just isn’t worth it. The cup won’t hold everything in it. The frustration makes you wonder if you will ever find the right cup.
Right after Halloween I started feeling the drain of planning Thanksgiving. And as I got more and more stressed, my creativity leaked out. I found it harder to write. By Christmas I just told myself to set it aside and resume after New Year’s. There were just too many holes in my cup.
By giving myself permission to not write for a while, I think it helped relieve the internal pressures that were piling up. I do know that anything I wrote during that time would have suffered in quality. I did continue to jot down ideas and notes for later but I just didn’t commit to any full projects.
Now, how this applies to you. Most of the writers I know have day jobs, children, homes, pets, and a million other distractions demanding their time and attention. It is difficult to maintain your creativity under those conditions. Then there are internal stressors. Your frustration level rises as your energy level drops. You want to write but, when you find the time, the inclination or the inspiration fails you. Your confidence shrivels as you start to wonder why you even thought you could write.
External stressors: I know writers who go to college and work, have new babies, and toddlers that never sleep. They are exhausted. So one has to be realistic about your writing goals…for now. It is not a permanent situation.
Internal stressors: Self doubt, feeling pressured, frustration, reinforcing negative ideas, and generally working yourself up until your ability to function is impaired. Each day work to start new and positive. Don’t carry over negativity from the prior day. It’s like wearing a backpack full of bricks. Drop the backpack.
When you reach a time when you find your creativity drained and your spirits lagging there are many things you can do. Here are just a few.
– Get more sleep. Good quality sleep. The body simply must recharge and, if your sleep is suffering, it can be fixed. Treat yourself to new sheets. Visit a sleep doctor if necessary.
– Hire a babysitter. Enlist grandma. Take a break from your infant/toddler/kids in general. Grandma has experience with kids. There are people capable of giving you a break so you can recharge, read, or even get chores and shopping done without lugging kids around.
– Change your scenery. Get out and sit in a park. Drive around for a while. I find driving gives me ideas,so use your phone to record ideas instead of writing. Back home, consider changing things up. Maybe paint a room. Take a closet and turn it into an office cubby if you don’t have one. Giving your writing the respect it deserves will help you out of your funk.
– Make a plan of meals for the week. Go shopping early in the day. Bring home groceries and prep perishables. Now make several quick casseroles or side dishes. Refrigerate or freeze and then you have dinner ready to pop in the oven or microwave. There are dozens of Once-a-Month cookbooks out there that even have the grocery lists ready for you. Do a week at a time or, if you have a freezer, use a weekend and get things set up for the month. (I find I only need to plan for 5 days a week since some nights we just have sandwiches or we go out.)
There are a million ideas out there for making life easier. Pick a few but don’t make the cure worse than the illness. Keep it simple and give yourself a break. If you don’t get a chance to write more than a paragraph, then don’t punish yourself. It’s one more paragraph than you had. One page a day is a book in a year. No pressure.