Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Talking 'Bout the Big D

No, I don't mean divorce. Or Dallas. Discouragement is the one. I've been in a funk of discouragement over the book for the past 10 odd days. But progress is being made. First of all, I had a good work session today, the first really satisfying one since the discouragement set in. Second, I'm feeling hope and optimism work their way back into my heart. And third, I've been much calmer than usual about this round of discouragement. Less panicky. Less resistant. I've been through this several times at least with the book, and so I guess I'm learning to ride it out. I know I lived through the last few times, and afterwards I still wanted to write in general, and more specifically the novel, so maybe I'm developing some faith. Learning to accept all parts of the process, the smooth riding parts and the bumpy ones. Not that it's comfortable. It's not. But I have some tools now. I have some things that I know work, that I know help. Here's my list:

1. Artist dates--I do more than usual, and I do better ones than usual. Last week I had a French party complete with a French film, an almond croissant, and a glass of the beaujeaulais nouveau.

2. Walking. Walking really helps. Literally putting one foot in front of the other. Gets me out of my head, into my body, provides a change of scenery, food for my senses, and somehow just helps things to settle out, my thoughts to untangle, my heart to quiet.

3. Talking to Claire, my novelist friend. She provides encouragement, insight and empathy. What a gift.

4. Being extra nice to myself. This means sleeping in. This means little treats like M&Ms, this means humoring whims, any little thing that may lift my spirits.

5. Reading Julia Cameron. I'm not currently working with The Artist Way or any of Julia's books, but I'll look in the index, under say, discouragement. Her words are often just the medicine I need.

6. Seeing friends, especially ones who make me laugh, which come to think of it, is all my friends.

7. Going to my job. Yes, this helped enormously over the last week. Because I couldn't feel productive in my writing, it really helped to feel productive in another area of my life.

8. Basking in the light of my Christmas tree.

9. Moving things around the house.

10. Cooking.

What are your strategies for dealing with discouragement, or just a good old fashioned funk? I'd love to know.

Maybe coming out of discouragement is like getting over a migraine. At first, I just feel the absence of pain, then each day I get a bit less foggy until I feel back to normal. I may not be quite at normal yet, but I'm getting there.


Greg said...

this is Greg. Somehow, my account is messed up.

To be discouraged, you have to have expectations you are not living up to. Sometimes the problem is that you just expect too much. This can be good to push yourself, but at times the expectations are counter productive.

A problem I have is believing that something other than what did happen was supposed to happen. This is like believing in an alternate reality. Based on all the variables in the universe, whatever did happen, is the only thing that could have happened. So if you don't do much writing one day, or you fail a test; that's the only thing that could have happened.

It's sometimes hard to accept this because we think we can control everything. The only thing you can do is focus on your work process and not worry about the outcome.

By that line of thinking, I guess I should have been watching Entourage reruns instead of studying last night...

sulu-design said...

First off, I'm all red-cheeked over here now that I've had the chance to catch up on the posts I missed over Thanksgiving and see that I made your grateful list. Right back at you, Julie.
When discouraged, I do the moving things around the house bit a lot, I make myself go for a run which always seems to help things for a short while afterwards, and I make lists. Lists of what I need to do to get back on track, lists of my goals, lists of things to be happy about, lists of things I've already accomplished. They often provide the focus and perspective I need. I hope this bump in the road is soon passed.

IP said...

Doing something, anything is usually a good antidote to my funks. Found your blog through meetup and just wanted to leave a note and let you know I enjoyed reading your posts. Happy holidays!

liquidambar said...

Doubt is what keeps us humble enough to revise our work as necessary. Enthusiasm is what keeps us going.
They're both essential, but enthusiasm is unquestionably more fun!
Keep going. One word at a time.

-Jenn H.

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