Start writing more. It’ll get rid of all those moods you’re having.
I used to have this quote on a sticky note stuck to my computer monitor, and it has never lost its wise charm for me. Bradbury is absolutely right: the act of writing, itself, is a great balm for heart and soul, and the gods all know by now I need that balm, these days more than ever.
I’m never happier or healthier than when I’m into a writing project full-tilt, over my head, spilling over. This isn’t to say that the writing is always enjoyable, because often it’s anything but. But the intense application of self produces satisfaction and engages the brain in wonderful ways and an act of pure creation is a soulful thing.
Writing something can be hard work, but the hardest part is beginning. Oh, and keeping at it. Yes, those are the hardest parts, along with ending it. Other than that, it’s all a breeze.
I wrote 75% of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom in a month. I was doing extremely well on all fronts, my moods improved by long-needed therapy and some Wellbutrin (an antidepressant which, unlike most others, doesn’t kill your sex drive, a murder that would tend to dampen my moods more than brighten them), putting in lots of time exercising on a plan designed by a champion triathlete, spending lots of time with my son…
Then we went on vacation. I was going to write on vacation, keep up my momentum. Not so much. I was going to exercise on vacation, keep on track. Didn’t happen. That was okay, I’d get back to all of it when we got home.
Instead, I procrastinated. My focus was broken. Then my therapist moved on to bigger things, meaning I’d need to start anew with someone else, and I really didn’t want to do that. No therapy, and I got off the meds.
The last quarter of the book took a year. And we’re not talking a long book here.
Losing my momentum was an awful thing. From standing straight enough that I could actually raise my head above the loveless, shadowy murk that was my marriage and see the world outside, I slumped back into the dark, and day after day after day after week after month slid past. I wrote in bubbles of positive energy that drifted along all too rarely.
But, eventually, I finished. And, as Steve Martin has said, “I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” Through some wonderful synchronicity, the book found an agent, who then found it a publisher, Putnam. And next May, it’ll make its way into the market and hopefully thrill godzillions of readers so I can keep doing this as a living, rather than something having to do with neckties or french fries.
This year has been all about divorce and moving and getting my feet under me as a single dad in a new home, all of course while struggling with that ol’ bugaboo, my depression. But the time has truly come to unleash my talent again, seduce the muse, and get that next book done in a smoother, more timely way.
NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, begins Saturday, November 1. By the end of the month, I’ll have the first draft of my next book. I’m still vacillating on what that book will be, but come Saturday, words’ll be popping out of my brain like salmon fighting upstream, and I’m quite sure it’ll help me with all these moods I’m having.