Saturday, February 12, 2011

Writing Through the Stress

Writing through the Stress

We are all human. We all go through difficult times.

Things happen. In the last couple of years I’ve experienced about every stress you can think of. I’ve sold a home, lived in an uninsulated garage from October through January in below zero weather. I rebuilt, yes rebuilt, an old dance hall that would eventually become my new home, and moved into said home. I turned forty, yeah I know, big deal. It was. I felt like I didn’t reach many of the goals I’d set for myself and the feelings of failure lingered in my mind, causing more than one occasion of writer’s block. My father was diagnosed with cancer for the second time and is currently going through chemo. I’ve had a dear friend at the age of 35 pass, as well as a beloved uncle. My grandparents, both of them, have been in and out of the hospital, one is now in a nursing home, recovering. My son turned eighteen, graduated high school and joined the Marines. He’s now over in Afghanistan.

But with all the negative things in my life, there are also good stresses too. My first grandchild was born this last summer and my son also married. I now have a daughter-in-law I adore. My first print book came out in November and I’ve nearly wrapped up a second story to that series.

How do you write through things like this? How do you focus when life is a whirlwind around you?

I have no secret formula, but I can tell you what works for me. I write. I vomit up all the thoughts and emotions jumbled around in my head and see where they take me. Sometimes they have purpose; sometimes they don’t and get cut. What I’ve learned is that those raw emotions make it into my stories in ways I didn’t expect, and sometimes just telling my laptop what’s bothering me, relieves a great deal of the stress, or pain.

When I was homeless, living in an un-insulated garage, I wrote and published my first stories. No internet. I had to go to the library to check emails and send out submissions and it seemed like every waken moment was given to work or used to build my new home. I was always exhausted. It was no accident my heroine, Jocelyn Miller in Slipping the Past, was homeless. The feelings I had of displacement, the need to rise above adversity, leached their way into my novel.

It seems during the craziest times of our lives, sometimes the most compelling stories can emerge. These are the times when writers don’t censure and frankly we don’t care to. These are the times we open up and really show you what we’re made of. Never is a writer’s inner thoughts more naked than when we are going through hell.

Everyone has their own way to get through the difficult times and meet deadlines. Some take a bath. Some go shopping. Others chat or visit friends.  I sit down and start typing. Just write. From the heart. I assault that plain white page with every thought—every turn of fate that conspires against me.

Okay, here’s where you leave a comment to get a chance to win one of J’s stories and have a character named after you. What’s not to love?


D. F. Krieger said...

I really appreciate your post today. I was wallowing in self pity last night, thinking about ALL the bad stuff that happened last year and hoping this year will be the opposite (it hasn't let me down thus far). I'm glad you shared your tips with getting through it, think I may implement them for my 'down and dark days'. Thanks!

D L Jackson said...

Thanks for stopping by D F. I hope your year continues to be a good one.

Annie Nicholas said...

Dawn, it was during a trying time that I found my voice and took to writing to relieve my emotions. And like you, those emotions bled onto paper. I think my story was the best therapy.

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

I think that writing through your pain is what makes you all better writers. I really believe you all put so much of yourselves in to the characters you create and leave a piece of yourselves within them. I appreciate your sharing what drives you and what your passions creates in your books....*S*
Thank you for sharing it...*S*