Bad Brain Day

I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna, and you can’t make me. Seriously, I’m barely managing to keep my own head above water. I have to set the kids in front of the screen to get time to write. Which happens once a week, pretty much. I’m tired of it, but there’s no relief in sight. Fortunately (heh, heh) Mrs. Dave will be going back on a normal schedule next week. Fortunately. Yeah. Sure.

I dunno, y’all. I feel close to being done. I have bad brain days, and they always seem to line up with Tuesdays. I don’t have any wisdom to impart, or even any real experience. Would it shock you to learn I’ve never finished a novel? You can’t be a writer if you don’t write, and you can’t be a professional if you don’t regularly finish things and kick them out the door. Y’all react pretty well to what I put up, but … I dunno. I really don’t.

I spend most of my time managing the household, which leaves very little for personal improvement of any kind. Assuming I have the energy, which is in short supply most of the time.

This is basically how I feel, right now. As an introvert, I’m not getting any introversion time, right now. Sic semper tyrannis, and all that, but it’s not getting me any time off of being The Guy. Right now I’m The Guy, and that doesn’t look like it’s really going to stop. Maybe you’re The Guy, or The Gal (hey, look at me: I’m inclusive!), and you aren’t getting what you need. You’re not alone.

But what do we do about that, as writers? What can you do as a creative type who often need something to kick-start the process? I dunno. Find some time to yourself? I can tell you what I do. First, I experience. I have a love/hate relationship with mysticism. It’s a valid form of epistemology (or at least, it’s classically human. see: love/hate) though uncomfortable for many. I often find myself grinding on the walls of my own skull to work out a bunch of stuff, which ends up looking much the same.

Ultimately, I find I have to delve the vexing depths of whatever is bothering me before I can move on to actually doing something. It’s exhausting, but it seems to be a necessary part of my process. I find I have to push through the psychic morass. I find anger helps, actually. Which is part and parcel of depression, but I might as well make this mess work for me, right?

What gets you through to a place where you can do? There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though it usually feels a lot more like crawling through a desert to get to a cool drink, or breaking down a wall to get to a place of some safety or sanity on the other side. Honestly, the single most helpful discovery I’ve made is the ability to recognize when my brain chemistry is lying to me, and then to ignore it. It’s incredibly empowering.

9 comments

  1. I have yet to finish a novel, as well. I’ve gotten pretty close, but stress + chemistry=no brain.
    So, I understand where you are coming from, which is why most novelist aren’t completing novels if they are the main nurturer. Yes, it’s possible, but that’s not the norm.

    I find for me, if I don’t have input, I don’t output. Even poor tv shows can help. My brain needs to be entertained in order to get bored enough to want to create. IF you are spending all your brain creativity on handling crisis after crisis then you don’t have any left over for idle creativity.

    Good luck. Keep plugging, forgive yourself. I feel the same thing, and I think it’s one of those bull statements: You aren’t a writer if you don’t write and get it out the door. You may not be a PAID writer, but you still are a writer or artist or musician, …. Kind of like a recent very racist statement we’ve heard lately on the news about, well, you know.

    1. I agree with almost everything you say. Your comment about most novelists not being the main nurturer strikes me as wrong. There are many who are exactly that. They might not be in SF but they are in Romance and other genres. It isn’t easy and I’ve been there. Not everyone can do it. Too often, it comes down to whether there is a partner willing or able to step in and help or the writer being able to get up an hour early or go to bed an hour later to get some writing done.

      I’m not trying to make light of David’s situation. Again, been there and done that. But, as I said, my objection is to your comment that most novelists aren’t the chief nurturer. I’m afraid I need to see facts and figures on that because I know too many who are exactly that and who do finish their books. It takes them longer and there are sacrifices being made–usually by them. But it can and is done.

      1. Perhaps I should have said main nurturer with young children. Yes, there are definitely those who are and who manage it. But what I’ve seen is that their kids are older (probably in school) and able to take care of themselves more.

        https://www.writerswrite.co.za/the-ages-of-bestselling-authors/
        https://electricliterature.com/infographic-what-age-do-writers-publish-their-most-famous-works/
        https://booksonthewall.com/blog/ages-101-famous-writers-first-publication/

        So, this is just conjecture and interpretation on my part, and generalization, so I’m not denigrating either those who do accomplish that or those who don’t.

        From the charts above, the younger people publishing are mostly publishing poems or short stories, or if novels, the majority are male (And in their time periods, the female in their lives (if they had them) would have been the primary nurtures (maybe I should use the word caretakers?). )

        So, beyond opinion or wag, I have no further data for you.

        1. The problem with both graphics is who they are looking at. The first looks at best selling authors. The second isn’t looking at authors today but going back in time and considering authors from the 50’s and other eras as well. Both will skew the results.

        2. I put out my first novel when I was a single mother of 4 children – and two of them were quite young. It’s possible. It’s not easy, but it can certainly be done.

  2. I find getting enough sleep and creating _anything_ helps. I figure it’s brain chemistry, the good kind.

    So stop beating yourself up. Get the kids a snack in front of the TV and try to do a little bit of writing. If one book isn’t talking to you, just write a completely unconnected scene. The sillier the better. Go completely over the top.

  3. Very random comments on this issue. Children need someone to use intelligence on them. That is why they are exhausting.

    Anne of Green Gables in some later book says, when someone asks her about her writing, “I’m writing living epistles now.”

    Jenifer Fulwiler was a housewife who wanted to write. She has a lot to say about following what she calls the “blue flame” in her life. But what I can remember is that she found ways to hire a babysitter for a small period of time every week. She was very conflicted about it but it really helped her. And she did not have much money at all.

    Just thoughts …

  4. Well, I did finish the first one, but it was in no shape to be published (I have hopes that, eventually, it may be editable and redeemable).
    I’m about 1/2 way through the second, and have lately been putting down notes for the rest of the book. I’ve been journaling, after a long period of not. For me, it’s a matter of writing, no matter what – eventually, the urge to get back to the novel is irresistible. I’ve gotten off track 3 times. I’m gearing up to git ‘er done, this time.
    I’ve found the middle of the night time to be very productive – from about 2 am to around 6 am. In my house, no one is up at that time, and it’s golden for working uninterrupted. Try setting up a work space before you go to bed. If you find yourself restless and awake, the way is clear to dive in without a pause. That’s how I’ve managed to start, and finish, some short stories.
    My inner critic is also silent during the night. I find a lot of creative solutions without that presence.

  5. *grabs large stick and stands at Dave’s door*
    Here, black dog, c’mere, got somethin’ for you….

    *********

    You’ve got a solid tactical plan, right now is Not Conducive, and I wouldn’t have bothered to read if I didn’t think you had something worth saying.

    Plus, kids.

    I’ve had some luck with taking the time when I can’t brain to start putting together a series bible– maybe that’ll help?

    Especially vs Children.

    ….I had to stop four times writing this to deal with Kids, so feel you there.

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