Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

Recapturing my zen place

Late last week, I hit a snag. Not in the plot, but in my attitude. I was feeling low, impatient, inadequate. Truth is, this happens all the time, to every writer. Sometimes just for a second, sometimes for a day, a week, a month, or (god forbid) a year or more. It’s one of those lesser-known truths, an occupational hazard of the writing life that we prefer to ignore or forget. But why do you think so many of the greats turned to alcohol and drugs?

Fortunately there are other coping mechanisms, and most of us take advantage of them now. One of the best remedies available is your writing community, whether in-person or online.

• Ex: the Intern’s “frightful confession.” (Bloody brilliant.)
• Also: encouraging emails from your crit partners.

Another remedy is writing itself.

• Ex: my guest post today at Writer Unboxed, “The hardest part of being a writer.” (Writing this helped me sort out my own feelings and move on.)

Those are places I turned last week, and now I’m back in my zen place. I know I’ll leave it again, but I also know I’ll find it again. Over and over, because that’s how this writing life goes.

(And really, any creative life.)

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9 Comments

  1. “Truth is, this happens all the time, to every writer. Sometimes just for a second, sometimes for a day, a week, a month, or (god forbid) a year or more.”

    This is very true. I used to get worried about my bouts of writer’s block and feelings of inadequacy. It scared me to death. I’d think it was all over, and why had I ever thought I was a writer in the first place? But as I’ve matured and the years and “snags” have come and gone, I’ve come to accept them. I know there will be times when I’ll feel inadequate. I know there will be times when I won’t have anything to say, will be sick of my own voice, and won’t have any interest in putting words on paper. It will scare me for a moment (which has, at times, stretched into a year), but then I’ll stop. And breathe. And wait. Because the urge, and need, and belief that I can write will always come back.

  2. I loved the Internist piece. Very helpful and funny and true. Hang in there, K.

  3. There’s this sort of lame saying, often heard in self-help-ish circles, that goes, “Don’t should all over yourself.” I find it a good thing to keep in mind.

  4. “But why do you think so many of the greats turned to alcohol and drugs?”

    Very true, but I do find it amusing to try to imagine Hemingway adopting any of these methods.

    And I agree with the “don’t ‘should'” idea. No good comes from that.

  5. For me, I’m constantly seeking balance, and the things you mentioned are what work for me too. It’s nice for our crit group that two are writing and two are revising…support is needed all around, but different kinds. going to check out that link now. :)

  6. Kristan – great guest post over at Writer Unboxed. And I’m dying to read the Intern’s frightful confession. My own coping mechanism is exercise. I just tell myself, “I don’t care how crappy you feel. I don’t care how much you’d rather NOT run, just do it, because it will make you feel better.” And it always does. Even if it’s a short run. I think what’s important is for us to find out what works for us – what coping mechanism helps us get through the slumps. For you it’s writing, for me it’s exercise, for someone else it may be meeting up with a friend.

  7. Juliann-
    So beautifully put. :)

    Christa-
    Thanks!

    Sonja-
    Lol. Haven’t heard that one before, but I love it.

    Anthony-
    You don’t think Hem would have been a hit on Twitter? :P

    Sarah-
    I think you’ll love the “frightful confession.”

    Meghan-
    Thanks! Great comment over there by you, too. I don’t think exercise is my coping mechanism, but I do feel good when I step away from the keyboard for a bit. Having a dog requires me to go out and walk several times a day, and I love that.

  8. Joelle

    I love the honesty in your posts. Impatience, inadequate feelings and general thinking “What am I doing? Is this really for me?” is something that all writers can understand.

    “One of the best remedies available is your writing community, whether in-person or online” – so true.

  9. Thanks, Joelle!

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