C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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Writing: You could quit or it could be therapy

Life is stressful, isn’t it? I know. I’m on a stress leave as I write this. This isn’t a politically correct description of what I experienced recently but, I cracked up a little. I’m not scheduled to return to my day job for another month and, in total, I’ll be off two and a half months. It’s a financial hit, sure, but I either had to stop for a while to regroup or go get myself a heart attack. 

In the meantime, I’m writing new books.

I’m tweaking old covers and trying to get healthier. I’m at the gym more and watching what I eat. I worked four jobs in the last two years and I don’t mean consecutively. I mean all at once. For a while, I need to make my life about the one occupation that is my preoccupation. This isn’t time off, per se. It’s a time to focus on the long term and make some positive changes. When I return to work, I will keep it to two jobs: my clinical work and my publishing company.

It’s easier not to: not to write, not to try, not to work, not to do anything. When depressed, I want to retreat into sleep. When anxious, I want to burn energy by punching things. Sometimes I freeze. Often, the torture of insomnia robs me of the next day’s productivity. When the enormity of the psychic pain strikes, I can’t breathe. I’d change my thoughts if I had any but in the midst of the storm, I really don’t have any thoughts to change.

When the writing doesn’t come easy, lots of writers become non-writers. It’s easier to abandon an old project and start a new one. New shiny things are more exciting. When we hit that wall, most of us keep thinking of ourselves as writers but in practice we become expert procrastinators.

At its best, writing is a compulsion that calls to us. When the stress hits me hard, writing is my solace, an escape and even therapy. It helps me impose order on the worlds I create. There isn’t much order in the non-fiction world right now. Writing helps. 

Writing is the one activity that provides me with a prolonged meditative focus. When in that state, I’m here and not here. I’m “through the page” and watching the movie in my head. I can meditate for a while, sure, but when I fall into the meditation that is writing, I can go for hours without even looking up.

As I near another book deadline, I’m reminded that no one’s making me do this. No one can make me write but me. At its best, writing (and reading) is not work. It’s play. I can’t wait to find out where the stories go. Who lives and who dies? Where does this movie in my head end? Will there be another movie with the same characters? Turn to a blank page, see what comes, enjoy the floaty feeling of creation. Find the drama in what comes next. Impose order.

If it’s not working out at all and you’re in misery, quit.

If it feels like you’re going through the motions and the act of writing fails to change you on some level, don’t bother.

However, if your book wakes you up with new twists and revelations, compelling you to keep going through that page to find out where the stories lead, keep writing. 

Readers need the escape fiction provides. I need that escape hatch for myself, too.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a suspense writer, best known for This Plague of Days. His next apocalypse will thunder down on the Amazon store before Christmas. To join the Chazz Club, sign up for updates at his author site, AllThatChazz.com.


Filed under: publishing

4 Responses

  1. acflory says:

    I’m glad you’re writing. Not glad about why you’re writing. I hope life gentles soon. And I’m looking forward to the next apocalypse! -hugs-

  2. jodylebel says:

    Nice hearing from you again. Pressing that restart button is smart. Better than sitting on your page and floundering.

  3. Hang in there! Time in the gym is often as effective and cheaper than therapy…

    • rchazzchute says:

      Yes, working out is helping, especially after the fact. Oddly, working out tends to ramp me up a bit much while I’m at the gym and a bit afterward. I think those excitable neural pathways are on a hair trigger!

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