On Writing, Ranée


Creativity requires a certain amount of disorder—a good kind of chaos, if you will, and I fully admit to being a bit Scarlet-Witchy (OK, more than a bit). However, in this post, I’m talking about the bad kind of disorder, the sort that comes from a lack of clarity and has nothing to do with creative spirit.

I’ve spent some time this week migrating content that I’ve written for my current story from my notebooks into Scrivener and, in the process, I’ve come to an important realization—I should not be writing when I’m depressed or stressed out unless I’m just writing about how I’m feeling. I haven’t got much of substance to show for the months when I’ve been trying to write while feeling bad; the little that I do have is a jumbled mess. All of the more organized threads that flow into actual chapters were written prior to depression and anxiety setting in. It is exceptionally difficult for me to maintain a decent level of concentration and to organize myself when I am depressed or anxious; that’s always been true. The difference now is, I’m aware of it. I know now that this was the real reason I could never finish a book let alone really get one started—my emotional struggles caused me to lose focus to the point that I just couldn’t get it together.

The other lesson I’ve learned is that I need to follow my own advice and when nothing good is coming or I’m just not feeling like working on a particular project, then I need to write something else, whether that something is journaling, writing a blog post, or working on another creative project. With regard to the latter, I’ve been forcing myself to stick with one creative writing project at a time out of fear I’ll never finish anything if I don’t make myself plow through, but I’ve realized that, by doing this, I’ve been hampering my own creativity (and as I noted above, the real problem for all those years was depression, not my tendency toward chaos-witchiness). I hate doing the same thing all the time; I get extremely bored and end up feeling constrained. I certainly need some structure to keep me on track, but instead of forcing myself to push on when my heart’s not really in it, I should instead embrace my own dynamic nature, be flexible, and work on whatever project I feel like on a given day (employ an organized chaos, so to speak). My hope is that by changing things up, I’ll avoid stagnating and will instead keep the embers of my creative fire burning.

Along the same lines, while my story ideas tend to be nonlinear, with scenes/flashes coming at random, I need to write in chapters. If I have a scene in my head, then I will write it but I also need to write what goes around or with it, connecting the dots. This will save me having to go back and fill in loads of blanks later and will help to keep me organized. I mean, even when Wanda was completely disrupting people’s lives, she still provided a substantial amount of structure. The least I can do is turn random scenes into full-fledged chapters (the fact that I have already done it is proof I can do it again).

So this will be my new process once I’ve moved over the stuff I’ve got in my notebooks. Maybe I’ll even consider going back to writing on the computer. Ha! Sorry, but computer writing for creative projects is reserved for revising . . . unless I find a good electronic approximation for a pen and notebook that can be transferred straight into the computer and integrate with Scrivener, but that’s another topic for another day.


Shelter From the Storm

Change is chaotic. Comes with the territory. But I’m a firm believer that change is also positive and necessary for growth. I’m in the midst of what I feel in my heart is a very crucial transition in my life on more than one level. One chapter is ending for me, yes, but another is just beginning.

My professional life is in a bit of an upheaval at present. I just passed the five-year milestone in my current position, which is typically a cause for celebration. However, that role also ends on December 1 of this year due to outsourcing and although the work is winding down for me, I’ve still got plenty to do plus home projects and an eight-year-old in virtual school while both my husband and I are working from home. I’ll admit that it’s been discouraging trying to find other jobs; there aren’t a whole lot of prospects yet the pool of job seekers is growing ever larger. On top of all that, I feel as if I’ve had no time for business development.

Contemplating a career change when you’re in your forties or older can be scary enough. Oddly though, when I learned earlier this year that my position was being made redundant, my initial reaction wasn’t one of fear or even sadness or shock, but rather a strange mix of curiosity and excitement. Something awesome is coming, I thought. Well, that initial optimism has waned over the past several months and I’m now looking for a way to revive it, to remain steadfast in that faith.

In the past, when I felt anxious or depressed, I employed some very poor coping mechanisms such as impulsive spending and drinking alcohol. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that the former resurfaced as I transitioned off my prescription medication over the past month. Fear got me; fear that I couldn’t manage without it. Well, guess what? That’s bullshit. I can cultivate my own calm amidst the chaos because I’ve developed a number of helpful strategies over the past couple of years. I still take a small dose of CBD oil daily, but I made a list of my “will dos.”

  • Meditate/pray
  • Practice yoga/exercise
  • Listen to music
  • Write
  • Spend time in nature/stargaze
  • Spend time/talk with loved ones
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Burn candles/make a fire
  • Engage in other creative projects

All of these things are proven ways for me to face any fear, anxiety, and depressed mood that arises. They keep me grounded and focused, remind me that I’m a strong, capable person with much to be grateful for, afford me outlets for expressing my thoughts and feelings, and help me to combat any contributing negative forces. These are the foundations on which I will build my shelter from the storm.