Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Managing your emotions

We writers are an emotional bunch. It is both a blessing and a curse. Our ability to tap into the deep emotions raging inside us is what allows us to create such believable characters. At the same time, we are prone to experiencing periods of self-doubt, insecurity, worthlessness, and in the worst case--depression.

I am reminded of Rose Wilder Lane's biography The Ghost in the Little House. Rose was considered an excellent writer in her time. She traveled to Albania, Vietnam, and Baghdad. She ghostwrote many books, in addition to her own books and the many articles she wrote for Country Gentlemen, Woman's Day, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Yet for all her success, Lane spent a lot of her adult years unable to write because of the depression that overtook her. She felt torn between living in Europe and the responsibility of caring for her parents in America. Not feeling loved as a child, she reached out to men whom she felt she could have loving relationships with, only to end them because she never found exactly what she was looking for. She always sought to write something more substantial than the books and articles she had already penned.

It has been over a month since I've been able to write anything other than blog entries. Like Lane, I am controlled by my emotions. I have two novels and a memoir waiting for me, not to mention the two short stories I wanted to finish this month. And yet, I feel absolutely no desire to write. I knew it was bad when I couldn't even write a fan fiction story--that has always been my key to kicking my imagination into gear.

In Joyce Meyer's book Managing Your Emotions, Meyer speaks of the importance of not being led by our emotions. Surely, I am one who is led by every emotion I feel. Whether or not you consider yourself a person of faith, this one sentence in Meyer's conclusion sums it all up:

Until we learn to manage them, our emotions can be our greatest enemy because Satan will try to use them to keep us from walking in the Spirit.

Can it not also be said then, that unless we learn to manage our emotions, they can be our greatest enemy because they keep us from reaching our full potential? This is where I am now. I am being led along by emotions, unable to write, because I can't manage what I am feeling.

I refuse to allow this to continue. I want to be a published writer. I want to see my books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders. I want people to interview me, instead of me interviewing them. And the only way for me to do this, is to manage my emotions. I'm not sure how to go about it yet. I will read Meyer's book, which I was never able to get through the first time. Maybe I just wasn't ready. I will keep forcing myself into my chair to write blog entries and even some words in one of the handful of writing projects I have going on. I will get through this, because I am a writer and nothing can keep me from reaching my full potential--unless I allow it.



Jean said...

I think our emotions are one of the things that make us the writers we are. How else can we make others feel if we don't? The key is not to let them control us...and when you figure out how, be sure to let me know:--)

I sulked for almost 48 hours and didn't write a thing after I wasn't one of the contest winners.

Thanks for sharing with us:--)


Candela Martinez said...

Cheryl, you have hit upon my own feelings. Thank you for sharing. Yes, we do have to push through even when crippled by life's curve balls. Like you, I'm pushing forward. See you at the finish line right beside me. :)

Candela Martinez

Laura said...


Very powerful post. We are moved and motivated by emotions but I don't think that's always bad.

Like Speck said I think they help us make others feel.

When depression hits me sometimes writing helps and other times it just another chore I have to muddle through.

Thanks for sharing. Let me know what you think of Joyce Mayer's book.

Here's to loads of clips and brighter days adhead!


Cheryl said...

Thanks for the encouragment. After I published this post I fired off a PM to Speck and Sassy, afraid this might not be appropriate for the SC blog. I'm glad to see I am not the only one who struggles with this.

But we can all move beyond it together and become better writers in the end.


Snow said...

I too agree that our writing comes from within our emotions. I have had days when I've cried because I couldn't think of anything to write, only to find out that I wasn't really crying for the words, It was because I was depressed.

Depression is not something I usually get, So when my doctor told me I was getting them, That scared me.

She advised me to write my feelings down in a diary or journal to help manage it better since I can't take medication.

I tell you, it really helped. Maybe you should give it a try too.

Thanks for the great blog.


Cheryl said...

Thanks for the advice and support, snow. I haven't written in my journal for ages. I almost use my blog for that these days.

I am determined to get by this and start writing again. After all, I have an article on procrastination due in April. Can't have the one giving the advice putting things off. LOL!


Sharon said...

This is a great blog, Cheryl. I too struggle with being led by my emotions. I struggle with frustation, which turns into depression many times, and it's like my mind just freezes up and I can't make myself do even the things that I really want to do--like write or paint. Then I feel guilty for not using the time I have for writing and painting. It's a vicious cycle. But, as some of the others have said, when I am writing and painting, it's these very emotions that I tap into to bring emotion to the piece. You are definately not alone, and as someone else said, we'll keep pushing forward and all make it to the finish line together. :) Thanks for the blog and for letting me know that I'm not alone either. Sharon

Cheryl said...

I'm glad it helped Sharon.