Breathing Is Necessary

Recently I recalled the discussion my chapter mates had years ago concerning our need to write. At that time, none of us could imagine not ever writing. We rose early before our families and wrote. We wrote every spare moment we had throughout the day. We spent time away from non-writer friends and family and wrote. We stayed up late and wrote, often nodding off in mid-sentence. We sacrificed a lot in order to write. We needed to write as much as we needed to breathe.

Today, most of those friends no longer are writing. They gave up on the dream to be published and are pursuing other aspirations. I could never understand how they let go of the talent that fed our souls until….

Several months ago, life stole my breath away.  FYI, I’ve went through several really rough years–five years to be exact. I lost my husband and my father and my Irish Setter whose coat held many tears, all in a relatively short time. I knew then that grief was the reason I couldn’t focus on a tale of romance, but my muse continued to breathe. Why? Because I knew in my heart that one day I would again pick up my pen and start a new tale. But this time, what I felt, or rather didn’t feel, was different.  There was nothing. It was as if my muse packed her bag in the middle of the night and without even a note left me. Part of me died. So, what did I do?

I refocused on other things; family friends, day job. I studied every spare moment I could and achieved a certification for work. Day after day I continued to focused on the life that was in front of me and forgot about the worlds in my mind’s eye. I knew if I didn’t feel the need to create strongly enough, then walking in another direction was the right thing to do because if I’d forced the words, I would resent them. My stress level would go over the top and my health would suffer, as would my relationships with others.

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, my muse returned and in the first week of the new year I listened to a new character as she told me her problem. Then this past weekend I attended my chapter meeting where I brainstormed with chapter mates and drove home listening to a new villain. I’m anxious to create again. I think my new work will be better because I took time to be another part of me.

Did I have writer’s block?  I don’t think so. I believe I just needed to handle the circumstances occurring in my family’s life, and breathe. They are my priority after all.

Have you ever felt like you were failing because you didn’t have the time or energy to write? If so, what did you do?

(BTW, I’m at the day job until later this afternoon, but I will response to you as soon as I can.)

15 responses to “Breathing Is Necessary”

  1. Addison Fox says:

    AJ – this is such a beautiful post. And I think you’ve hit on something so special – giving yourself room to breathe. Creation is a gift but that doesn’t mean that it works in the same way other things in our life do.

    No matter how we’re feeling, getting up, putting one foot in front of the other and plodding through a day job can happen on auto pilot. But creating something isn’t like that.

    I’m so happy for you that the characters are speaking again. I can’t wait to read what they have to say!!!


  2. Jennifer Whitney Bray-Weber says:

    Yes. And yes. There are times I feel incredibly guilty because I didn’t—or couldn’t—write. I hate that. Hate that I feel guilty. That I am not one of those people who sit at their screens religiously and write another book. I am at a time in my life where I balance many obligations. Sometimes the squeeze is not worth the juice. So this is a great reminder that it is OKAY to breathe.

    I’m so happy your muse is back. Write on, sister!

    • I know. I often felt guilty which only made my angst greater. I had to leave the guilt go and when I finally did I felt much better.

      My characters certainly didn’t want to be in a house of torment. They waited until I was ready to hear from them. Sounds crazy, right?

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Amen to this. I know my urge to write will never leave me for long, but in recent months the juggling act of my life got a bit too intense, and I had to give myself permission not only not to write for awhile, but not to feel guilty about it. That was definitely the right choice psychologically.

      During the WWF, I’m rebuilding a little space for writing (two sprints a week), and I’m loving it. But I know I just can’t afford much more than that right now. And I’m letting that be okay.

  3. Yes! So incredibly important to give yourself the space to breathe without beating yourself up for being human and going through a different phase in your life when writing simply needs to be in the backseat.

    So glad you gave yourself the space and that your characters are talking again. Happy writing, Autumn!

  4. Gwyn says:

    Excellent advice, and well said. It is only recently I’ve felt the urge to create again. Being overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control is crushing. I think our muses high-tail it out of there for self-preservation, more than anything else. Imagine how arid and colorless our lives would become if they, too, were crushed. I’m happy to hear yours has returned home. That shows she believes in you. Me, too.

    • Thank you, Gwen. And I’m so happy to hear your muses have returned home too!

    • Kate Parker says:

      Gwyn and Autumn, I’m so glad your muses have returned. Mine took a holiday over the summer and fall, but when I finally came up for air, my muse returned. Slowly at first, a half hour here and there, until she and I were strong enough to begin working seriously. I hope you find your strength and energy to continue on your writing journey.

  5. Loved your post, Autumn. When our minds are coping with other demands, it’s not surprising our fictional characters stay away. So glad yours are back. Looking forward to reading your next book!


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