Writing myself sane

As writers, we know how solitary our passion is. We write in isolation, and during normal times, we break up the solitude by visiting with friends, having a life away from the computer, taking our pets to the park, …all the wonderful silly things we never thought we’d miss. Until the pandemic came along.

Now we struggle to get our daily words written, even though the number of distractions we used to disparage are no longer present. We have nothing but our computers for company for most of the day. Why can’t we stay upbeat enough to pump those words out? It’s not like our story-telling minds aren’t creating new tales all the time. We can’t type fast enough to get all those stories on paper (or screen or file). It’s disturbing to realize that even without distractions, we can flounder in our pursuit of writing another thousand words.

The creativity we normally use in our books and stories is being chipped away as we try of think of ways to cheer ourselves up. What can we do? Well-meaning friends advise us to take a break from writing. What they don’t understand is that for many of us, we have to write. If we don’t put those stories into words, we lie awake nights as they unfold in our minds, demanding our attention. But will my book ever get finished? I’ve stalled and can’t face another blank page.

Here’s an idea to cheer you up. It’s a version of goal setting, but it will let your mind take flights of fancy and light that candle of inspiration again. Get some 8 x 10 frames. Nothing fancy. Check the dollar stores. Maybe six plain black frames will do it.

For each frame, create a mock book cover. It doesn’t have to be fancy or professional. The first time I tried this, I drew them by hand and colored them with Crayola Crayons. Include the title of the book you want to write, or the one you’re working on now. Don’t agonize over a choice of title. It will probably change before publication anyway. If you can’t think of anything, just use Book One, Book Two, and so on. Play with fonts on your computer. Create eye-pleasing, big-lettered titles. While you’re at it, put your pen name on the cover. You can even add flourishes like “Million Seller” or “New York Times Bestselling Author.” These covers are inspirational. No one will see them but you. Put one in each frame and hang them on your office wall to remind you of your big dreams and goals. A big plus to this method is that you can feel like you are working on your book even when you’re not writing, because hey, you need to make your cover mockup, right?

This kind of optimism can really cheer you up. On those days when you don’t think you can write any words at all, there’s the mock cover of your book, hanging on your wall, reminding you of your initial excitement about that story and the future you imagined for it.

After I publish a title, I frame a copy of my professional cover to remind me of my accomplishment and cheer me on to the next.

For more ideas on Being Your Own Cheerleader, check out my self-help for writers book. Or just keep reading my blogs.