This has been a pretty rough couple of years for me. Back in 2008, I moved to Tulsa. I had a job and eventually an apartment and people who could help me out. The job was great. I had a lot of down time, they let me bring my laptop to work, and as long as I focused on customers when I needed to, I could write. I got a lot done. I wrote a novel.
Then, the contract ended. I was already looking for work before that because I saw the writing on the wall. Out with the old, in with the new sort of thing. Luckily I had something else lined up. It didn’t turn out to be that lucky.
It was a soul devouring job. I worked long hours, 6-7 days a week and made very little money because I worked entirely on commission. Side note here, fellow writers, if you don’t have a bunch of money saved up, don’t take a commission only job or go 100% freelance. You’ll starve, even if you’re really good. It takes the money too long to roll in.
I didn’t really write during this time, not as much as I could have. I was too tired and too stressed. I finally had to quit after a total nervous breakdown.
More time unemployed, but some writing.
Finally, I got yet another job. One that I thought would be perfect. It took care of its people. Great benefits, opportunities for advancement, friendly, caring people. Perfect right? Only if you like working for control freaks. There was no down time, non work related activities were discouraged and the only opportunities for advancement were in areas I was totally disinterested in. Another job gone.
During that time, I was completely unable to write. I would stare at the monitor for hours with nothing. I had no desire, no will, nothing. My employers zapped it out of me. At least when I was working on commission, I could write a little bit. I think I wrote maybe one short story before they ate my soul.
Once I was away from the job, I still couldn’t write. I was stressed out and worn out. Eventually, I forced myself to write little bits here and there. 100 words, 500 words, 10 words. Something, anything.
The Greeks had it right when they used entertainment for catharsis. I sat down today and watched some dramas; Ballet Shoes and Seven Pounds. Let me tell you something. When you are stressed out, beaten down, and depressed, a good tearjerker will either put you deeper in or perk you up. Can’t write because you’re too sad/stressed/angry/etc? Watch an emotional movie, go for a walk, pump some iron. Get it out. For me it was watching a suicidal Will Smith. And it helped tremendously. Writing, I missed you.