Seasonal Writing Disorder

photo by Flickr’s OlivierJD

A lot of writers deal with depression. I’ve never stated it outright, but I am one of those writers. Fortunately, my depression is seasonal. Even during the worst bouts, I still have the ability to function day to day. It’s more like an itch I can’t scratch than a broken hip. Sometimes the itch is all I can focus on, and this hinders me, but it doesn’t cripple me.

I used to get down on myself if I didn’t hold to the mantra that you must “write every day.” And of course, this self-deprecating attitude would lead to more depression and lower productivity. But writing is far too personal to generalize like that. Still, it took me some time to be okay with my own process. It wasn’t until I stepped out of the current moment in time and looked at myself in terms of a whole year here, a whole year there, that things finally, blessedly, clicked into place.

I am a seasonal writer. There are large chunks of time–days or weeks at a stretch–that I do little to no writing at all. And when I do write during those dark days, rarely do I finish what I start. Sometimes it is not even worth saving, let alone pursuing publication.

These low periods are balanced out by the highs. The months when I am finishing everything I start, while also reading stacks of books every night, multitasking work and home, family-ing, day-job-ing, and rescuing puppies on the side. If I didn’t know so much about bipolar from being married to someone with bipolar, I’d think I was bipolar. But I’m not. I am a victim of the earth’s annual weather cycle in the region that I live. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, and it pretty much rules my writing process.

Does this mean I am not a professional writer? No. It means I have a mental circumstance to work around. My skill is not dependent upon living in an ideal situation, and neither should anyone’s be. But all of our circumstances are different, so each of us must learn how to embrace our own process, and how to not compare it to anyone else’s.

In the chaos, I found order. I found the reason my process works for me.

March/April/May [Read more…]

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About Lydia Sharp

Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) is a YA novelist and an Assistant Editor with Entangled Publishing. She has been a contributor to Writer Unboxed since 2010. For all the places you can connect with Lydia, and find her books, please visit her website.

Uncaged: The Hottest Tweet-Links of August

 

Uncaged Writer Unboxed
graphic design by Liam Walsh

 

In the past month, we of the Writer Unboxed Twitter Team have implemented some exciting changes. Currently there are five of us working together EVERY DAY to bring you the most beneficial links from around the writing and publishing world–Therese Walsh, Heather Webb, Lara McKusky Taylor, Denise Falvo, and Lydia Sharp.

Our monthly round-up here on the blog is a careful selection of links taken directly from our Twitter feed. Unfortunately we can’t cover everything here. Don’t want to miss a beat? Follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter HERE. Looking for a specific area of interest? We’ve got that too! Our new hashtags make finding what you need even easier:

#WUCraft – everything about the craft of writing  from pros in the industry

#WUSocMed – social media tips and updates

#WUPromo – tips on marketing and promotion

#WUAgent – literary agent news and spotlights

#WUPrint – traditional pub news, trends, tips

#WUDigital – digital pub news, ebook trends

#WUInspire – motivational boosts from pros in the industry

Is there something else you’d like to see from us? Please let us know in the comments. We are always looking for ways to improve how we serve your needs. Now, onto this month’s round-up!

Back to School for Writers

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About Lydia Sharp

Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) is a YA novelist and an Assistant Editor with Entangled Publishing. She has been a contributor to Writer Unboxed since 2010. For all the places you can connect with Lydia, and find her books, please visit her website.

Everything I Thneed to Know About Writing and Publishing I Learned from THE LORAX

ABCSchool is officially out for the summer in my part of the world. For those of us who are parents working mostly from home, this is both a joy and a curse. I love having my son home with me, but it is much more difficult to work. Which is approximately 56 hours of any given day. Living in a single-level, two-bedroom apartment only exacerbates the issue, especially when my son decides to watch his movies at full volume in the room adjacent to my “office”, aka this sad little corner of my kitchen table. There is not even a wall between my work space and the living room.

Despite the insta-migraine this creates, my brain adapts to the situation by attempting to make every bit of data it collects from my environment relevant to my work. A few days ago, my son was watching The Lorax, which is a brilliant movie based on a brilliant book. But it’s very colorful and loud and not very conducive to the quiet time required to get my work done. After I’d downed a shot of Excedrin between jovial exclamations of “Thneedville! Thneedville!” the mind meld began. Everything I saw and heard in the other room was suddenly relevant to what I was doing in my sad little corner of writing and editing.

 

1. When a story begins with seemingly happy characters in a seemingly perfect world, there had better be Utter Doom ahead.

2. According to O’Hare Air, people will buy anything in a plastic bottle. So put your books in plastic bottles and watch your sales soar!

3. Don’t let anything stand in the way of your author dreams. Unless those dreams require deforestation. In that case, eBooks!

4. When the going gets tough, the tough eat marshmallows.

5. The Once-ler repeatedly cut his story short and told Ted that if he wanted the rest of the story he’d have to come back another day. Give the reader what they want, but not all at once. Holding back the juicy bits until just the right moment can draw out the tension.

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About Lydia Sharp

Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) is a YA novelist and an Assistant Editor with Entangled Publishing. She has been a contributor to Writer Unboxed since 2010. For all the places you can connect with Lydia, and find her books, please visit her website.

Lessons Learned from the Original Star Wars Trilogy to Up Your Writing Game

strike a match“It’s called picking up the game, people. So from now on, every. Single. Story that we do is gonna have to be sensational. We’re gonna me more aggressive. We’re gonna work harder. And we’re gonna do it right now.”

When Rachel McAdams’ character said the above quote in Morning Glory, her crew behind the scenes of Daybreak were in a desperate situation. They had two choices–either pick up their game or the morning show would be canceled.

As a new author in today’s era of publishing, I feel like I’m in the same desperate situation. To make any kind of headway in your career, or even just stay afloat, every story you submit for publication has to be sensational. And whether or not you are published yet, it’s time to pick up your game right now. Light a fire under your own ass.

So, as any professional author would, I put on my R2-D2 panties and watched every episode of the original Star Wars trilogy back to back to back, drowning my writerly insecurities in buckets of popcorn, until somewhere between Tatooine and Endor, the answers hit me.

Lesson #1 from Episode IV — Start in the middle.

The advice to “start as late as possible” in your story is nothing new, and it is sound advice. But that wasn’t good enough for Star Wars. The saga starts in the middle with episode four, not one. Even the title itself–A New Hope–makes it clear we missed something significantly tragic. Did this hinder the audience of 1977 from being fully engaged in the story? Not at all.

When we are dropped into something in progress, the automatic response is to start questioning. If the opening has forward movement despite the unknown, this questioning leads to intrigue. And instead of trudging through a swamp of setup, we are immediately immersed in a fleshed-out world with fleshed-out characters, each opposing side already in pursuit of something vitally important to them.

The result? We want to know what happens next AND we want to know how things came to be this way, so we continue on to find out.

Lesson #2 from Episode V — Destroy everything.

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About Lydia Sharp

Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) is a YA novelist and an Assistant Editor with Entangled Publishing. She has been a contributor to Writer Unboxed since 2010. For all the places you can connect with Lydia, and find her books, please visit her website.

Sometimes the Sun Shines When It’s Raining

At the time I thought of writing this post, I didn’t know we’d be on the tail end of Frankenstorm when it aired. So perhaps it was fate that made me ditch the first ten or so post ideas I had before deciding on something that is, ultimately, a painful reflection on one of the darkest periods of my writing career thus far. But this isn’t meant to be a downer, that’s not my style. Chin up, fair writers. Sometimes we need the dark to appreciate the light, or a cold, hard rain to appreciate a warm embrace from the sun.

The journey to publication has felt like an unending storm with several eyes of calm that like to tease you long enough to restore your hope and motivation, then disappear again. So many things have changed even in the short time since I’ve begun. You must blog–it doesn’t matter if you blog. You must tweet–it doesn’t matter if you tweet. You must join Facebook–it doesn’t matter if you join Facebook. This critique partner loves your opening, that beta reader hates it. Print versus ePub, agent versus indie, traditional versus self-pub… I lost my sanity long ago. Only the craziest of us have stuck it out.

These things rain down on us, daily. Sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a torrent. Personally, the entire year of 2011 felt like a flood of confusion, and most of it came from my own head. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the year I’d reached a crossroads in my writing journey. One way led to immediate failure (giving up), the other led to success (at some indistinct point in the future). I’m sure every writer comes to this junction at some time or another. Perhaps even several times.

The most unfortunate part of this crossroads is that it finds you at your weakest. [Read more…]

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About Lydia Sharp

Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) is a YA novelist and an Assistant Editor with Entangled Publishing. She has been a contributor to Writer Unboxed since 2010. For all the places you can connect with Lydia, and find her books, please visit her website.