I’m baaaaack…

I’m still not entirely back into my writing schedule, but Passover is over, and the kids are back in school.

Returning to writing after a yom tov is always a bit sketchy, but Passover is the worst. The prolonged break — due to the need to clean for the holiday, shop, plan and cook the meals, and then celebrate the entire 8 days — somehow transforms my brain. It doesn’t act like a writer’s brain does anymore. I almost feel like I am not myself. Not in a sad way, in an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” way. Like I’m a different person at this time of year.

Thank G-d, I’ve had a little editing work to get me at my desk, and that means I have been somewhat productive the last two days. And I know from the past that, eventually, the writing will come. It better: I’ve got a book review to write tonight or tomorrow, and then I would like to return to my latest project.

I keep thinking about my “not writing” brain, which appears sporadically throughout the year. Even on Shabbos, my brain doesn’t switch to this state, at least, not entirely. Vacations sometimes do it even when not accompanied by religious holidays. Prolonged contact with my kids, and the need to take care of them with few breaks, often flips the switch.

In my “not writing” phase, I don’t really get many writing ideas, and if an idea somehow confronts me, I don’t feel an immediate impulse to get it down, which is my usual reaction to a good idea. I often feel preoccupied by housework in this state, not just by necessity (a holiday looming just ahead or guests on the way) but because I actually crave it. In a down moment, I find myself repairing the torn knee of my 9 year-old’s pants, not scribbling a poem in my notebook.

It’s different than being “blocked.” If I’m blocked, it’s distressing. If I’m blocked, I WANT to write, or at least to be able to say I’ve written something at the end of the day, but the words aren’t coming. On the other hand, when I’m just “not writing,” I don’t care if I didn’t write. It’s like I’m not a writer any more.

Does anyone else ever get this way? Just temporarily?

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3 thoughts on “I’m baaaaack…

  1. I actually used an experience during the Passover vacation to fuel my writing. G-d willing, it will be the feature of an upcoming blog post.

    The phenomenon that you describe is actually a good thing: complete disengagement from your career when you’re on vacation. Writing is a career for you, not a side venture; it’s healthy and necessary to focus fully on writing at your scheduled times and to disengage fully from it during off-times. Read a book entitled The Power of Full Engagement, which discusses strategic disengagement.

    An aside: You may want to consider using “author” rather than “writer” to identify yourself. Actual research has shown that people take “authors” more seriously than “writers.” Just a friendly suggestion from a reader who truly admires your work.

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  2. Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes. Because of all the upheaval in our lives (good upheaval, but, still disruptive) due to putting our house on the market, moving, Pesach, and now the upcoming family wedding, I have not written for anything except my little blog for a while. I have a few venues I really, really want to write for, and have some ideas that have been bouncing around, but just cannot seem to sit down and write. It’s very frustrating, and I’m trying to stop kicking myself for not writing and just make the time already (note that I’m reading and commenting on blogs. But I also have a two-year-old on my lap, and find it hard to do creative work with little people right on me. Or is that just an excuse? AHHHHHHHHHH).

    I got chizzuk from Nathaniel’s comment though. Instead of viewing it as a cessation of my writing, I’ll view it as a necessary respite. 🙂

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