There are definitely times when I cannot write. From mid-November till January, I didn’t even try to write–I was ill and then recovering from surgery. I generally take the Hebrew month of Nissan off, first to prepare for Passover, then to celebrate it, then to recover from it. And my husband reminds me that every late fall-early winter I have a slump because I’m sensitive to the diminished sunlight.
However, I’ve discovered that one of the best things I can do for my mental health when things are super chaotic in the outside world is to realize that I have a limited ability to fix the outside world. I cannot halt the war in Ukraine, I cannot shut up antisemites, I cannot save all the women of Afghanistan from the Taliban. I cannot house everyone sleeping on the streets, nor can I singlehandedly stop racism.
I can donate to charity, I can lend a hand to help a worthy cause, I can pray…but if I think about all the war, famine, loss in the world WHEN I CAN DO NOTHING TO FIX IT, then I’m just making myself depressed or anxious with no purpose. It’s not just me–it’s something a lot of creative types struggle with. I think this is especially true because 1) creative types are often very empathic, and 2) creative types need a relaxed mind to produce work. And the saddest part is that when we spend our hours worrying, rather than taking steps to fulfill our goals, we start feeling guilty for being “slackers” on top of everything else.
Directing my energy towards things I can control (or at least partly control) is more productive. And one of those things is my creative work.
I was feeling kinda down and overwhelmed about a month ago, and part of it was the Winter Blahs and part of it was a series of rejections and part of it was outside problems I couldn’t control infiltrating my mind. I’m reminding myself a lot lately that it’s not worth dwelling on what I can’t control (wars, rejections by other people).
The good news is that limiting news consumption (less than an hour of NPR a day) is helping. Getting sleep and exercise is helping. And sitting with a notebook and a pen and brainstorming helps, too.
Thank God, and bli ayin hara, I’m working on two writing projects right now. I’ve got renewed energy and we’ll see if these books come to fruition.