The Cost of Not Writing

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Hi everyone!  I’m co-hosting Finish the Sentence Friday this week, along with Kristi Campbell, Kerri Ames, Kelly McKenzie, and Anna Fitfunner. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks.  Since January 28th, I’ve only posted one blog, and that was a late post I wrote for Kerri, about PACS1.  I don’t really feel I can claim credit for writing it, since most of the text was written in Kerrie’s words.  I’m a bit anxious about this post, because I’ve been out of practice and in a writing funk.  It’s true what they say, writing is a discipline and you must practice it daily. 

I’ve locked myself in the office (which has recently been purged – more on that in the future) and lit my favorite candle.  Kid Rock’s new album is softly (kind of an oxymoron, no?) playing in the background.  I’m hoping to conjure up some mojo, to write about the cost of…

AN HOUR LATER:

I got nothing.  How sad is that?  Zilch, nada.  This is particularly embarrassing because guess who came up with this week’s sentence?  Yes, yours truly!  What was I thinking?  Is there anything more uncomfortable to talk/write about than money?  I could go on about how expensive it is to raise kids, but you already know that.  I could further explain that multiplying that number by four kids produces an exorbitant number, but one could point out that it was my choice to have four kids.  Then I thought about the cost of having a special needs child, but it felt like whining and that’s not my thing.  And the number would shock you –we’ve been down way too many autism rabbit holes.

Travel, road trips in particular, can be quite costly.  Yet as expensive as it can be, I consider it to be money well spent.  So that particular topic wouldn’t work for this sentence.  In anticipation of this summer’s road trip, we’ve been cutting back and staying home to save money.  Believe it or not, staying home comes at an expense – food, entertainment and internet shopping that’s done in moments of boredom.  Still, not enough for an essay.

I could address the expenditures of home improvement or health care, but really, that’s playing with fire.  I may not have done a lot of writing in the last few weeks, but I’ve still been reading.  I’ve witnessed more than one blogger write something that they believed was an innocuous personal opinion or recommendation, and consequently was burned at the stake by readers.  No thank you.

I believe that my lack of writing is tied to my winter funk.  I don’t do well in cold weather or with gray skies.  And taking care of the children – all of whom have had the flu over the past month, was hard.  I’m tired and maybe a bit sad.  I long for sunshine, warm weather and adventures.  Too much time cooped up in the house gets the wheels in my brain turning.  And anyone who knows me will agree that too much thinking is not good for me.  To shake myself out of my Seasonal Affect Disorder, I’ve contemplated some grand self-improvement plans.  Well guess what?  Self-improvement costs a hell of a lot of coin!  And let’s face it, if I wrote about how much it costs for me to beat the winter blues, well that would just be narcissistic.

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What to write, what to write…

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THE NEXT DAY:

I’m still unable to zero in on a topic, and I apologize to those of you who are also struggling with this week’s sentence.  I’m not sure if it’s the sentence or ME.  This may be reaching, but what about this:  “I can’t believe how much it costs to not write.”  Obviously, I’m not talking cold hard cash, because let’s face it, my writing certainly does not produce an epic income stream – far from it.  But writing does provide me with an outlet and some cheap therapy.  I don’t share a lot of what I write.  Lucky you, because a fair amount of what I write is crap, a way of venting or blowing off stream.  Or it’s too personal.  And that’s what I think might be at play here.  The personal factor.  It’s no secret to us bloggers that when we get personal, raw, and real, we get the most attention (whether we are seeking it or not).  I have struggled with this quite a bit.  I’m so afraid to really open up, for fear of judgment, backlash, or plain old pity, so I avoid it.  But recently I did take a leap of faith and bleed on the page by writing two very personal essays, one of which was published and one of which is still in limbo.

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I’ve been wondering if the emotional toll it took to write and share those essays has affected my writing.  Does that make sense?  Combine that trepidation with the flu (me), a house full of sick kids, and weeks of cold temps and gray skies, and well, you have the perfect storm to not write. I had to cancel my Listen to Your Mother audition, because I had a 102 degree fever. I also missed the #1000Speeak for Compassion link up.  I couldn’t come up with one example of compassion to write about!  I actually feel shame over that one, because my life is full of compassion.  I read beautiful posts written by my friends and felt unworthy.

I also read snarky, cruel comments from readers about a litany of topics and felt sick to my stomach and wondered, what’s the point?

Rather than write and take risks, I read.  I read a ton, and listened to quite a few audio books.  In the last two months I’ve consumed 24 books and it was heaven.  And only two of them were for reviews, which was even more liberating. I started to wonder if I should try writing fiction again, but that’s all I did, was wonder.  Every time I sat down at the computer, I froze.

I recently watched the podcast (is that what you call it?) of Anne Lamott and Kelly Corrigan and had an aha moment.  Oh Anne Lamott, you are the queen of my aha moments.  As she did in Bird by Bird (one of my all-time favorite reads), she extolled the importance of doing the work and writing crappy first drafts.  Just write, just write, just write.  It’s so simple.  The more we write, the better we get.  I know this! This has been the longest stretch I’ve gone without writing in years.  Even when I’m on the road, I write.  Writing makes me happy and all I have to do to remember is type, even if it is a crappy first draft.  When I get in the “zone,” I experience something similar to a runner’s high.  It’s exercise for my soul. The cost of not writing, even as immeasurable as it is, is too great.

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Keep calm and write on!

BlogHopButton[1]This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.  This week’s sentence, “I can’t believe how much it costs to…”  I’m cohosting this week, along with my friends Kristi, Kelly and Anna.  Please click on the links below to read their posts.

Kristi of Finding Ninee

Kerri of Diagnosed and Still Oaky

Kelly of Just Typikel

Anna of Fitfunner

39 thoughts on “The Cost of Not Writing”

  1. OMG I so love your brain dump and your thoughts and yes, can so so so so relate. I’ve been in the funk as well. I AM the funk and am in it now. The snow? OMG. So sorry about your flu and all of it. Here’s to us getting more into the groove because I’m so in it as well. Also as you know (and thank you for your kindness on the phone) have dealt with the horrible comments. They would have been paralyzing without people like you.

    1. You do not have to thank me Kristi – that’s what friends are for. Although I am sorry you’re in a funk, it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. And I feel like a wimp, complaining about the Georgia snow, because I know you all have been hammered by the weather. Hang in there – 22 days until spring.

  2. Oh I get this, my friend. It does cost to write or not to write. The bonus of writing (even if it’s not published) is it gets OUT there and puts what you are thinking onto paper (or computer) to validate that whatever you are going through has substance.

    As far as not supporting my PACS1 I call BS. You do in so many ways and I am thankful. So thankful to count you among my friends who are there when it matters.

    1. I’m so glad we connected and became friends, too. You are an inspiration to all special needs moms! I love your passion, and the way you eloquently express your view with your writing.

  3. Ouch. I am sorry you are going through a bad patch. However look at you – writing anyways. Good on you! And yes it does cost to write or not write. By not writing I start to feel guilty and down and then when I plop myself down to write nothing comes. Zilch. However you have turned out a beautiful post today. Keep going Allie. We’re all here and we all understand.

  4. Love this Allie! Love every word. Because it’s so true and you’ve said it so beautifully. I had noticed you were quiet. I’m sorry you weren’t well and had to miss the LTYM audition. And I also couldn’t think of a single thing to write about compassion for days and days. We know the cost of not writing… and then, you know, life. But the great thing, it’s always there to come back to.
    And now I want to hear how you purged your office!

    1. Ah Nicki, you have made my day. Thank you very much! I promise, I will write about the office, but I just want to give it a couple weeks, to make sure I’ve really changed:)!

  5. You nailed the inadequacy we all feel when we’ve been away from our blogs. I always say it’s like exercise, the longer you’ve been away the harder it is to start again. It’s not like riding a bike. Yes you can jump back on but you still have to get back in your groove.

    Know that you are totally excused. Look at what all you’ve had going on. Sometimes we can write through these times and write with only moments to spare but then other times you’re just exhausted.

    As for me finishing the sentence it just happened to be a kind of right place at the right time moment and honestly I didn’t have time to link up but it was there and I went with it. Best post I’ve ever written? Far from it but it did get the high I needed for writing it which is just what I needed.

    You’ll get your groove back.

  6. Now see? You had me at your first paragraph… when you write, I immediately become engaged. THAT is a gift. I love love love ALL OF THIS POST!!!

    Winter sucks. The flu sucks. Sick kids REALLY suck. And I go through the same elimination process, writer’s block, trying to ‘get back into the game’, questioning how real and raw to get, ETC.

    I love this so much, because it reveals so much of all of us- through what you shared.

    You landed on the PERFECT way to approach the ‘cost’…

    Oh the writer’s high is worth every grueling moment we try and try, isn’t it?

    Keep writing my sweet friend!!! You have a gift, worth sharing.

    Remember that, mkay?

    1. Chris, you are so good for my ego. And yes, the high is worth the cost and effort (although that certainly sounds sinister, no?). Thank you for sharing this on FB, too. I really appreciate it.

  7. I relate! One thing you wrote really struck a chord with me and that was that you wrote two very personal posts. I can tell you that I wrote a really pesonal one relating to abuse from my father as a child. I worked with a great editor at Blunt Moms and when we were done with it, she said, “Are you ready to share this with the Universe?” I swallowed, took a deep breath and said, “Publish it.” I got amazing support which was wonderful but I will tell you that although it was cathartic, it drained me for the next couple of weeks. I continued to write and am fortunate that I also write poetry and that is where I seem to go to “heal”. Then, I had to do a Vlog for an assignment and went rogue and dressed up in a crazy outfit, but in some of those horrible Halloween teeth (nasty bucktooth looking things) and recorded my Vlog as this country woman. It was very silly but it helped me snap out of my vulnerable and self protection mode. I am also in snow and the land of gray but hey, Daylight Savings Time starts in a couple of weeks. Hang in there! I think what you wrote was amazing and something all writers experience at times and on top of it, you have had your hands so full with “real” life. Your home and yard look amazing and the sun will be shining on you soon!!! xoxoxo

    1. “Are you ready to share this with the universe?” Oh the eternal question for a writer! And yes, I think the DST will have a positive effect of me, as well. On another good note – my daffodils are peeking up from the ground!

  8. haha…I like how you opened your mind out to us with regards to attempting to write this prompt 😛

    I too was debating on what issue to cover…then when i closed my mind…i read it…read that it was worrying about my kid, and his issues…voila there penned down something over it 😉

    Wishing you a speedy recovery from all the emotional and physical brunt…hope the weather warms that side
    xoxo

  9. Allie, I think that working out a writer’s block comes from just writing anything. At least it’s that way for me. When I put really high expectations on my writing (which happens most of the time), it gets to be much harder to actually type words out on the page. I wind up creating my writer’s block. So lately, I just write. If it is crap, then so be it. If I think that it is wonderful, then so be that.

    Hope that you will work yourself into a better, more productive place in whatever way makes sense for you!

  10. I got the winter funk too, although instead of reading a ton of books, I got lost in Netflix. The wonderful thing about blogging and writing is that you can come back when you are ready. You have a community, and we are here to read when you are here to publish. I hope you start writing more since it is clearly something that feeds your soul!

    1. I plan to get lost in Netflix as soon as Rich’s uncle leaves (he’s visiting us this weekend form D.C.). House of Cards is out and it’s killing me that I can’t spend all weekend binge watching! It won’t necessarily feed my soul, but it’ll be fun.

  11. It sounds like in the end the prompt did work for you! I really enjoyed reading the whole story behind this post. Sometimes some of the most interesting blog posts are the ones that give you a look into our thought process. I hope you are able to find more time to exercise your soul :-)

  12. Ok, this post wound up awesome anyway. Just so honest. I have the major winter blues. Both kids got sick and I’m so bummed lately and marriage is BLAH, and to fix all of this costs money. Healthcare, counseling, seasonal affective disorder lamps.
    I think the spring will bring its own therapy.
    And the flu was really bad and widespread this year. I can’t remember ever knowing this many families who got it.

    1. I bet you have the winter blue! I just heard this morning that yet another snow storm is heading to the Boston area. IS that true?! Oh momma, I think I would lose it. Agree with the spring therapy – at least I hope it gives us some relief. But you are not alone in blah!

  13. I can definitely relate to the funk…I don’t have the weather to blame here, not really. I haven’t really dealt with real writer’s block, knock wood, but I can definitely relate to the writing as therapy and writing “crap” that no one gets to read. Take it easy on yourself, mama. Hope you get to feeling better and loved your pictures of the snow.

    1. Jill, reading all my comments, it’s unanimous – everyone has or is in the funk. Come on spring!!!! Thank you for you comment about the pictures. It was pretty – and gone the next day. AH, snow in the south.

  14. I SO agree with you, Allie, about writing being a form of cheap therapy. I always quote another blogging friend, Jane at Nothing by the Book, who once perfectly summarized writing as her prayer and meditation. I thought it was so accurate. And as for cruel comments, once again completely with you on that one too. I was shocked once when one of my posts ran on a very popular website at the outpour of hatred I got for telling my story of debating the ramifications of going back to work. Kind of turned me off from wanting to go viral ever again.

    1. I love that, prayer and meditation. Perfect. As for the other post – I am so sorry. Yes, the stupid, stupid working mothers vs. SAHM battle is awful. I’m tired of it.

  15. I really love this post, Allie. I have always told my students – and myself – that if you can’t think of anything to write, write about that!
    We’ve all had that funk, that dry spot (or whatever else we can call it) for any number of reasons. I think you did a beautiful job here. Hang in there – spring HAS to get here sooner or later!

  16. Hope you’re all better and the weather improves for you. You’ve done it again. You’ve encouraged me to start writing again. I got pretty discouraged for a time, but I’m gonna go for it . . . again. Thank you, my dear friend.

    1. Everyone’s better – and ready for spring (but first bracing for a week’s worth of rain! And get back to writing:). Planning to be in Naples in July – hope you’ll be around.

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