How to Stop the Psychodramas and Get Your Writing Done

Carol Tice

Too much drama keeps freelance writer from working

“My freelance writing business is in trouble,” Julia told me this week.

“It’s because I get depression, and when I’m depressed, I can’t write.”

This is a big problem, and I think all writers get something similar to Julia’s problem at some point.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this problem. It begins with understanding what the problem really is.

From writing problem to rule-making

Writers love to create rules about what we can accomplish under what circumstances.

For instance, we can’t write if we’re underslept, or it’s after lunchtime (my creative time is early in the day, please!).

Or it’s not sunny out today. Or the neighbor is mowing the lawn right near our window. Or, depending on your personal fixation, unless we have our three antique china pigs sitting on the edge of our desk in a perfect row.

This writer had a rule that she couldn’t write anything when she was depressed.

She tried to write when she was depressed, and it was difficult. Instead of pushing through it or figuring out some ways to cope with it, she began to worry that she could never write when depressed.

Soon, she had created a rule about it in her mind: I cannot write when depressed.

This rule did not create happiness. Quite the opposite — she lived in terror of getting a writing assignment with only a few weeks to complete. If depression hit, she would be unable to write!

So she wasn’t sending query letters anymore. She was frozen. And her dreams of building a viable freelance writing business were in danger of vaporizing.

Coming back to reality

The important thing to realize when we make rules about our writing is that they aren’t real. It’s just an idea that lives inside your head.

It’s not an immutable law of nature, like gravity.

Being depressed does not mean you’ve had a lobotomy, or your arms have been cut off. It is still physically possible for you to write in your less-than-ideal circumstances.

Yes, it might be harder, or take longer. You might need to rewrite more. Because it’s not perfect.

But you can do it.

When you create can’t-write rules around phobias or problems you have, you’re creating a psychodrama. A self-created world of made-up rules that exists only inside your mind. It is not reality.

If you want to be able to write anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, you have to become conscious of this fact. That it’s just a story you’ve told yourself, about why you can’t write.

Then you’re ready to break your made-up writing rules so you can meet clients’ deadlines and earn a living at this.

Action trumps drama

If you’re wondering how I know it’s possible to write under any circumstances, it’s because I’ve had to do it. So many times.

I used to think I definitely could not produce publishable writing if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, for instance. Also if people were yelling at me…it takes me a long time to emotionally recover from that. I couldn’t possibly be expected to write anything that day.

To name just two rules I had.

While I’m thrilled with how my freelance writing life is going, my personal life is not all sunshine. So I often find myself needing to write under less-than-optimal circumstances. Say, while children scream and fight downstairs and my husband handles that in a way other than what I’d do.

Luckily, I have my staff-writing days to pull from for the knowledge that in fact, I can write if I have to. When putting food on the table depends on you turning in four stories every week, you learn to write no matter what.

I have gone into work as a staff writer on one hour of sleep, confident that I Could Not Possibly Turn In My Story.

But somehow, faced with that deadline, I’d drink some tea, or maybe mini-nap with my head on my desk for 10 minutes. Or eat two candy bars.

And by the end of the day, my article would be written.

Do you need to write?

Here’s the magic: Once you challenge your made-up rule and prove it wrong, it dissolves. Its hold on you is lost.

You have to face the truth that your psychodrama was just in your head. It’s an excuse. Not a real thing. You can muscle your way through it and beat it, and get the writing done.

Yes, it’s harder to write when things aren’t perfect. But when are they ever perfect? Right.

So it’s an important skill for freelance writers to learn to bust their self-scripted limitations and write. It’s tough that first time that you slog through writing a story on an hour of sleep…but after that, you never doubt that you can pull it out again. You’re ready to take writing assignments with the confidence that you can deliver, no matter what life throws your way that week.

What’s often missing that allows the psychodrama to win out is the sense that you have to write. It’s important.

You may not have a deadline today, but developing the ability to write on a daily basis is critical to success in any writing field.

Life is short, and you have things you want to tell the world.

Feel that urgency, and man up and do the writing, if you want this to be your career. Even though life sucks today.

What’s your writer psychodrama? Leave a comment and tell us, and then tell us how you overcome it.


  1. Nicole

    While I understand the ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ advice that many people give to those who suffer from depression because they don’t understand it and tend to classify it as ‘drama’ or ‘psychodrama’ or ‘laziness’, instead, it often just shows an utter lack of understanding about what real depression is like. Real depression is incapacitating. It’s not the blues, nor a couple of hours of ‘woe is me.’ Real depression is the inability to even get out of bed, the inability to concentrate, sometimes even the inability to move, never mind the act of retrieving your computer and being able concentrate enough to write. I do understand that you have good intentions to motivate writers who may think that feeling a teensy bit low one day is a good excuse not to write, but beware of making light of those who suffer from depression. It is a debilitating and highly fatal disease, and not something to be made light of. If your friend has true depression issues and it sounds like she does if she lives in fear of being able to meet a deadline when it hits, you basically told her she is lazy when perhaps she is suffering from a debilitating illness. Would you tell a cancer patient who is dealing with pain and nausea from chemo to stop with the psychodrama? Depression is just as real. You should have a talk with your friend and ask her what her depression is really like. People who don’t suffer from it (and I’m not talking about the occasional blues that people normally get) often make light of this devastating and life-altering condition. There is no ‘pushing through it’ with depression. Telling someone to ‘push through it’ when they are depressed makes things worse. You’re telling them they are weak, when the fact that they even get out of bed and move to the couch is a major accomplishment of will. People who suffer from depression are enormously strong by the mere fact that they are still living and functioning at all. Oh, and meditation doesn’t help either so you can skip that advice as well just in case it was brewing (people love saying that to depression sufferers). ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Luana Spinetti

      I hear you, Nicole. ๐Ÿ™ Been through THAT kind of severe depression several times in my life and it’s so debilitating you can’t even eat, let alone put a coherent thought after another. Your mind is completely disconnected. A part of you is aware of what’s going on… but you’re unable to make it work.

      Then there’s depression as a state of sadness, fatigue and stress — I CAN write when I have that kind of depression; it only takes longer, more rewrites and a kind friend who can proofread my work and support me through the anxiety attacks that follow.

      But I can only write or draw art or do anything else when I have the second type of depression… with the first, I’m chained in jail.

    • Carol Tice

      Definitely not telling her she’s lazy…and I suffer from pretty intense bouts of depression myself, so you don’t have to tell me what a black hole it is. Wasn’t planning to tell anyone to meditate to fix it.

      I’m saying if you have a disability like this and you want to be a freelance writer for a living, you’re going to need to find a way to work despite it. Or you’ll have to only be a freelance writer when you’re not depressed.

      I have blogging friends who’re quite successful despite some pretty drastic handicaps — so that’s my point. We all have handicaps of some kind, and if we want to earn a regular income from writing, we have to learn to write despite them.

      • Sudheer

        Dear Carol,

        After reading this post and “A Peek at the Real Life of That Writer You Envy” I understand why your words are so helpful. Thanks! I think I am finally catching the spirit of the den. Starting work on my site now.

        • Carol Tice

          Awesome, Sudheer!

      • Suzanne

        Thank you for this post. This is exactly what I’m feeling today. Tired, unable to concentrate and mildly depressed. I have suffered from depression and I also underwent chemotherapy treatment for cancer while a staff newspaper reporter, in reference to the first comment. And you know what? I wrote through my fatigue. I worked less, but I still covered school board meetings (sometimes while nauseous), wrote articles on deadlines and worked weekends so I could take a couple days off after treatment. As a staff writer, you have that fire because you don’t have a choice. As a freelancer, I’m kinder to myself but somehow I get less done. Interesting.

        • Carol Tice

          Thanks for sharing that great example of writing no matter what, Suzanne!

  2. Sophie Lizard

    Call me a freak, but I often write *more* when I’m feeling stressed or depressed because the act of writing makes me feel better. It takes me longer than usual to produce something publishable under those circumstances, but writing gives me a place in my mind that isn’t full of woe. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      Same here — takes a lot longer. If I’m in emotional trouble, I often warn my husband at the beginning of the day — this is going to take forever, so don’t hold your breath.

    • Stephen Quinn

      Thanks Sophie – I will keep this in mind. I know I definitely feel better after a bout of writing – so maybe this will work even when I’m not in the best frame of mind.

  3. Melissa Weir

    Hi Carol. And Nicole.

    As someone with some experience with this topic (ahem…), I think the motivation for depression sufferers lies somewhere between pushing through and acknowledging that it may be difficult or impossible. If you have depression and can’t function (e.g., get out of bed, feed yourself, take a shower) or, worse, are thinking of harming yourself or someone else, you need medical intervention urgently. Like ER treatment.

    If you are undergoing treatment, part of the therapy of returning to life is pushing through. Sometimes so slowly that to someone else you look like a sloth. And when I say pushing through sometimes all that means to someone with depression is brushing your teeth. Sometimes “pushing through” especially early in treatment, is not successful. And that’s hard to accept. But you have to keep trying. And that’s where Carol’s advice makes sense, even for someone clinically depressed (and in treatment). I think we can surprise ourselves with baby steps sometimes.

    And Nicole is correct. Depression is real, and serious. And fatal. Anyone who has major depression and keeps trying to function is enormously strong. Depression untreated, or not treatable, is hell. When that is the case, depression is a disability and in the US, is a bonafide reason to apply for federal benefits.

    Enjoy the day, everyone.


    • Williesha Morris

      Totally agree! The idea behind depression is that you ultimately *have* to push through in order to get on with life. As a sufferer, this is SO important. Carol isn’t demeaning depression or saying stop being lazy. If you have to have days where you don’t do anything, that’s fine. But it can’t be a definitive rule for not being creative.

      It’s just like athletes who are disabled and don’t let their physical disabilities stop them from being active and playing sports. You can’t let it completely engulf who you are. “Pushing through”, altering your thoughts is indeed part of treatment.

    • Carol Tice

      Also, something to note is that you can’t apply for disability benefits as an owner, only as a worker. While an employee might have the luxury of going on disability for depression, we don’t. It’d be tough to find a business owners’ policy that would cover that, and it’s difficult for solopreneurs working at home to get individual disability insurance as well — I know, because I tried repeatedly and was denied every time.

      Obviously, if someone is depressed to the point of incapacity and/or persistent suicidal thoughts, they need to seek treatment immediately, and it’s not realistic that they’ll be able to do work of any kind. But that wasn’t the vibe I got from this writer, more that it was at a milder level.

      I so agree with you Melissa — baby steps. You have to find your workarounds for coping with whatever you’ve got to deal with if you want to be able to take assignments with confidence that you can deliver.

  4. Luana Spinetti

    I think the ‘psychodramas’ you mention, Carol, relate to that kind of depression that’s mostly about fear of failure and panic attacks. But there is depression and depression and there are times when you really – and I mean, really – can’t write a word after another because your mind is elsewhere. And you’re totally disconnected inside. You don’t even eat, sleep, talk… maybe a part of you still knows how to talk, but your lips don’t move. Or you want to commit suicide. Been there and I’m glad I’m still alive, no matter the relapses.

    P.S. I’ve just read that post you linked here and I’m sorry that you’re going through so much. If there’s one thing I could ‘envy’ in you, that’s the strength of your mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks Luana — as it happens, it’s been a pretty rocky weekend — was glad I didn’t need to work yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I think every writer has days that just become lost work days, where we really can’t get anything done for whatever reason. But in general, we have to find ways to get the work done, whatever our obstacles, to do this for a living.

  5. Willi Morris

    Ohmygodohmygodohmygod Carol! You’ve given me a name for what I have experienced. This is such a perfect post for Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know it’s May? I just read about it. And I was trying to figure out a way to blog about writing through depression. I suppose I could give tips, but this is such a great motivator.

    So many are created as a result of anxiety or depression: I can’t write when I’m famished, haven’t showered, it’s not completely silent, I haven’t read enough books to keep up with my vocabulary, my brain hurts, I’m off my meds/meds don’t work, insert family tragedy (not exaggerating) of the week, my husband is home, I’m away from my husband….the anxious mind is so full, it can’t possibly be filled with creative ideas.

    Thank you. Thank you so much. Of course I’ll share this everywhere this week, but this will be my inspiration for a blog about writing through mental illness.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Willi — sorry, for some reason I just found your comment! I did not know it was mental health month.

      I get the “I’m too sticky to write” thing, too. The rest of my family seems able to go a week without showering, but it makes me feel wretched if I take a walk in the morning and then can’t get a chance to shower until EOD…I’ve only recently learned to suck that up and cope because I never seem to have time to both exercise AND shower during work hours. And I’m not giving up exercising!

  6. Columba Lisa Smith

    My writing psychodrama is I’m too distracted by raising three teens alone. I don’t have the focus, etc. etc. This is a really helpful article! I’m going to make some changes this week. Thanks for your blog; it’s a God-send!

    • Carol Tice

      Glad you found this useful, Columba!

      I had a formative experience early in my career reading a Writer’s Digest article, where the author confided that he usually had to write his columns while two preschoolers played in a large cardboard box under his desk. Obviously, not optimal conditions! But that was his lot — he needed to both supervise kids and write. So he figured out a way.

  7. Sara Eastler

    Carol, your article was just what I needed to read today. Thank you! My “rule” was that I could not write whenever I had an editing job in, like the 900 page monster waiting for me right now. I had lots of good reasons for this…editing is left brain work, writing is right brain work, I’m too stressed w my deadline, etc. But the truth is I can write when I have an editing job in, just not very much…maybe only 100 words in a day, but that’s more than nothing!

    Thank you for this kick in the pants and reality check. Just what the doctor ordered.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad that helped you bust a made-up rule in your head, Sara!

      Try doing the writing first thing in the day before you turn to the editing, or after a break from it…get some separation so your brain can rewire. You might be surprised at how productive you could be if you try shifting around the work blocks.

      The alternative is – take one day a week you’re not working on the editing project, and just write.

      We all have to experiment with our schedules to figure out how to get it done.

      You know, one of my rules used to be that I could only write until lunch. I tend to get logy in the afternoon because I usually only manage about 6 hours of sleep a night.

      Then came social media, which as someone on Pacific time I have to get on early in the day, as I’m already losing 3 hours of East-Coast social media time by the time I get in!

      And you know what? I learned to write in the afternoon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. peachfront

    I never recommend freelance writing as a good career for a person with a chronic medical condition. In that situation, the better choice is a job with good medical benefits. I think we should be careful about advising fragile people to become freelancers. Depression kills. I know people it has killed. Everybody in this thread probably knows people it has killed. I’m reaaalllll uncomfortable with the idea of giving writing advice to someone like “Julia” who may actually need medical help.

    • Luana Spinetti

      That’s why I only take clients that are not too deadline oriented, or that won’t be in trouble if I can’t write according to schedule. My mind has limits and I have to do things slowly.

      But freelancing is still good because you can choose your clients. And as your mental health improves, new work opportunities to work open up. ๐Ÿ™‚

      If I ever reach Carol’s level of ‘success’… then I’ll know most of my health problems are over or have at least improved if compared to the past.

      • Carol Tice

        Great idea for another workaround, Luana — look for clients who you know will be understanding and flexible on deadlines. I always try to have at least one of those in my stable.

        And if you think being a successful writer cures health problems…I got bad news for you there.

        • Luana Spinetti

          Thanks, Carol! ๐Ÿ™‚

          And no, I don’t think being a successful freelancer fixes health problems… but I know that if I reach some of my ‘success’ goals, it’s because I overcame some of my issues (a little example: the day I can publish a short series of videos for my websites, I’ll know my social (speaking) issues are no longer an obstacle).

        • Luana Spinetti

          Sorry, I had to rush out so I submitted an incomplete comment. The other thing I was trying to say is that I admire your strength and confidence in freelancing — you’re successful because of that. I have issues in social relationships and self-esteem (from childhood bullying and an over-sensitive character) and they reflect in my work. So if I ever reach your level… that means most of those issues are gone or redimensioned. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      Obviously, I’m not a doctor, Elaine, and if she needs one I would urge her to see medical attention.

      I agree with you, if you have depression to a disabling level, or any other disability, there are real challenges to going into business for yourself, because you have challenges seeking medical care and obtaining disability.

  9. Miriam Ruff

    I know from depression, but my most crippling “psychodrama” is constant pain. First it was a 15 1/2-year migraine, now it’s fibromyalgia. And if I take something to control the pain, I end up in what’s known as “fibro fog,” where I literally can’t focus on anything. I’ve been training myself to write through it all, nonetheless, but I’d never tell anyone it’s easy or success will happen immediately. If you can get out one sentence, one paragraph, an outline, or even a general idea of how you want to proceed, you’re taking that very necessary first step toward making the writing happen. Persistence is the key. Keep doing it until, even if it doesn’t become comfortable, it becomes routine.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for sharing how you’ve overcome it, Miriam! I agree that it’s about developing routines that allow you to cope and write despite what you’ve got to deal with.

  10. Adrienne Andreae

    While I know many writers work through major problems, many of these psychodramas are much smaller dramas weโ€™ve exaggerated for ourselves. I hear writers saying all the time about how they can only write twenty minutes at a time or in the morning or after theyโ€™ve exercised.

    If I am honest with myself, most of my psychodramas are spoiled rotten dramas. I live in southwest Florida where the weather allows me to write from my patio for at least a couple of hours every day year round. On Friday, it was gloomy and rainy all day. I decided I canโ€™t write if itโ€™s going to rain all day! Thatโ€™s just crazy! Hence, here I am on my patio working on Sunday. (I used to not be able to write on Sundays, but you know, sometimes psychodramas collide and become psychonovas.)

    • Carol Tice

      Ha, psychonovas! I think my daughter had one of those Friday night. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’m from L.A., where I had the same ‘rain shuts everything down’ attitude. Then I moved to Seattle. Now, to me rain means “time to settle down and get to work!”

      Really, we can write indoors.

      My problem now is when it’s sunny and warm! So rare here, I tend to come down with ‘trapped animal syndrome’ and feel unwilling to stick to my schedule, and choose a walk. Of course, I think doing that now and then is healthy, not a problem. But if I did it every time or concluded that I can’t write if it’s a nice day out, it would be a b.s. drama.

  11. Samantha

    This hit me where it counts today.

    A saying that’s helped me is “The opposite of depression is expression.” There’s something about just getting stuff out of your head that is therapeutic, independently of whether that stuff is “good writing.” The key is thinking of the physical act of writing as a victory in itself – an act of defiance, *however* it turns out. Very often it turns out better that you might have expected anyway.

    On the justifiable concerns of some readers that Carol is not addressing serious clinical depression: I had the same reaction at first to a book that Linda Formicelli recommended in an online chat: Get It Done When You’re Depressed by Julie A. Fast. No one can argue that this author doesn’t “get” serious depression. In fact I can swallow her advice only because she knows…she knows, trust me. I do think that there are people who really are at the point of incapacitation, but as depression exists on a spectrum it’s worth considering Carol and Julie Fast’s advice.

  12. Carolyn

    Thank you so much for this article, Carol. I feel like it speaks to me directly, as I’ve faced this “I can’t write because..” dilemma countless times, particularly in the face of crazy deadlines.

    But one thing I’d like to bring up, which I feel is often left out, is depression’s fraternal twin: mania. Sometimes, instead of not being able to do or think of anything because everything moves so slowly, your mind is in hyperdrive, with thoughts flying at a million miles an hour, and you can’t slow anything down long enough to put anything legible to a piece of paper. It can be just as debilitating as depression, but no one ever thinks to talk about it. As someone who often struggles with both sides of the equation, I think it definitely merits being thought about too, as it can get to me just as bad as any bout of depression can. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for raising that, Carolyn — certainly there are any number of mental-health issues that can make it hard to write.

      The one I used to have was, “I’m freaking out because I can see now that I have not left enough time to meet this deadline, and it’s never going to work!” And I’d be panicked.

      Then, inevitably, the next day I’d wake up an hour or two earlier than usual, and go write it. Somehow, the universe usually helps you find the time you need, if you seek it.

      • Carolyn

        So true. Definitely have been there as well! I actually all too often find that I have underestimated how much time it would take for me to complete an assignment–which then inevitably moves into panic and “Ican’twriteIcan’twrite” mode. How did you start figuring out a better way to determine how much time you might actually need to do an assignment to prevent that panic/psychodrama from ever setting in? Advice would be very much appreciated (for me and for others as well, I imagine). ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Columba Lisa Smith

    I found out that Laura Hillenbrand wrote her fantastic bio about Louis Zamperini over about seven years, I think, due to a debilitating chronic illness. I found that inspiring.

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly. If you won’t give up no matter what, you find a way to keep writing. And then eventually, it gets done. I live on an island and no more than one writer who’s written and published a novel they wrote during their boat commutes over a multi-year period, 30 minutes at a time.

  14. Christine

    I so, so needed to see this today.

    I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to my writing action list when things have settled down. I’m a single mom with an adult child on the spectrum and, the truth? It may never “settle down”. I know I can make better use of the time I have by focusing less on the swirl if issues and more on the writing that has to happen. And I had somehow missed your post about your personal life challenges. Thank you for that. I needed a reminder that I’m not the only one dealing with challenges and that people can, and DO, write through it!

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly. Those of us with kids who may never end up leaving home really need to get that — there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We need to figure out how to get things done today.

  15. Mary

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! All I can say is Thank you. The article was an arrow that bull dozed right to the center of my heart.
    Thank you Again!

  16. Autumn Macarthur

    Thanks for a thought provoking post, Carol!

    I agree with some of the commenters, there’s depression and then there’s DEPRESSION. The deep black hole on the edge of paralysis severe depressions need medical care, stat!

    But the mild and moderate depressions, or the process of recovery from a more severe depression, are helped by setting and meeting small goals. There’s a quantum leap between saying “I can’t write at all,” and “It will be a struggle, but today I’ll write at least one sentence. Even if it’s only a two word sentence. I’m writing.”

    One digs us deeper into the black hole. The other digs the tunnel out of the darkness and back to healing.

    Been there, I know this!

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly…felt like I was dealing with small ‘d’ depression here. Obviously, mega depressed and she probably wouldn’t have been able to do a coaching call with me.

      And I’m with you. Having dealt with severe illness myself, it will take all the oxygen you give it…or you can fight back and reclaim the life you want, inch by inch.

  17. Elke Feuer

    What an inspiring post! I used to tell myself I don’t have time for more projects, however I found time to sit and watch TV when I could’ve been writing.

    Now, I avoid sitting down on the couch after the kids are in bed and the kitchen is clean. I grab my laptop and get straight to work. Another thing I avoid is checking email and FB/Twitter. I do at least 1-2 hours of writing and then do my marketing. That way I avoid the social media vortex. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used to tell myself I needed hours to write, but overcame it by forming new writing habits. I carried a journal with me everywhere so I could make notes or write a scene for the story I was working on. I write every morning before work, lunchtimes, and after kids are gone to bed. On the weekends I write early in the day and spend the rest of the time with my family and housework. It’s not easy, but I know it necessary if I want to accomplish my dream of being a full-time writer.

  18. Darlene


    On my way to work after an incredible weekend, a pressing issue was on my mind. I had to start on my book writing again. There is an unspeakable push for me to write at the present moment and I thought that as soon as I arrived home, I would start.

    I thank you for the article because it was added confirmation to keep jugging along.


  19. Jeremy

    That was a great article for me to read just now. I’ve been making up rules for myself a lot lately about when I can and can’t work. This post reminded me of last May on the morning of our baby son’s memorial service. I wanted to share his story so, with little sleep or energy, I just started writing. I was depressed, had a tight deadline and I was running on not much sleep.

    The story came out just like I hoped it would. I need to remember that experience when I’m feeling boxed in. If I write under those circumstances, I should be able to write under just about any others. No more hard and fast rules about when I “can” or “can’t” work.

    • Carol Tice

      So sorry to hear about your son, Jeremy. But your story illustrates my point beautifully — when we feel we must write something, we do it, even in impossible circumstances.

      The challenge is to capture that feeling of ‘must write’ on a regular basis.

      • Jeremy

        So true.

  20. Erin Sanchez

    Hi Carol,

    I didn’t sleep well last night and I have some big writing projects due. I was just telling myself, “there’s no way I can finish these – I’m too tired!” So instead, I’ve been checking email, reading blogs…you get the idea. Then I read this post and thought about all the “A+” research papers I used to stay up all night to write in college. Ugh, guess it’s time to stop making excuses and get to work.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt!

    • Carol Tice

      Ha, I slept like crap myself, as it happens.

      I’ve developed a whole theory that being underslept can actually help our writing process…going to be the subject of one of my upcoming email-only posts that I send out for my blog subscribers.

      • Erin Sanchez

        Looking forward to reading it!

  21. Steph Weber

    Well, that was the kick in the rear that I needed.

    Psychodrama is the perfect word to explain the crazy back and forth thoughts that bounce through the heads of most writers.

    No matter who you are, there are issues, annoyances, demons, what-have-you that you must deal with. We all struggle with something. It truly is how you react to those “somethings” that create your path.

    Will I slack off on the quality of an assignment just because I’m tired, or sick, or distracted? Nope! I’ll pull it together and knock out high-quality work – even if only long enough to get the work done. Hopefully longer, but you get what I’m saying ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Stephen Quinn

    Thanks for this post, Carol. I didn’t notice before this that I have some self imposed rules about when I can write as well.

    I just thought of these as natural – as part of my flow.

    I didn’t realize how made up they are. One of my favorites is I’m too tired to write.

    So, these “pscychodramas” have lately caused me concern – because what will happen when my writing business gets cranking? Clients are not likely to listen to excuses.

    Also, after some reflection, I realize that I have pushed through to finish an assignment when I am tired – to meet a deadline. For example, my college research papers had to be in on time.

    Interestingly, after reading this article I completed my blogging course, even though I thought I was tired. I now have my “dysfunctional” website / blogsite up – even though it needs a lot of work – as of last night.

    Well, if feels good even to have come this far.

    And, thank you to all the Den participants – I know I could not have done this without all that energetic support.

  23. Nadia McDonald

    I definitely agree with you Carol! There are many obstacles that setbacks the writer. For instance, family circumstances and broken relationships. In my experience, I’ve dealt with situations that made me focus less on my writing and more on my problems. The problem became bigger and consequently it stagnanted progress! Nevertheless, writers have a story to share with the world and that should not be taken for granted!

  24. Lyn

    You know what? This happened to me too. Depression is something that’s hard to fight, but I did it! It’s by acquiring a coping mechanism that can positively turn my worst moods to my best writing mood. One of the things I do to fight my depression is to go out and have a date night with my husband. Seeing other people and having a nice chat with my hubby make my mood light and happy ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Lindsay Wilson

    You’re not kidding! I just did a late shift on a deadline and it was remembering this blog post that got me through the evening and stopped me from slipping into my “rule” that I’ll do a crap job once it hits 11 pm because my brain is tired. (This particular “rule” saw me succumbing to sleep the night before an assignment was due on multiple occasions during college, earning me a sub-standard grade!)

    • Carol Tice

      Haha…my nickname at the business journal was “The Midnight Filer,” because I’d start work at 8 after kids went to bed. There’s a crazy rush to pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do.

      So glad this blog post helped you get it done!

  26. Kimberly

    Thank you, Carol, for sharing your real life writing events. This particular post is very encouraging me. It reminded of times in my past that I had to perform and did.

  27. TC

    If all the tradesman waited for the ideal time to perfect their trade what would the world be like today? I know writing requires more concentration and you need to have your wits about. But the story of the writer you were telling sounds more like an excuse not to do the job in hand. Writers wrote their stories from trenches of WWI.

  28. Joe Bamforth

    Mine is writing after work. I just can’t seem to pick myself up and drag myself to my laptop to write for even half an hour. I know it would help to just get words on the page through the week and I can then tidy it up at the weekend. Maybe I’ll make that my target this week…

  29. k.

    Hi there. good post, Carol! ย And try this: ย you might be perched on a camera box, outside, in the encampment of a news network, ย typing much too slowly on a device you haven’t mastered, about a fast-moving story, in a format you’ve never attempted, and the bit should have been done two hours before. But. You didn’t really know that. People are waiting– and, I’m sure, cursing. you are hungry, with no food around, and no time to even look in your bag and find a stray nut. It wasn’t perfect, but it ย ย got done (on 3 hrs sleep)!

  30. Pinar Tarhan

    I loved this article, Carol! I don’t suffer from depression (but from a variation of it as well as some other annoying stuff) and if I stopped writing every time I felt physically or psychologically terrible, I’d never get anything done. I’d also never get better. It’s different for everyone, but to me, writing is a cure. Sophie understands:):)
    A piece of mine on dealing with depression and rejection was published on Women on Writing. I take inspiration from whatever I can.

    There are times when I can’t do anything, so I do my best to get through them as fast as possible. Connecting with writers with similar issues definitely helps.

    • Carol Tice

      I think we all definitely have times when it’s just not gonna happen — I know I do! I used to just sit there obsessing on it, but now I give up and go do something else. Go smell the roses. Go for a walk. Usually seems to make it resolve faster than sitting there freaking out because you’re not writing.


  1. Lumpy's Corner › Writer’s Links 05/04/2014 (p.m.) - […] How to Stop the Psychodramas and Get Your Writing Done […]

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