Staying Down in the Creative Depth

I write (or revise) about twenty to thirty hours a week, whether it be at night, during the day, evening, whenever. I own a gardening business where I can (blessedly) set my own schedule. I take weekends off as I try to take care of household chores and tend my own garden and spend time with my family and animals. But when I’m away from writing for just even a few days, whether it’s due to work or my own self-inflicted break, I find it’s sometimes difficult to get back in the rhythm. Why is that?

I feel untethered. It’s like I float to the surface of my imagination, into bright clear waters, where I can see the sunlight, whereas during writing time (or revising time), I’m tied down to the bottom of my imagination, in deep murky water where the film of the story plays in my mind. It’s just a silly little metaphor I can’t escape. I don’t know if I’m tied to the rope or holding onto it with one hand. But I do know that climbing back down after being up requires a settling I sometimes procrastinate, that quieting of the mind, the silence, the solitude. Shifting from a discussion of perennials or the energy of running kids or laughter with friends to a mute, dreamy place requires discipline and severe effort.

I realize that the time away helps recharge the muse. It’s actually in some respects a refilling of my creative subconscious tank. I read, I observe people, I experience new things, I learn stuff, I notice behaviors, speech, color, etc. But the problem is sometimes the voices in my head are fickle and one will tell me that I’m not really a writer, I’m not really serious. Even though I’ve been writing since the mid-’90s. Even though I’ve published stories and articles. Even though I was an editor for years in this field. It’s like I have instant amnesia because I’m not writing at the moment when that voice speaks.

Does anyone else experience a feeling of being untethered when you’re not writing? I’ve spoken to a couple of well-established authors who’ve told me they feel this way sometimes as well. If so, do you have a method of getting back into your rhythm? Do you have a metaphor or symbol that articulates your feelings about it? Also, how do you maintain the identity that you’re a writer when you’re not actually writing for a few days, a week, or even weeks?


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