There is actually a place near the equator named the Doldrums. Because of shifting winds and calm spots in the area, a sailboat caught in the Doldrums could be stranded for days due to lack of wind. When we’re caught in the writing doldrums, our writing boat is stranded for days too.
What causes this? The Doldrums near the equator are caused by alternating calms and squalls. Super highs and super lows. Hyperactivity and then no activity.
That’s exactly what causes the writing doldrums too.
The cycling back and forth between hyperactivity and doldrums is where many of us live. NOTE: the hyperactivity can be writing-related or nonwriting activity. Writerly hyperactivity includes writing marathons for ten hours, getting caught up in the Twitter-Facebook-LinkedIn-Pinterest-blog frenzy, and other ways of operating in hyper-drive. Nonwriting hyperactivity can be rushing from one kids’ activity to another while juggling your day job, a birthday party, a sick parent, and your aerobics class.
Either way, you’re too busy and out of balance. This always–and I do mean ALWAYS–is followed by the doldrums where you just can’t make yourself do a thing. (Partly it’s nature’s way of making you slow down and rest.)
Is this your pattern? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the time spent in the doldrums effectively wipes out how much you gained during the hyper, super active times.
Do you get tired of crashing, of having days of no productivity that follow your super productive days? After the flurry of frenzied activity that accompanies your adrenaline rush, your bodies, minds, emotions and spirits shut down. This can be prevented though!
It takes daily discipline, but it can be done. And oddly enough, the discipline that’s called for is slowing down. You want to avoid the hyperactive days–be they writing or nonwriting hyper days–so that the doldrums don’t automatically follow.
To avoid the crash, you have to avoid the frantic days that precede it.
Balance and Pacing
If you want to have a writing career that will go the distance, your best bet is to avoid the extreme highs so you can avoid the extreme lows. Even if you can write five straight hours, it’s better for most people to stop after two hours and take a break. Do something else, something physical. Change gears. Let the adrenaline subside. You can write again later if you have time.
If you’re hyper in the nonwriting world, it may mean saying “no” a lot more often. Not everyone who asks for your assistance needs it nearly as much as you need to stop and take a few deep breaths and relax. Most of us have such an automatic “yes” that we don’t even stop to think or pray about the request. It’s only later–when we’re up till midnight trying to get our own things done–that we realize we agreed to something that we should have declined.
The writers who last, who keep producing quality writing, are usually those who have found a way to stay on an even keel most of the time. Then they can write daily, produce pages that add up over time, and still have a balanced life away from the keyboard.
Give yourself permission to get out of hyper drive, and thus avoid the writing doldrums. You’re the only one who can make that change. I urge you–and ME–to begin today.