I first interviewed Nicole during the early days of this blog, and she was more than generous enough to give me her time and some awesome interview answers.
Today she’s back to talk about her Darkest Hour experience, and she’s got some great advice we can all learn from.
Donna hit the nail on the head with her post – the creative life is a series of darkest hours, and it’s blind faith or sheer bloody stubbornness that gets you through.
I started writing seriously in 2000 and in the sixteen years since, not one has passed without a darkest hour of some sort. Some based solely on the writing eg not selling a single story in a calendar year.
Much Ado About Love
Opposites attract—but that doesn’t mean the road to happy-ever-after runs smooth…
Trix Leon and Ben Anthony have two things in common—they don’t believe in love and, together, they set the sheets on fire. Their relationship is safe, uncomplicated, and just what they both need—until John Aragorn shows up and gives them a third thing in common: an enemy.
When their friends decide it’s time for Trix and Ben to admit to themselves—and each other—how they really feel, Trix and Ben are caught in a whirlwind of emotion, a promise of something more. But Aragorn is determined to destroy everything: Trix’s hard work, her future, and her chance at something more with Ben.
Now Ben and Trix are left fighting for the one thing that neither of them knew they wanted: love.
Others are based on outside influences, eg a family member getting ill.
Yet here I am, with my ninth novel being published and five more contracted.
My most difficult darkest hours have involved a real darkness – depression.
When you’re depressed, writing becomes impossible. You can’t see any good in anything you do. Just getting up in the morning is a major achievement.
And I’m lucky – my depression is generally quite mild. For people who have terribly deep depressive episodes, leading to suicidal thoughts and even the act itself, the entire world is dark and there is no light to be found anywhere.
I once tried to write a contemporary romance during a period where I was crashing into a depression.
It is beyond a shadow of a doubt the worst thing I have ever written.
I have no idea what I was thinking, trying to write something that is about hope and joy when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and sob.
Creative people have a greater tendency to suffer mental illness than the community at large, and you never know when it will hit.
When I had my first depressive episode, I thought I had a virus and was ill, I was so tired and run down and lacking enthusiasm for anything.
My doctor recognised the truth as soon as I came into her office and when she asked me if anything had happened lately and I said ‘well…’ and burst into tears, I came to realise it too.
So I think one of the most important things we need to do when facing a darkest hour is to take care of ourselves.
We may, for example, think that we need to keep writing, because we’re committed and we’re proud and we’re not going to fail.
But sometimes, you just have to not write.
You have to take time to still and recharge. Don’t forget – letting ideas simmer in your brain is an important aspect of writing. Have faith that you won’t forget your passion and you will start writing again when the darkness has passed.
I had two periods of time in 2015 where I didn’t write a word for weeks, but I let any fear or worry about that go, because I knew when I was ready I’d write again. And I did.
Take care of yourself physically and mentally, both during the darkest hour and outside of it. Eat well. Sleep enough. Spend time with family and friends. Exercise.
The stronger you are going into a darkest hour, the sooner you’ll be out the other end (or be able to find the light inside the darkness).
Every time you get good feedback on a story, copy and paste it into a brag file.
Then on the days where you doubt you can do this, you’ll be able to open it up and remember all the people who think you can.
Finally, make sure that the goals you’ve set are ones that are achievable.
For example, having ‘Being published by a major publisher’ is not a realistic goal, because that relies on other people and isn’t something you can directly affect that much.
It’s a dream, but not a goal. ‘Polish my novel and send it to a publisher by the end of the year’ – that is something you can achieve, something you can be proud of.
Make sure your goals have steps you can fulfil. And reward yourself whenever a goal is achieved.
I’m going to go reward myself for having written this blog post 🙂
Nicole Murphy is a writer, editor and teacher who writes contemporary romance as Elizabeth Dunk. Much Ado About Love is her tenth publication. Follow Nicole at her website, on Twitter (@nicole_r_murphy) or on Facebook (Nicole Murphy & Elizabeth Dunk – Author). You can find Much Ado About Love at Escape Publishing.
Please leave a comment or like the post so Nicole knows you dropped by. 😀