Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Crooked Truth

Kara's Crooked Truth: Journaling Through

One morning last week, I got up early for my daily writing time. I sat down with my laptop and assessed the previous day’s output. I thought about my current work-in-progress and its trajectory. And I decided that it stinks. It’s fatally flawed, I thought. It’s hopeless. It will never work. I should abandon it altogether.

But then, I stopped myself. I put my laptop away, opened my writing journal, and began working through my issues. By the end of the writing session, I wasn’t completely convinced to keep going with the story, but I had a slightly better outlook.

What brought on this wave of negative emotions? Hormones. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with PMDD, or Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a severe form of PMS that strikes a small percentage of women, and features (among other DELIGHTFUL symptoms) crippling depression. Just like those medications that warn you not to drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence, my experience with PMDD has taught me not to make any major life decisions while I’m under its evil monthly spell. I take medication for it now, so I can keep the bleaker thoughts at bay, but it still manages to creep in at inopportune times and sour my judgment.

As you might imagine, this is not good for my creative life. Fortunately, I have become self-aware enough to recognize when the PMDD is taking over, so I can back away from the Delete button (or the Send Email button, or the telephone).  But it’s frustrating to go through several days a month when I have to avoid my work-in-progress because there’s this other thing in my head, wreaking havoc in my brainspace. 

Of course, journaling about my inability to write is still writing, and it’s often more productive for me — by removing myself from the actual work, I can save it for a time when I have a clearer head, and give myself fresh perspective on whatever story problem seems to be in my way. I call it journaling through the problem. And during those times when the problem is ME (or, more accurately, a certain imbalance of chemicals in my body), I can journal through it by self-counseling. Even if my words are scrawled in my journal, I still count them towards my daily quota, and meeting that quota always makes me feel like a winner — or at least, like less of a loser.

Do you keep a writing journal? Has it been helpful?


  1. Good for you for figuring yourself out! It sounds like you're doing exactly what you need to do.

    I sporadically keep a writing journal. I guess I use is when I need it most. It's most helpful to look back at when I'm feeling down.

    1. Thanks, Cindy! I also find it helpful to look back on old entries, to see how I solved past problems, and how I found the strength to solve them at all! -K :)