On Silence: Or Why I Sometimes Stop Blogging Out of the Blue

There is a great post from Jen Merrill over at An Intense Life today about how she retreats into a very quiet space (so quiet she calls it Quiet) when her emotional intensities are over-stimulated.

I, too, retreat to a Quiet mental space from time to time to regroup, often after a big project has finished and the adrenaline that pushed me through the final stages of the project is no longer literally coursing through my veins.

I wrote a previous post about my irregular output, which applies to this blog as well as to my other writing projects. In that post, I wrote about my need to balance big projects with small projects and about how a big project can expand to take up all my available time, preventing me from engaging in more ongoing projects, like blogging.

And that is part of the truth, but like most truths, it is partial.

The other part of the truth is that big projects take an emotional investment and require a recover period afterwards, a recovery period much like that described by Jen in her post.

I have a few things running around my mind that will turn into blog posts soon. But probably not today.

But, not to worry.

I’ll be back to more regular ramblings soon. I still have plenty to say.

And for those of you paying attention, I got an email a couple of day ago letting me know that I correctly predicted which book would be sent to the big time editor.



13 thoughts on “On Silence: Or Why I Sometimes Stop Blogging Out of the Blue

  1. After 2.5 years of writing/editing on my 4 book serial, I find I take retreats ever more frequently. Evidently, even working on a labor of love. my mind at some point says enough already. But the work on book #4 continues because I always live in fear that a disaster will happen and it will never get finished. So I work to beat the imagined disaster.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      I find it interesting that you take retreats more frequently as you progress. My creative cycle (create, retreat, create, retreat) moves more quickly than it used to. Now I am curious about the why and how of that change. Thanks for getting me thinking.


      • It’s a matter of how fast the stress bucket fills up. So as you get toward the end of a giant task and are in the actualization phase, where you are making your plans and your imagination into reality, the rigidity of reality backwashes into your mind causing stress. On the final book of a serial, there is no creative outlet because you don’t have the diversion of the next book yet. So there is the stress of routine disruption where what I have been doing for 2.5 years suddenly changes. It’s like losing your job and getting a new job. My new job instead of being creative is of production. The anxiety of the impending change fills the stress bucket faster. Then I have the professional edits. The first pass is always tough because the editor is paid to take my wonderful world apart and show me the ugly reality of how what I said really sounds. It’s even worse because I’m targeting gifted middle school kids. Sometimes the editor doesn’t understand because I’ve messed things up. But sometimes it’s because it is over their head. It is very difficult to know which at times. So there is a lot of uncertainty stress. Because it is the last book, it is the last chance to form a lasting impression in the reader, their takeaway. So the edits are even more critical. If the reader gets lost the least bit in the ending, the entire serial is for nothing. Even the artwork for the book suffers from impinging reality. Some of the really beautiful color artwork when printed in black and white comes out all black because of the colors in the palette. So more stress in the bucket as plans change, coordinating the artist and the layout person while feeding the artist new precise scene descriptions. So the overall theme is the transition in the creative process from the flexible phase which is relatively low stress and withdrawal is due to exhaustion, to the rigid phase where the creative work is brought into reality. The rigid pattern of thought for an extended period means the bucket fills rapidly and must be emptied more frequently.

        • Rusty– Maybe you should get some gifted Middle School kids to edit your books… ;-D

          • Actually, I do via the early reader program I run. Some do send me edits. About 2/3rds the time they are correct, which helps me. And when they are not correct, I usually reply and explain why. This story deliberately has a lot of characters because these kids love the complexity. But occasionally I will lose a character (they start out with the group of characters but do not arrive at a destination) and the kids feedback is very valuable in that the kids are practically the only ones who could detect that for me.

        • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

          That makes sense. Thanks for explaining your experience.


  2. I think if I look back over my life, I’ve been spending more time doing creative things in my early 30’s and then again in my early 40’s than in my 20’s and the time between my early 30’s and early 40’s (when my youngest and biggest handful was born till she became more self-sufficient).

    I’m not counting school years–those were my most creative, but then I was IN school. Many things were assignment related and what wasn’t, was inspired by assignments and by having more friends who also had the same amount of free time.

  3. I think one can fill up the calm bucket as well. I always read a lot when I’m writing a lot and in a weird way this keep a balance–words in, words out. I also try (try being the operative word) to take good care of myself with self nurturing. We forget that exerting ourselves mentally can be just as taxing as exerting ourselves physically.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      I love the image of filling the calm bucket.

      I usually find I need to be taking in things other than words when I am actively writing or I become driven off-course by other people’s words. Then, when I come out of an intense writing period, I cannot find enough time to read.

      It always fascinates me how different people have such different processes.

  4. I’m going to use the “filling the calm bucket” analogy with my sons. Their school uses “How Full Is Your Bucket” for character education, and so they’re both familiar with the bucket filling concept. With summer looming, filling a “calm” bucket will help us through some otherwise hectic afternoons.
    That said, I think my Quiet stems not only from the calm before the book is out storm, but from some really really challenging problems in real life. It’s a combo of not being able to talk about them because people involved will find out and that would be very bad and being sick of my own thoughts about it all and just being too overwhelmed to form a coherent thought.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      I hope all the personal IRL stuff gets resolved sooner rather than later. I can see how that would push me into Quiet, too.

  5. […] made similar posts on separate blogs. Jen posted here about her experiences with going Quiet, and Kate posted on her own blog –about why she sometimes stops blogging. After reading their posts, I wanted to say, “Me too! Me too!” Which I did; in the […]

  6. […] you have been around for a while, you know that I take unscheduled breaks from time to time. Part of the reason for these breaks is the nature of my creative process. Part is […]

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