Writing can make people ugly, especially when pushing towards a deadline. As can anything, because human beings were only meant to tolerate a certain level of stress before they break. Deadlines – personal or professional – can make writers turn from that happy-go-lucky imaginative, delightful person we all know we are, to an ugly tentacle-covered monster. These night and day personalities are something that I like to call a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome, and they happen to the best of us.
It starts out simple enough, just as it did for Doctor Jekyll. We are creators, and from our minds come all sorts of wonders! Like Doctor Jekyll, or goal is to make the world a better place. So we sit down at our computer, ready to pound out that last chapter before bed. But it doesn’t come. And we’re tired. But if we wait until the morning, the must may not come back, and we will have already lost time. So we make a cup of coffee and sit down again, only to face further frustration. This is the first night of the transformation.
One night of this isn’t bad… but two or three days…weeks? Pretty soon we find ourselves dragging through our day job, avoiding our friends, snapping at our loved ones. The exasperation leads us to obsess over the words that can’t come fast enough and the lack of sufficient sleep makes us hate the world and everything in it – we are essentially destroying ourselves, one step at a time. Suddenly that world-enriching savoir is gone, replaced with something a little more bitter and coarse.
So there we are, at rock bottom. Everyone is avoiding us, because we are immeasurably grumpy, and words are not being written anyway, for all that trouble.
What I do in this case is stop caring as much about the writing. Work through it, even if it means I’m writing complete rubbish, just to get to where I need to be. And for goodness sake, buy a fruit basket for the boyfriend, or something to say “I’m sorry”. A writer needs loving support, and pushing those people away is the last thing that is healthy.
How do you deal with your Jekyll and Hyde periods?