While there may not be any real scientific basis behind the Blue Monday phenomenon (I am of course referring to the “most depressing day of the year” rather than the excellent 1980s New Order song), there’s probably more than a grain of truth in Dr Cliff Arnall’s supposed calculations. After all the hype and excitement of Christmas, January always seems a bit flat, and yes, on a drizzly Monday, when your credit card statement has arrived, and you head off to the day job in full-on, term-time traffic, you can be forgiven for feeling just a wee bit low.
It’s an equally gloomy time for writers. You may have promised yourself you’d get loads written in the glorious Christmas holidays (in between festive movies, and eating half your own body weight in Celebrations just because the box is there in front of you) – but you probably didn’t manage quite as much as you’d planned. You may have started a new writing diary, or given yourself some at-the-time motivational goals, which, by week three of January already seem ridiculously onerous. You may have reviewed your previous submissions, and realised you’ve heard nothing about at least half the pieces you’ve sent out – some many, many months ago – and of course, with the Christmas holidays, there’s likely to be a further delay before you hear anything. You may have foolishly declared (during the safety cushion of the festive break) that this will be the year you’ll give up the day job and write full-time…and now the horrible realisation is dawning that you need to tax the car, pay the mortgage, feed the cat – and you won’t be able to do any of these things on your current annual writing proceeds of ninety-five actual English pounds, a magazine subscription, and a gift voucher.
Indeed, when your Amazon sales chart has flatlined, your inbox remains stubbornly devoid of jolly acceptance emails, and all inspiration has deserted you, you may wonder why you bother at all. You may question all those hours spent on promotional activities on social media which appear to have absolutely zero impact on your follower numbers, blog hits, or sales. You may wonder if it’s worth bothering to submit yet another story to yet another competition only to hear nothing. You may not want to “get out there” and network, but simply curl up on the sofa with a blanket over your head, reading other people’s stories instead.
It’s tempting. Just give up. Just go to work and spend the rest of your time like a normal human being doing normal “recreational activities”.
Except you’re not a normal human being, are you? You’re a writer. And, without asking, stories pop into your head and demand to be written. And when you look at all those books on your shelves, you want yours to be there too. And you keep looking at that motivational quote on your noticeboard:
And you know it’s time to stop griping and get back to work. 😉
PS: If you have any tips for picking yourself up when things aren’t going quite so well, please pop them in the comments box. I’d love to hear them.