Postpartum Writing Blues: The let down when you finish a novel

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I finished writing a novel recently and it felt like my kid left home and went to college and didn’t write or call.
This is not the first time I’ve had that experience.
Whenever I complete such a project, be it novel or screenplay, there is a let down. I’ll call it the Postpartum Writing Blues.
Like the kind women experience after having a baby, I believe this down-in-the-dumps feeling after the birth of a novel comes from placing so much of yourself into your writing. You push your mind and soul on the page. You step into the heads of your characters. So when it is done, you are left with a big investment of emotion. And unlike babies, which take nine months, our little bundle might usually take longer. My last novel took about one year.

You have so much hope for your project and you want it to do well in the world. Sometimes, it won’t. Sometimes, it will be the perfect successful child.
Still, that failure doesn’t remove anything from the experience of writing. This is a tremendous accomplishment all in itself.
After completing a big novel, I ususally take a break from writing. Then I start in another project.
Afterall, even if I face another case of Postpartum Writing Blues, the excitement of creating something out of nothing is too much to pass up.

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2 responses »

  1. I am a writer and a mother. I truly do understand what you are trying to say with this post. Creating art of any kind is, in some ways, very much like the process of conception, gestation and birth. I, too, have felt emotional pangs after finishing a meaningful piece of artistic work. However, I have also lived through severe postpartum anxiety and OCD. There is just no comparison. A “down in the dumps feeling” is not even remotely close to the exceedingly painful and tortuous despair experienced by women suffering with postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD. I’m not trying to be inflammatory, preachy or condescending. I promise. I just want to put my perspective out there, because this condition so often is misunderstood. Anyone who thinks they or loved one would benefit from information or support around this issue might want to check out postpartumprogress.com; it’s a fabulous resource.

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