I Disappeareded

Every once in a while, we must “disappear” for a time. Or at least we should . . . anyone who tries to maintain all the little working parts of their lives when the big unexpecteds show up is going to drive themselves to an early stress grave.

Sometimes we face crises (my heart goes out to the families of all those firefighters who died in Arizona), sometimes we change jobs, sometimes we go on extended trips, sometimes we face physical ailments, sometimes we fall in love.

Sometimes all five at the same time.

by Vincent Manalo

by Michael Vincent Manalo

Whenever this happens, if you’re like me and have to manage your own work schedule, and tend to take on a lot of different projects, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To stay healthy and sane, it’s best to assess all commitments (to yourself and others) and uncommit to what you can.

Without feeling guilty.

Many times it’s the commitments to ourselves we put aside (exercise, creativity, socializing). And we feel just as guilty for breaking commitments to ourselves as we do to breaking them with others. As a matter of fact, I bet those ones break our hearts just a little more, because we are putting aside our dreams.

I feel anxious when I’m not writing or editing. My stress level goes up. So, recently, when life threw me a series of curve balls, and I wasn’t writing or editing or even blogging, and I was overwhelmed with so many things on my plate, I made the decision to drop a few commitments I had made to others.

I chose the ones that I hadn’t started yet, so didn’t have much emotional investment in them. I was brief and honest when I told them they would need to find someone else. It was better than me sending excuse after excuse as to why I hadn’t finished yet and stringing them along. Really, it’s a win-win decision.

I felt lighter after I had told them. Immediately, that night, I started working on my book again for the first time in weeks. And here I am, able to blog again. The short bandaid rip of pain in communicating my inability to follow through on these things was worth it.

So, how do you face your own periods of overwhelm when you have them?


  1. Annie the House Fairy
    Jul 4, 2013

    I just rip out my brain and march on down the yellow brick road until I pop through another rabbit hole and have a cuppa with a mad milliner and do cartwheels across the lawn at the bc legislature and talk to the shrubs in the yard or fly across oceans on the backs of turtles and then fly on a magic carpet to Marrakech where i have tea with Johnny Depp, Dali, Isadora Duncan and Prince Charles until they fall out over who is gonna pour and then I wake up.

  2. AMBuxton
    Jul 5, 2013

    I went through the same thing a few months ago, and I am so glad I cut a few things out. My creative is back on track. My only problem now is that I’d rather write all the time than do anything else. 🙂 Good for you for making your choices.

    • Danika Dinsmore
      Jul 16, 2013

      It’s tough sometimes. Good for you, too. I’m reappearing slowly as part of the issue was a neck injury. I can only sit at my computer for limited amounts of time.

      (I should reread Stephen King’s On Writing. That will be inspiring. If you’ve never read it, he was hit by a car halfway through writing it, and it works through his recovery – great book, even if you’ve never read his fiction before)

  3. D. S. Thornton
    Jul 10, 2013

    Good for you, Danika. You can only do so much. There are only so many hours in the day. Frustration builds when we’re not using those hours as we’d like. Just Say No!

    • Danika Dinsmore
      Jul 16, 2013

      I think it’s better to do fewer things really well than a bunch of things half-way. So nice to meet you last month, BTW! 🙂

  4. Julia Phillips Smith
    Jul 17, 2013

    I just got back from vacation, where I went social media dark. In general, I quite enjoy the social media part of being a writer, but I wasn’t about to take all of that on vacation with me, free WiFi or no. I definitely needed to reclaim some me time and that was the perfect way to do it. I like your suggestion to take a step back and restructure your time when things get too stressy. Writers have to take their careers seriously, but because we’re creators, we also have to maintain a sense of joy in our work. Can’t do that when things become stressy.

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