How To Avoid Writer’s Postpartum Blues

man looks frustrated leaning on typewriter black and white

By Laurent Auclair

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel down for the few days after you’ve finished a first draft or a massive rewrite? Well, wonder no more. You might be suffering a mild case of Writer’s Postpartum Blues. And why wouldn’t you be? You’ve just spent weeks, months, sometimes years bringing characters to life, exploring each aspect of their complex relationships, living in their space and now, they’re ready for their own journey into the world, ready to grow out of your control to find a life of their own. There is no Wrap Party for writers and no celebration to acknowledge this huge accomplishment. Sometimes it leaves us with this barely perceptible blue patch of emotion that keeps us from moving to the next project with all the serenity we need.

In four moves, though, you can get rid of this feeling and confidently celebrate your work before moving to your next endeavour:

Reward Your Brain

Working on a script, creating a story world and developing convincing characters are taxing on the brain and push you to live a few lifetimes of relationships, intrigues, and sometimes betrayals within a few months. So give your brain a holiday to thank it for all of the hard work. One of my favourite ways to do so is to gather some friends and go to the movies, popcorn and choc tops included, to watch a definite ‘no-brainer’. Whether your taste runs more to gross-out comedies, predictable rom-coms, action-packed thrillers or good old slasher movies, just sit back, relax, and DO NOT THINK. You deserve this.

Reward Your Body

You’ve written for days, weeks, maybe months. You sat at your computer for long hours. How much exercise did you give your body during all this time? Not enough for sure! And there’s a good chance your body has started to remind you of that. Backaches, stiff necks, you name it, the modern writing position is not what your average Homo sapiens was meant to do. Now that your job is done, why not reward your body? Once again, a few options are yours depending on whether you’re a hard-core sportsman or an arm-chair athlete. Two of my favourites are coastal walks and massages. Take your pick, and if you choose to walk, allow yourself to truly disconnect and leave behind your phone and headset. Listen to the world around you, take deep breaths and enjoy the scenery.

Reward Your Soul

This is probably the most important one, the pat on the back that beats all others. Your soul made you the writer that you are, it led your ideas and your characters, and for that reason it deserves the reward of rewards. So give yourself a gift. A real one. Think of Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ and the ritual Paul Sheldon rewards himself with every time he finishes a novel. It can be as simple as buying the book you have wanted to read for a couple of months. Allow yourself to take the time to read it, savour each page, stretch into its comfort. Or book that getaway you’ve delayed for too long to the place you’ve always wanted to visit, ticking it off your bucket list. Whatever it is, make it an occasion. It has to be something special.

Ease Back Into It

Trying to tackle your new War and Peace right after you’ve achieved your personal Lord of the Rings is too daunting. Give yourself some time and leave your next big project on the back burner for another two or three weeks. Like a good stretching session after you’ve run a marathon, be kind with your creative self, and maybe try another form of writing. Something short form. Maybe develop a poem, a short film or a short story. Something without high stakes. Use it as the rebound you need to finish your recovery and get ready for your next big marathon of script.