Ennui

Have you ever had a disease with no diagnosis and no known treatment? I’m not talking about something to go see a doctor about. I’m talking about something that just sorta paralizes you and robs you of your ability to do anything.

We’ve all heard the old salt that writers write. I love being a writer, and I love to write—but here lately I can’t seem to get my mind around the idea of writing.

Oh, I can answer emails and comment on Facebook. I can even write several hundred words for a blog. But I can’t seem to get into my WIP.

The week after Thanksgiving I had some surgery on my left shoulder. It would be classified as minor surgery if it were done on someone else, but it was major since it was done on me.

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Oops—wrong shoulder, but you get the point.

The procedure was done arthroscopically and outpatient, both of which scream “Minor.” So why am I still not myself over two weeks later.

Since the surgery, I’ve had to be very careful what I do with my left arm in order to minimize the likelihood of damaging the shoulder. For instance, I had to eat, write and do other things with my right hand—which is extremely difficult for a left-hander to do. I even bought an electric razor, which I abhor, because I could use it right-handed, which I couldn’t do with a regular razor.

The further removed I am from the date of surgery, the more I can do with my left hand and arm, naturally. I’ve been eating and doing my crossword puzzles with my left hand for several days now, and I finally retired the barely-used electric razor and began shaving normally.

When the surgeon came to see me before I was wheeled into the operating room, I asked him about typing, and he told me absolutely not to use my left hand on the keyboard or mouse. I had a two-week follow-up appointment Tuesday and was cleared to use my keyboard and mouse normally as long as I was careful not to strain anything. Since I put my keyboard on a lap board, my hands and arms are in a comfortable position that doesn’t strain them at all.

So with all that going, I should be back to writing at least 1000 words a day on my WIP, right? Probably, but I can’t get into it. I don’t know whether it’s lazy habits I’ve formed while recuperating or the pain which has not completely gone away or what, but I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and take up that work. I don’t know if I’ll start next week or after the holidays or at the end of the eight to ten week period the doctor told me it would take for a complete recovery.

Those who know me best know that I have a bit of a lazy streak anyhow, but this is different. I don’t understand myself about this.

Have you had a similar experience, and how did you handle it. I’d love to know.

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WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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29 Responses to Ennui

  1. David, unfortunately I’ve never been in your exact situation. I have had my times of paralysis by analysis, though. I tend to think, then rethink. Work, then rework. So…I’ve had to learn to step away mentally and physically, especially when I feel disconnected from my project. I start working on other things…then, after I’ve given myself some space, I come back to my project. There is nothing wrong with taking a break on a project (especially if you’re someone like me who can do more harm than good to her work if not in the right frame of mind).

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  2. David! Good to see you are being a trooper about the whole thing… 🙂 It’s weird how things go.. ya know? Like, had you not had surgery, you’d still be plugging away at 1,000 words a day. But you did have surgery… so now maybe 250 words a day is all you may be able to handle. Maybe this is God’s way of letting you know, “Hey… David… you’re a great writer… but there is other stuff out there for you to notice.” Just my perception. Take care and God Bless, David!!!

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  3. I just read the comments, and I’m fascinated that so many people attribute this stuff to the anesthesia. This is the universe telling us to slow down and pay attention to what matters. Yes, your writing is important – but sitting down and being grateful to be alive is what I believe this reaction is about. I know you know what I’m talking about. 🙂

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  4. David, when you are healing, the body (and the spirit) need to turn inward a little bit. All that energy that you usually expend on your writing, well… it’s being used in other places right now.

    As you know, since I experienced this horrifying withdrawal, I have been unable to write a single blog post. In fact, this is the 2nd post I’ve even been able to respond to, even though I’ve been reading all along.

    Be gentle with yourself. You are on a spiritual journey. We all are.

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    • So glad you took the time to comment, Renee. I look forward to a day when we can meet in person. Meanwhile, I consider you among my best friends, and I treasure every word from you. No pressure on you to start responding more – just want you to know how treasured you and your words are.

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  5. Try not to worry too much about the way you’re feeling, David. It happens to me, too. After Nano, I took a break of 3 weeks from writing because I knew I had a lot of work to do on the novel. I’m beginning to read writing articles again and looking forward to the next project even though my WIP is still sitting here waiting for me to get busy revising.
    I think this happens to most writers now and then. Maybe once we all have several books in the market and we’ve developed better habits, it won’t be weeks that we’re away from our manuscripts but days or hours.
    Give yourself the time you need to get back into, keep writing something daily and soon an idea will spark and you’ll be right back into your story. Meanwhile, relax. Stressing about it will just make it harder to be creative. Hang in there, my friend!

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  6. Barb Estinson says:

    All the other comments are so wise, David … I can’t add much …… but I can surely empathize. My recovery from surgery seems to be going well, though not without pain. But mentally and emotionally I am so derailed. It took me several days to accomplish the simple task of paying bills that I usually do in a couple of hours. Just couldn’t focus. I do think the effects of anesthesia linger .. and certainly pain meds inhibit clear thinking. But I think also just the assault on the body that surgery entails takes its toll. We’ll both get better, Bro. Love you.

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  7. Lynn says:

    I’ve heard that it takes a while for the effects of the anesthesia to go away completely. After my gall bladder surgery, my body thermostat was crazy for weeks. It is Christmastime so just give yourself a break and be lazy for a while. It’ll come back.

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  8. I’m so glad your procedure went well, though my heart aches for your writing/typing dilemma. I recently had LASIK, and simply keeping my eyes shut for one day and having to work in short spurts thereafter was tough. I also had a tendinitis scare that had me terrified about my abilities to keep up all I was doing.

    Breaks and increased self-care have helped me a lot. We do some of our best writing in our heads after all! 😉 Whenever I take a break, I come back stronger. I’m confident the same will happen for you. Best of luck!

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  9. Sharon Walker says:

    This surgery wasn’t minor. It took a lot out of you. I think that within a month or so you’ll be back on track with your writing. In the meanwhile, take it easy and don’t be so demanding of yourself. Relax and enjoy the Christmas holidays with family and friends. Much love, Wife

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  10. You will get back on track, David. Take your time, recover well, enjoy the holidays and you will soon be inspired to write in your WIP. Believe! Happy holidays!

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  11. Julie Glover says:

    I tend to take the usual time + about one week. I often need a few more days even after being cleared to feel well enough to get going. Then I sit down and get going. I may even throw out the first few days of what I write after a long hiatus, but the practice gets my brain going again and I get back on track. That’s just what I do.

    I hope that you feel much better soon. Glad the surgery went okay!

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  12. I don’t think it’s unusual. Writing is hard work, and when I take a break for some reason, it’s hard to sit back down and get back into it.
    Having said that, making sure your shoulder is fully recovered is probably the most important thing anyway. So, a little procrastination may not harm!

    Have a good Christmas.

    Cheers!

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  13. hope you fill better soon and that god will heal you as he is slowly doing with this cold /flu type bug that I have at the moment

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  14. I think you’ll be fine when your arm gets better, David. I’ve had 7 ankle surgeries and while my ankle has nothing to do with typing/writing – it’s a big bummer. I think anesthesia can also have an affect on you for several days or even a couple of weeks. Your body has gone through a trauma which affects your emotions as well. You need time to heal So give yourself the time and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s a good spot in the year to take that time, enjoy the holiday and your family. I’ll be praying for a swift recovery for you. Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and yours.

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    • Thanks, Rhonda. That’s one reason I scheduled it when I did – to take advantage of a slow period. I know you’re right, and I appreciate what you said, but I still feel weird about all this.

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