Post Publication Blues

sad

I have a lot of friends who are writers, authors, whatever you want to call it. We write stuff, stuff we put it in book-like formats. A lot of them have recently published their books, which is awesome. Clap yourself on the back and feel okay about your lives, friends. That’s a roller coaster of a ride and you did it. But many of them have caught the post publication blues, which is not so awesome.

As someone who experiences pretty severe mood shifts, I can catch the signs pretty easily: 1) these friends are either throwing themselves into social media or completely backing off 2) posting pictures of sales, ratings and sad faces 3) posing questions about life, generally, and their lives as writers, specifically 4) having a lack of ideas for the next project or a lack of zeal for the project 5) posting excess pictures of alcohol or baked goods they will be consuming 6) sharing statistics about the fruitlessness of artistic careers

For those of you who are newbies to the scene or are not authors, you might be asking, “What are post publication blues and why do they exist?” It’s a state of being emotionally and physically worn out, even depressed, after the publication of one’s book/project. And, yes, it’s a real thing. I’m not making fun. I’ve been there and it feels pretty bleak. I’ve asked a few of these friends where their blues and even depression stems from after that book is released, and I got some great answers. I have a few conjectures of my own, as well, and I’d like to share them with those of you experiencing post publication blues.

  1. One of my friends suggested that the feeling of emotional and physical sickness an even actual sickness that hits after publication comes from over-work. When you have a book deadline, editing, more editing, marketing, interviewing, proofing and finalizing of a book going on at the same time you’re probably working another job or living your life, you’re on a worker’s buzz. You’re almost too productive and it wears your body down. When you finally hit that “publish” point, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted. Let’s face it, you probably ate poorly, didn’t exercise and slept terribly during the writing process. Now your body is not being pushed and it has the time to recover. Being sick is actually one way for your body to tell you to sleep and slow down. So, there’s probably some truth to this.
  2. Another friend said she gets the blues because she let her story out to the world and she can’t get it back, and that’s terrifying. People can read it, review it, critique and even, yes, ignore it. And they do. Your story is no longer yours; it belongs to the world and sometimes the world is harsh.
  3. Working for a trauma and recovery imprint (my book deals with PPD, depression, and rape) I look at it yet another way. Every book we write contains a part of us. Maybe one of the characters goes through a trauma we have faced, maybe one of the characters is an ode to a friend we love, maybe situations, scenes, etc. stem from our life. How could they not? Some of our books ARE our stories. So they are deeply personal, whether they are fiction or non-fiction and we are letting them go. That’s tough because when you get those reviews, they feel personal. Whether they are good or bad, they are personal reflections on our words and worlds and that’s kinda exhausting.
  4. Writers are often a little different. We have to be to want to tell stories for a living, to want to create strange, beautiful or terrifying worlds. We make up peoples, places and even dialogue. We are the kind of people who often talk to ourselves, make up elaborate scenes in our heads and obsess about them as if they are reality. Simply put, most writers are very creative and creativity is really just another word for weird. There’s something not quite right about us, or we wouldn’t do what we do. And that’s okay, but it can make us very invested in our words, as egotistical as that sounds.

So what do you do when you’re feeling the post publication blues, writers? I really want to know. I get them every time I publish something and get too much or too little feedback. Here’s a couple of things that sometimes work for me, but any suggestions for your fellow writers feeling the blues is appreciated:

  1. I take walks, hikes or workout. And that’s just good idea, no matter what. Exercise gives my head and body time to breathe and recover. And I come up with great ideas when I walk or run by myself.
  2. I try to set a schedule for writing and I stick to it, even if what I write is crap. I let myself take a break in between projects, but I set a firm “re-start” date.
  3. I try to eat well and sleep well, and I stay far away from my reviews. I don’t read them and I don’t look at my rating unless I’m running a sale or am featured. Otherwise, I stick with engaging people and don’t worry about how my book is doing.
  4. I start writing something else. I make a new world, invest my energy and passion into another world, other characters, and I move on.

So, fellow writers, please leave your tips and stories in the comments below. Peace to you, published folks, and take it easy.

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11 thoughts on “Post Publication Blues

  1. Yes, I have felt this. I’ve only published one novel, which took me four years to complete. But, when it was finally published, instead of feeling euphoric, I felt depressed. And just like you’ve said, it’s not uncommon. I think it was because I had spent so much time in my story, with my characters, that when it was done, they were gone. I was in a a state of mourning. It’s bitter sweet. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  2. Totally relate to this. I worked on my memoir for over three years, writing almost every day. It was such an anchor to my life and my healing that once it was finally time to publish, I just didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. Work on another book I guess 😉

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  3. I haven’t published my book yet, but you have definitely hit on my fears. Right now that book is mine and it IS personal although it is fiction. I hope I’m strong enough to overcome. I don’t want to lose the satisfaction in writing only for me. Thanks for sharing. 😉

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    • I think you’ll find those fears are pretty common, but it’s also nice to write for both your own amusement and the amusement of others. You find a happy medium, eventually. 🙂 Good luck!

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  4. Yes! Post publication blues are real – and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s that combination of exhaustion and the emotions of sending words out into the world, for me, that just sets me into those blues. I like to get into the pool (indoors or outdoors) and just forget the world and swim. Even when I’m too tired to really “work out,” it’s comforting to be in the water. 🙂
    I hope you weather those blues easily!

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  5. Oh, I -totally- had this, although it came after finishing a bunch of projects I was working on (including about 7 short plays for Indiegogo donors, roundabout December 2011). January 2012 I started off with a -massive- case of burnout. Finally, on the advice of a friend, I just took some time off and watched a couple of TV shows, not trying to write too much. It helped.

    Thanks for the post, Heather. Very helpful.

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