Recently, I fell into a bit of a writing funk. Maybe this happens to all writers, maybe not. But I had a serious bout of “I am a total hack, why would I think anyone would want to read the garbage I write. I should stop torturing people with it.”

Falling Down a Writing Hole of Depression

I’d hit the sort of writer depression where you sink down into self-loathing and doubt to the point of questioning the point of it all. I’m not usually one to sink down anywhere. Someone once said I was so happy I was like an “annoying little bubbly puppy.”

Enter my daughter.

She noticed my pathetic state, not that it’s hard to notice when the annoying bubbly puppy stops jumping around and instead wallows for days. But, she is a pre-teen and most pre-teens don’t exactly notice the plight of others.

I was sitting in bed one night, pretending to read, but really staring off into space and contemplating my own mediocrity when she came in and handed me a colorful piece of paper.

When I looked at it, I almost started to cry.

Challenged by an 11-year-old

My daughter’s solution to getting me out of my funk? Writing and reading challenges that we do together. It’s her version of therapy. It’s the “hair of the dog”, the “get back on the horse.” Her solution wasn’t to just give up, it was to keep going.

It was the cutest, sweetest thing I think she’s ever done. She’s officially become the more mature and thoughtful one in this relationship. She’s my Rory.

This is what she created…

First the writing challenge

It’s a seriously ambitious list filled with some interesting topic ideas that give a pretty clear indication into my daughter’s favorite things. There are some surprises and I’m still not sure what Harry Granger is, unless it’s some sort of alternative Harry Potter world where Harry and Hermione become fused together. I wonder how that would happen. And would that story double as fanfic? Can we double dip? But, see, I’m already thinking about it. The second I saw this list, that’s what happened, the gears started turning again…

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Then, the reading challenge

Apparently, my daughter didn’t think it was enough to create a writing challenge. I guess I needed a serious intervention that also included reading. So, she came up with the list below. After discussing, we decided we’d read the same books for each topic. That way we could talk about them afterwards. A mother/daughter book club.

This is also a very lofty list. Still, my daughter and I will be separated a lot this summer as she travels and goes to camp without me. I think this list and reading the same books will help us stay connected.

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Climbing out of the hole

I have to admit, when my daughter first handed these lists to me, I knew it was sweet. It got me thinking a bit about writing again. But that sinking feeling kept tugging me down. It wasn’t an instant rebound.

I put the lists on my dresser and looked at them everyday. Whenever I saw them, I thought about what she did. I’d notice the topics and think about possible stories. Sure enough, eventually I turned on the computer and started tapping at the keys again.

These lists did more than just get me writing. They reminded me of something I’d forgotten, the reason why I write in the first place. I had been so focused on my next books, getting them done, having people like them, that I’d lost sight of it. I was too deep down in that hole.

When I read the lists and topics, I began to think of new stories. I got excited about them. And I realized, this is why I write. I write because I love to do it. I write because I have all these ideas in my head I want to get out. I write because if I didn’t, I’d probably fall down a deeper, bigger hole and may never get out of it. I don’t write because I have to. I do it simply because I love it. And if no one ever reads or likes my work, so be it. I write for me and now I write for her too. Because it sucks to have a mom that just gives up.

Challenge accepted. Thanks kid.

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