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Lucy Turns Pages: Guest Series: Mental Health & Creativity. A Writer Comes to Terms with Grief by Rosanna Leo

Guest Series: Mental Health & Creativity. A Writer Comes to Terms with Grief by Rosanna Leo

Hello everyone, I decided to start a guest series for people to talk about how their mental health affects their creative work and life and how they deal with it. Mental health is a topic that is close to my heart, and so is creativity. By doing this, I hope that some people will find comfort in the words of others as I have done so before and still do. I am so grateful to everyone who has offered to write for this series so far.

guest post, dealing with grief, writing when you are grieving, mental health post, how writing can help with grief,Our first guest writer is Rosanna Leo, a multi-published author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Winner of the Reader’s Choice 2015 in Paranormal Romance at The Romance Reviews, Rosanna draws on her love of mythology for her books on Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters.

From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.

A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Please find her social media links at the end of the post.
When the moment comes, and we lose someone we love, we all know the wave of emotion is going to hit. I’d hazard a guess most of us understand it’ll hit us hard.
When I lost my mother-in-law just over two years ago, I knew I wouldn’t escape unscathed. What I didn’t expect was the merciless spontaneity of my grief and the way it would impact my writing process.
Please don’t get me wrong. Writing was in no way my priority. When she first passed, I didn’t write at all. It wasn’t even on my radar. During moments like that, a family pulls together and I was most concerned with being a source of comfort to my husband and my sons. However, when life began to normalize, we went back to our routines. I picked up my pen again, assuming the act of writing would be a balm for my soul. It would heal me.
It did, but not right away.
I tried to write. I adhered to my regular process, sat at the regular desk, drank the regular coffee. I did everything I normally did, but the words didn’t come. My mind wandered. I cursed a lot, aghast at my lack of progress.
It wasn’t that I was suffering writer’s block. Before my mother-in-law’s passing, my book had been ticking along well. I had it all plotted out. I knew what I was doing.
I just couldn’t move beyond the same awful pages.
On some level, I must have understood my grief was messing with my mind. After all, as we’ve all heard many times, grief affects people in different ways. This was part of my grief. I acknowledged it. I looked it right in the kisser, knowing I could move on once I did.
Only I didn’t. The blank page continued to taunt me. My plot points made no sense. My characters and conflicts felt lifeless, pointless. I managed to get some words down but none of them inspired me. I had assumed my writing would pull me out of my dark corners but it only thrust me deeper into shadow.
I was forced to take a step back. I’ve always been a firm believer that sometimes you need to walk away from a troublesome manuscript. We need to clear our heads here and there. My brain definitely needed a break. How could I possibly create new worlds when I wasn’t comfortable in my own world?
I put my manuscript away. And by “away,” I don’t mean I just walked off and had a coffee. I saved and closed the file and refused to touch it for a few weeks. Instead, I embarked on some outings with my family. My husband and I went for a lot of long walks. We cried. We reminisced. Most importantly, we sought help where it was needed.
I gave myself permission to grieve, permission not to write. That can be a hard thing for a writer. We are programmed to document and record our feelings. We want to write. Nevertheless, I learned that sometimes the best thing we can do for our writing is to stop writing.
When I did return to it, the flavor of my manuscripts changed. I won’t lie. Characters died. Some plots got darker. I may have angered one or two readers but the change was needed. It allowed me to flesh out my emotions in a safe space. Honestly, I think it was some of my best work. I fought hard to get those words down on the page and I couldn’t be prouder.
Can I offer any advice? If you write and you are struggling with any mental health issue, get help. Talk to a professional. Explore those feelings so they don’t overwhelm you at odd times. Grief is traumatic. We need to allow ourselves time to heal.
Your story will still be there tomorrow, and it may just end up being the best thing you’ve ever written.

Thank you so much to Rosanna for sharing her personal story.

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