Menopause and Writing

September 29, 2014 | By | 29 Replies More

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”— Dawna Markova

stefaniespence This quote hangs over my desk today. I’m in my chair because I’m in pain. Pain has ultimately been my greatest teacher. My hip is sore from the pellets inserted in my hip from my naturopath as part of an ongoing natural treatment for menopause. I’m feeling disconnected and discontent today. When that happens I read inspirational words from other writers.

I’m in awe of other writers. I am learning how to extend that beautiful gaze to my own creative, divine self. It’s been a long process. Menopause has helped. Leaving an abusive relationship helped. Therapy, yoga and a supportive new life that I thrive in has been critical.

Fear is toxic. My family of origin taught me that fear was normal. Shame, guilt and abuse were all I knew until a recent mid-life adjustment. In “The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change” Christiane Northrup, MD delves into the idea that if you haven’t “dealt with your stuff” before this, you will. It’s natural. It’s healthy. I agree.

After treatment for PTSD, I used writing to heal.I realized that I had been writing under a censor my whole life. I’ve been a working writer for a very long time, but the freedom that has come from learning to connect to my vulnerability and write from that place has been the greatest gift.

I recently attended a writing workshop with Dara Marks (author of “Inside Story”). As a screenwriter, Dara has been the key to showing me how to embrace my feminine, authentic voice. I didn’t have the courage before menopause to go to those places that scared me. I’ll never write the same way again.

I’m living proof that menopause can be the greatest time of your life. I’ve never felt more free. My writing has taken on a whole new dimension because that ugly, mean internal critic has been banished. Sure, it still tries to dance around my laptop now and again, but all I have to do is reach into my toolbox and grab something that brings me back to remembering that my unique, divine voice is valuable.

Here are my top 10 ways to become a better writer:

  1. Sit down. Set a timer if you have to. Put something down. The muse will show up. I promise. Just get something down.
  2. Make #1 a habit. Don’t wait for inspiration. If you really want it, put in the time. You’ve heard about the 10,000 hour thing? If not, you can’t escape it. Embrace it.
  3. Don’t believe that you can learn the craft of screenwriting in a weekend or from one book. There is a whole industry out there selling the dream without giving you all of the truth. Do your homework.
  4. Believe in yourself. You’re the only one who can secure your spot in the self-love business. Writing is a lonely business. Learn the ways to get out from behind your computer and enjoy the rest of your one great, wild and wonderful life. This isn’t the dress rehearsal. It’s the play.
  5. Take risks. Make mistakes. Tell the ugly censor or critical voice to work on someone else’s fragile sense of self today. Keep moving forward.
  6. Believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you get stuck, help someone else out. Get out of your own head. Help another.
  7. Don’t quit when things get tough. Don’t listen to anything ANYONE says — follow your bliss.
  8. Set attainable goals. For me it’s five pages a day. You wouldn’t believe how high the percentage of people are who can’t do it. They can’t meet a deadline. They can’t put in the time. If you can, you’re way ahead of the game.
  9. Play tricks with yourself to meet those goals. I don’t allow myself to leave the house to do the one thing I love — go to Yoga — till those five pages are done.
  10. Reward yourself. Met your goals for the month? Give yourself a treat. If you don’t, who will? I’m my biggest fan. Nothing better than a massage or a new book. Something. It works for me. Hope it does for you too.

Would love your thoughts on what you do to tap into something that enhances your life too.

Coronado, California-based screenwriter Stephanie Spence is the former publisher of the award-winning monthly wellness lifestyle magazine in Pennsylvania, Health & Fitness. Her publishing company, Spence Communications, Inc., published numerous magazines and produced a short documentary film. Stephanie has worked in TV, films and radio and is currently in the Advanced UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting. This mother of two spends her time practicing Yoga, writing and traveling. You could contact her via her blog, One With Life: The Tales of the Traveling Yogini, or via Twitter.


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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips

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  1. Menopause and Writing | June 29, 2016
  1. QuYahni says:

    Uh. Well. This is hits me right where I need it. I recently described my journey as “a fire on the brain, tornado in the heart and hurricane in the body.” I can’t really express myself right now, except to say, “thank you.”

  2. Chris says:

    I’m awake at 3:am because of menopausal insomnia, just checked my e-mail and found another rejection letter for a story I’m subbing, decide to cruise through Twitter to keep my mind occupied, and I stumble on this.

    Thank you so much for reminding me yet again that none of us travel alone. This journey through womanhood is amazing and messy and complicated and your words are a gentle breeze clearing the hot flash fog.

    Thank you for reminding me to pay attention to how much menopause has given me. Like you, I am writing with so much less fear these days. And I love what comes out of my head when I don’t listen to my critic. Because you are right. The muse does show up. And she’s awesome!

    But mostly, thank you for writing this so I could find it when I needed it most. As the other commenters have said, thank you for sharing.

    Love, Chris

  3. What u r saying is exactly what we need when we are stuck, like I was- and still, in a malignant menopause nailing me to the cross. Taking no treatment, on the conviction that hot flashes should be short -lived and healing, I was rendered in virtual death over the electrifying pain, gasps and seizures imposed by flashes. It is only writing a book that saved me!!
    Never give up, and exploit your executioner!!
    Maria Jasmine Freemanp

  4. Love every line, including the beautiful quote by Dawna Markova. Your ‘Top 10 ways…’ are pinned on the wall. Thank you, this is truly something to share.

    • thanks so much Rosemary ~ you know as a writer there is no greater gift than hearing that your words are “something to share”. thanks for taking the time to connect. i hope you have an equally amazing day You made mine special ~~ stephanie

  5. Babatunde says:

    Lovely share, thank you. Am convinced that the regular practice of yoga helps in the effective management of all physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual disorders. Am a strong advocate of the healing potential of yoga.

  6. Fairy Gada says:

    It was really nice to read this. I thought I am the only lazy and lonely writer. And this read was a treatment for me..Thank you for making me a better writer.

  7. Dianna Armstrong says:

    Thank you so much for your words of wisdom . I awoke from a dream this morning . Figuratively and literally. and could not get back to sleep . Your comments gave me hope . I loved writing my whole life and have pranced around it for many years and dabbled here an there. My day job is unfulfilling and I have had signifigant change this year , that is propelling me to shift gears in my life. The internal critic has sabotaged me many times . Your plan has worked for you . I hope to make it work for me . Thank you again from one menopausal woman to another

  8. I agree with this wholeheartedly. In my case, it took cancer (and going into menopause at 34 because of it) to truly free me from the ways I had limited myself. Kudos to you for giving yourself permission to thrive throughout a time most people suffer through. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Thank YOU, Caroline, for sharing. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m awake. I woke from a horrible dream and grabbed a book by Mark Nepo to recalibrate. That helped, but didn’t quite do the trick… I turned on my computer. YOUR SHARE made my day. How amazing that we have this tool ~ this super connector ~ to support each other. When I hear people say no one is “talking” anymore because of computers I smile to myself because I know, for me, that is untrue. I’m talking more than ever. Have an amazing rest of your day.

  9. The “difficult subjects,” as Anita Belli described this topic, evoke the most introspection and emotion and hence provoke the best writing. Menopause, with all its difficulties, was one of the main reasons my writing career took off. Thanks for reminding me of this, Stephanie.

  10. MM Finck says:

    As soon as I saw the title of your article, I knew I needed to read it. It took me two days to get back to it, but it wasn’t ever going to be one of those things that falls away eventually forgotten. Thank you for your honesty. Congratulations on your discoveries and peace. Thank you, WWWB, for existing so that women can share our stories like this one in a safe, supported place.

    I am not yet menopausal, but the older I’ve gotten hormonal fluctuations have wreaked increasing havoc on my life, writing and otherwise. #6 on your list resonated with me. I write every day, but sometimes the longer I am in my own head, the more broken I feel. I’ll get out of it instead!

    This pairing of writing and menopause is so insightful. Yes, I’m aging. I don’t love how that looks on me, but with the wrinkles, should come greater freedom. I’ve amassed much good in my life. I earned the right to take risks. As you said, do it now or do it never. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

    Thank you for sharing your story and advice. Best of luck to you with your projects.

    MM Finck
    Writer, Women’s Book Club Fiction

    • I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you took the time to share. Yes, the compliments are great for my sometimes fragile writer self — but more importantly, you shared things about yourself. I agree, this space is safe – and what a gift that is. I’m honored to have my writing posted here. I have recently shifted to a new place of vulnerability in my writing and the gift is the connection I am making to people on a whole new level. This tool of this virtual world is a great sense of connection. Thank you for that gift this morning and best of luck to you today ~ and always.

      • MM Finck says:

        “This tool of this virtual world is a great sense of connection.” – YES!

        “Thank you for that gift this morning and best of luck to you today ~ and always.” – <3

  11. “Remembering that my unique, divine voice is valuable.” Though I’m just at the beginning of the journey you so eloquently discuss, I think believing in my voice is the hardest part.

    It is fear. As a lifetime lover of words, I know I have things to say but the struggle is believing my words will be of value to anyone else.

    Strangely, as you describe, the further I go on my journey, the more I feel obligated to squash and ignore the fear and just get on with things.

    Action – Action – Action….I love all your tips – thank you!

    • hi suzanne ~ thank you so much for taking the time to comment and connect. i am also a lifetime lover of words ~ and struggle to be brave enough to now write from a vulnerable place. you reaching out and commenting means the world to me. writing is so isolating ~ and your connection will fuel me today. i’m working on a book about yoga that i have been putting off for too long. i’ve always heard that “… really, and why you?…” voice. not today, thanks to you.

      • Stephanie – I seem to get the most lovely replies from writers. Such warm, heartfelt replies. Unfortunately, I’m usually sitting in Panera when they come and then I start getting all misty-eyed and other diners look at me like I’m crazy. I’m sure they’re thinking “who is that crazy lady typing furiously and why is she crying?”

        Without fail, every time I have reached out to another writer, regardless of their level of success or position on the publishing ladder, they have responded with genuine comraderie. I hope your writing goes well today and I’m so glad I read your piece!

        Feeling a little less isolated today – Suzanne

        • hilarious w/ the panera visual. i know when i’m feeling a little isolated i go to a museum ~ just being around people (w/out really having to talk to them…) and inspired by other artists… jut a thought. but BTW, you’re not alone = all the writers here surely are thinking about you today. nice community here.

          • So true about being among people at the museum but not having to talk to them – it’s the ol’ extrovert/introvert conundrum.

            Enjoying the site and the connections – thank you again for the kind words!

  12. Anita Belli says:

    Thanks for writing about this really difficult subject. I too have had a positive outcome creatively to what has been a long and uncomfortable menopause. The journey is tough, but it is worth it, when you get there, for the view

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