I intended to write this post yesterday so it would be up and in your mailboxes this morning, but like so much that has happened this year for me, life got in the way and now I’m writing it way later than I intenended.
I didn’t even know where to start with this post because I’ve been struggling so much with writing that I’m not sure if I’m the right person to be writing blog posts about writing. But I have a commitment to this blog so I am here.
All morning I’ve been trying to think of a subject that I haven’t already covered as I’ve tried to show you both my worry about writing and effort to stay positive about my slump. But the more I thought about it, the lower I felt. But that seems like a post on its own, right?
Hear me out.
I went back and double checked to see when I finished writing my last book: February 15, 2019. Yep. Nearly six whole months since I last wrote new words. And I don’t mean the edits or revisions of said book, just daily words of a new book.
I’ve posted about how many words I’ve written in the past few years and how burnout is a real thing and that I needed a break. And how life can be so stressful and demanding that expecting yourself to be able to be creative isn’t always reasonable so it’s okay to step back. And all of that is true, but there came a point where guilt also set in. Guilt over not writing. Guilt over not producing new content. Guilt over calling myself a writer even as I continue to not write. People I don’t see all the time ask me “how’s the writing going?” or “what are you working on now?” and I cringe and want to snap at them that I’m still on a break. But they don’t deserve to be snapped at. I mean, it’s nice to have people interested, but I don’t want to have the same conversation over and over again about taking some time off. I mean I have double digit titles out there, don’t I deserve a break?
Of course I do. But that doesn’t stop the guilt from eating my brain.
And if you’ve written millions of words in less than a decade, six months off isn’t all that long really. So I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but it’s like telling someone in a depressive episode to just cheer up! I like magic spells, but these don’t work.
If the words aren’t ready, the words aren’t ready. Even if six months feels like a lifetime, like I’m falling behind, like the book sales won’t come when I do finally decide I’m ready again. So I dug my heels into the break.
If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been talking about a new book I wanted to start for some time now. During my break I’ve been trying, desperately, to get that kernel of an idea to blossom, but I haven’t been able to. And it’s been getting to me, ngl.
I write as a job. This is what I do. I should be able to make this happen. And I do have some skeletons of characters and I think I know it’s a revenge story but revenge for what? No idea. Big Bad in the book? Who knows. It is not flourishing like it should.
So I gave myself permission to stop thinking about it. That was hard. It kinda sucked and made me feel even more bummed out about writing than I already did.
But then something kind of amazing happened.
I heard a new voice.
A new character blossomed in my mind. Exploded, really. She’s nothing like the characters I’ve been trying to develop. She doesn’t live in that world or even one next to it. But then her new BFF showed up. Full of sass and jokes. And they had a conversation, then two, and suddenly I know they’re teenagers and the MC has two dads.
I don’t know the full plot yet, but I can see the mistakes being made, the adventures going wrong, the danger looming for them and… I might be kind of excited to write this story?
When I first started out writing I had an idea for a book. It was a story about stuff I know nothing about, but thought it sounded cool. So I tried to write it. I only ever got about 30k words written. And it took me three years to write that. When I finally gave myself permission to give up that idea I had the idea for Earth: Book One in the Elemental Series and the first day I put my fingers to the keys to write that book, I wrote over 9k words. In one day.
This feels like that did.
I haven’t written anything yet. I haven’t even outlined yet. But the guilt is receding. Hope is returning. A new book feels possible again.
And who knows, maybe getting this book out will free up my brain to let me write that other book.
So the moral of the
story post? Sometimes you need time not writing to be able to write and that’s okay. Or something like that.
6 thoughts on “The Struggle is Real. And That’s Okay.”
Reblogged this on The Musings of an Author in Progress.
I’m so glad you have a new idea! I hope it works out for you. Take it slow (or at least slow for you!) as you venture back into plotting and writing. And know I am here as a potential beta reader whenever you are ready.
I have three writer friends currently recovering from burnout, and I’ve seen them struggle, so I’m glad yours seems to be coming to an end. (One lost close family members which precipitated her burnout; one has developed a health condition from working too hard; and the other nearly checked herself into a mental institution.)
I’m trying to avoid all of the above myself, but I have no idea when I will go too far. I keep finding things I want to help with so I keep saying yes. Any tips on knowing when to back off?
That’s a good question. I’m happy to say I stopped myself before doing too much damage mentally or physically. I was terrified I’d given myself carpal tunnel in my right hand for a minute there, and I was very well on the way to it if I hadn’t taken time off. But my anxiety is always screaming ta me that I shouldn’t be taking this time off so it cuts both ways.
In retrospect, I can say there were signs. The biggest one, and one I’m facing trying to get back into the swing of things, was struggling to write an outline. I’ve written so many and they help me so much that they come pretty easily to me, so when the one for the last book in a trilogy was like pulling teeth, I knew something was up. Then it was struggling to get basic, minimum word counts. I usually get 2.5-3k+ on a writing day, not always pushing for 4-5k, but just managing to get 1k was a lot. And some days I couldn’t even do that.
But those were just signs. The damage was done by then. Trying to write 3-4 books a year is what did it. For a while, it was no big deal. Words flowed like water and I took that for granted. I gave into the pressure to write, write, write, publish, publish, publish. Not realizing those fans who demanded that weren’t as numerous as the fans who couldn’t keep up with that. I could have written all that but held back on publishing so quickly even though it didn’t feel fast enough. So you’ll just have to listen to yourself, your muse, you body, and decide what is right for you.
It’s so hard to give yourself permission to let go! I hope your muse is back, and that the words start to flow.
Girl, I feel you so hard! There’s that running joke about how married couples supposedly always tell single people, “Stop looking for love so hard and that’s when it will happen!” Sometimes I feel that way about writing. I’m the single writer looking for my soul-mate story, but the harder I try to make it happen, the farther it feels away. Sometimes it takes giving yourself permission to literally step so far back you wonder if you even have a foot in the door. And that’s when magic happens.
I’m so glad you found your new voice! And also… *grabby hands*
Hahah! Yes to all your points and grabby hands! I’m going to sit down this week and see about starting an outline. Of course it’s been so long since I’ve done even that I’m worried I won’t remember how to outline!