Recharge

I wasn’t sure if I should write this post, but to be honest, I’ve suffered a serious case of writers block since January. A combination of the overexertion, physical pain, going from one bout of the flu the next, house hunting, and an unhealthy dose of writing unrelated stress, hit me pretty badly.

In the past I’ve been able to power through writers block by writing more. New ideas would always get me excited, and reading would set off fireworks in my brain. But reading lost its pleasure, and writing felt flat. Though I’d get new ideas, nothing excited, and it’s been pure drudgery.

I tried a number of things which didn’t work. I tried taking a break, which grew from one month to two. I tried writing a simple short story, but the process frustrated me to the point of tears. I tried to find ways to make writing fun again, but my go-to tricks (dancing like a fool and lighting candles) stopped working. I tried being creative in other ways. I sewed and I baked, but I was still dead tired.

You know what I realized? Sometimes its not the writing that’s the problem, but life.

I needed to take care of the other commitments first. This runs totally contradictory to some advice that you see online: make writing a priority, write everyday. That advice works for some people, but I was driving myself crazy with it. I was making myself unhealthy trying to achieve this.

I’m still working on finding balance, and I suspect that’s something I’ll keep refining as life changes. I’ve made the mistake of over-committing myself until the end of June, and until then something has to give. For now writing takes a back seat. Thankfully, at this point I don’t depend on writing fiction for income, so I do have that option.

Funny, just making that decision has lifted a great deal of stress off my shoulders, and I think I might have enough energy to write a little for fun. That’s how writing should feel, right?

25 thoughts on “Recharge

  1. I have a guest post about this topic going up on Ollin Morales’ blog tomorrow… Your approach maps well to my basic advice: when life gets in the way, take care of life, and when you’re done with that, get back on the writing horse. I don’t think it’s necessary to power through the difficulties of life and keep writing if it drains you out. I think it’s okay to take a break, as long as we promise ourselves we’ll get back to it when we’re able, and then keep that promise.

    1. I think so too. There’s a difference between procrastination/avoidance, and really not having the time. There are more important things than writing, like family, and health (mentally, emotionally, physically). Will look for that post tomorrow!

  2. That’s exactly how it should be. When I have regular writer’s block, I can always write through it, but I have had to take “life” breaks before. I can’t stop working, being a girlfriend or a mom, but I can always stop writing for a period. I don’t have deadlines right now and I have to take care of me first. There’s no shame in that.

  3. Very good thinking. Deciding that “writing takes priority” is one thing when the other option is spending endless time on Facebook, for example. It’s something else when we face illness, or the need to make a living, or relationship demands, or kids, or maybe all of the above. Two years ago I had a close family member who nearly died and spent several months in the hospital. I had to be there every day, both for companionship and to help make decisions. Plus going to work every day. Was writing my priority at that point? Hell, no.

    I think you’re on the right track. Deal with the things that need to be dealt with and the situation for writing will improve. (Plus, you’ll be learning and experiencing things that you can draw on later — who wants to read stories written by a writer who doesn’t do anything but write? I spent all that time in hospitals, so now I’ve written two murder mysteries set in hospitals. :-) )

  4. Hey if you ever want some company with your breaks. I’m up for hanging out! I’m making a routine for myself to go swimming at Kit’s pool on Saturday morning. If you ever fancy a bike ride, nice swim, and hanging out on a warm day…Let me know. I started to bake:) my roommate likes the chocolate cookies I made. I’ll bring snacks on our outing!

  5. You’re right. Writing should be fun. You point out the macro-level get your life in hand first so you can write, but it also happens at the micro-level for me. If I’ve got something that I can’t stop thinking about regarding my dayjob (in my case this is drama that needs to get de-fanged before someone gets bit) it will often result in making it impossible for me to write afterwards. This isn’t I have to have all my work finished (unfortunately, I never will have my dayjob work complete… I just work on the items that others can’t or won’t work on that have strategic importance) but rather that I sometimes get so worked up over something that it needs to be resolved before I can get writing accomplished.

    Best wishes rechargin’!

  6. I hear you. I lost it yesterday in complete frustration. I have an awesome job that pays very well, but I’m traveling all over God’s creation every single day. When I do get home after three days out of town, I’m exhausted and I do want to spend time with my kids after being away.

    Had a total breakdown. But I just have to do the best I can and prioritize. Sometimes that means not writing for a few days, which sucks. I do bring a notebook for ideas, though, if something strikes me.

    1. I get the opposite side of that. E’s been traveling a lot for work latrely, and its been tough having to take care of everything alone. It would be harder if we had kids. Being on the verge of breakdown is not a good thing! I can relate though :(

  7. Right there with you, Theresa. :)

    Sometimes life can be so overwhelming that it’s impossible to focus on something such as writing fiction. I guess sometimes longer periods of “writer’s block” may be just our brain’s way of telling us, “Hey! There’s stuff over in the real world that needs attention!”

  8. You have to find out what works for you and go with it. It’s like finding your own flow in life and letting yourself enjoy it.

  9. For someone who’s trudging through writer’s block, that was a particularly moving piece. I’ve been having some flat-writer-itis as of late too, and sometimes all it takes is a random thought-key that you’re missing to bring your writing to life again. Maybe your character needs more life. Your scenery more color. Your story more humanity. Sometimes we can’t put a finger on what it is until we step back, look at our story, and try to think without words.

  10. Thanks for being honest about this. I’m sure many writers need to take long breaks – they just don’t all admit to it. To say that writing is tough is a massive understatement and before your current block you’d been working hard for a long time – you’d finished draft 7 of your novel! No-one can sustain that level of productivity. To be honest, I’ve thought you something of a super-woman since following your blog – you always seem to be churning out the words. I’m envious of your commitment. In a way it’s good to know you’re struggling, too! Good because it’s reassuring but also because I know you’ll be back on track in no time.

    1. It only seems like I’m that productive because I don’t usually talk about the bad days, and only the progress LOL I need to be better at balance, but I know I’ll figure it out. Thanks Louise!

  11. Physical pain is the absolute worst, Theresa. I wanted to wait a week and see how things developed for you before commenting. I hope you’re getting the mental and emotional rest you deserve. If you are writing again, I certainly hope it’s fun.

    1. No writing yet, but most of the physical pain is minimal now. I do, however, have to reduce sitting as much as possible. I’m not used to standing at a desk yet, so I get tired fast. Hrm, maybe if I get a really tall stool… Thanks John.

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