|Posted by heidinorrod on September 20, 2013 at 4:20 PM|
Tales from my writing strike –
Writing can be so frustrating. It can make a person bitter beyond resolve. It can create the biggest jealousy demon you’ve ever seen. It can make you quit. It can make you want to quit. It can make you want to crawl off under a rock and never show your face again. It can make you angry. It can make you mad.
“We are all mad here?” “I’m afraid so - but I’ll tell you a secret all the best people are.” – Good grief Alice! Get out of my head! You too, Hatter! Shoo! GET!!
Ah, but the bad thing is - they both have a point. I think all writers are mad - at least to some point. We have to be, or we wouldn’t keep setting ourselves up to be gluttons for punishment. Because face it, we all dream so highly and so many of us have a very, very long journey ahead of us. A journey of bitterness, hard work, horrid self-doubt and of course rejection, so much rejection, that’s the jaunt we have all consciously chosen to take - the only reasonable explanation is because we are all completely nuts.
Sometimes, it all gets to be too much. It does, at least for me - but I may be very different from everyone else. So, that is why I chose to put myself of a writing strike, which lasted a month in some aspects - read on – –
Writing can easily become an obsession and rightly so. Especially with such things happening like pitch contests and twitter pitch parties, then don’t forget all the bright shiny conferences (either in person or on the internet) - these things call to writers. They make them yearn. They add dead wood to the already flaming fire within writers. (Actually to be fair, it may be easier to say it’s like throwing gasoline on an already out of control fire.) They spark the natural desire for competition that resides in ALL of us, writers or not.
But please don’t misunderstand - I have nothing against these pitch parties. I’m just as guilty as the next person to compete. In fact, a twitter pitch landed me a request, that bled into a revise and resubmit email, which prompted a full manuscript request. I still haven’t heard back from the said agent, but it goes without saying that these sorts of competitions allows a hopeful, dreamy writer to catch an agent or editor’s curiosity. They also help you find potential critique partners and new writing friends. ----- They can also cause A LOT of stress.
Stress weakens anyone’s muse. In fact, I think my muse packed up her bags and took off for Tahiti without me. But before I went on strike to give her a break, she was like an engine misfiring. I’d get blasts of ideas for books, plot twists for said books, and sometimes urges to delete the whole darn thing. Before I chose to break - I started FOUR new novels. Yes, four. And, I’d have to take several hours to count how many pages of notes, brain blasts and sketching out of ideas I had. Then with all the stress, my ugly self doubt demon roared into full swing. Especially when I received notes from a critique partner that was trying to rewrite my book in her own voice, and got exceptionally angry with me for refusing to do EVERYTHING she wanted. Needless to say, that didn’t go very well. ( I think I’ll do an entry on what I think a good CP is in the near future.) I also had a nasty bit of aggravation at the thought that my writing does not fit into ANY genre category specifically. I cannot begin to express how many people ragged me that it would never do any good because I was too far out of the box. It really depressed me to the point of considering never picking up a pen and paper to write a story again.
It was all just too much, and I tucked my memory stick in its case, shut down my computer, hid all of my notebooks, and stayed mostly away from anything to do with writing web sites. And then, I went on strike.
Break down of my strike:
Four weeks ago - I was going insane trying to write down all my muse’s notes on all the ideas she granted me. Not to mention, I was being a good CP and critiquing a fellow writer’s novel.
Three weeks ago - I refused to start anything new, and tucked my memory stick away.
Two weeks ago - I hid my notebooks, shut down my PC and started avoiding writing web sites.
One week ago - I was focusing on things entirely different from writing. I was working on my folk art. Trying to get some outlines done for paintings requested by a local business. I even had a yard sale and started making some herbal concoctions for health. I wasn’t even thinking about writing. I was reading - A LOT. How I managed to do that much reading without thinking like a writer I will never know, but I imagine it was partly because my muse was still in Tahiti. She didn’t even bring me back a postcard. ;-)
Today - I wrote again for the first time. My muse has come home and we are happily working on a new novel with the working title of Twisted Bets. Well, it’s kind of new. It’s one of the ones I was losing my already fragile mind over before my strike. This novel is letting my math nerd come out to play with my writing geek and it’s really becoming fun to write.
So, a month of rehab -
Four weeks of rehabilitation and recuperation for both my muse and my mind, that’s all it took for words to start flowing again. My self doubt dragon has gone back to sleep for now. I’ve situated my ‘I don’t care, I’m gonna write what I want to write’ hat neatly on my head. Then, I picked up my notebook again and a pen. The story is there. It’s waiting patiently for me. My muse has agreed to just take small breaks instead of lengthy vacations away - and this book – This novel, Twisted Bets will be finished. We’ve come to an agreement. ;-)
My advice to you, if you are reading this and feeling some of the same things as I was - Take A Break. It doesn’t have to be a month long. It can be however long it needs to be for you to feel better, for your muse to get in tune with you again. It’s okay to rest. I know that so many of the writing advice columns scream for you to write every day, but you DO NOT HAVE TO. You don’t. The story, the characters, the plots, they will all still be there when you get back. So, take that break if you need it.
Thanks for reading!
Happy writing or breaking depending on which you are doing. ;-)
*Hey, I've even managed to write a nearly 1200 word long blog post. ;-)