I shared a tune a while ago by Canadian folkists, The East Pointers, and I’m going to share another one today. I highly recommend checking them out, especially if you’re into instrumental folk music, as they always brighten my day whenever I listen to them. This one is called Cold, which it certainly is in Melbourne today.
Current chain of writing days: 5
My chain of writing days is once more in single digits.
This has happened for a number of reasons. The first is that last weekend I was exceptionally busy. From getting up last Saturday to going to sleep I was nonstop and while I could have set my alarm an hour earlier to write before it all kicked off, my heart wasn’t in it (it wanted sleep instead). Sunday was much the same, and when I finally did make it home my head was too dry and exhausted to try and squeeze any juice out of it.
The second reason is that I’ve hit a bit of a wall in the story I’m currently working on. It’s the one I revamped a few weeks ago and for the most part it was going along really well, but now I’m not so sure. Mostly, I think I’m overthinking it. This one is a horror novella that will be paired with three other novellas written by my podcasting pals, Sean, Gabe, and Tom, with the plan for us to put them all together as an anthology novel which we’ll then sell to any interested parties. Like I said I’m fairly confident my brain was doing me a disservice by second guessing itself at every given opportunity, and I even think I know the cause. This work already has an audience. Granted, the audience is (for now) just my mates, but even still, that’s new. In the past when I’ve written it’s just been for me and if it turned out to be the kind of garbage-writing even actual garbage wouldn’t be friends with, well, I didn’t have to show it to anybody. So, this series of facts has caused me to slow down as well.
The final reason is that I just got into a mental lull. A day or two off had been building over the last few weeks as my brain had been making it hard to give up the goods whenever I sat down to write. I was still getting words down, and some of them were nice, but it was becoming more of a challenge, and I found myself dreading trying to pull sentences from my mind. So, that’s what I thought I would talk about today, the idea of someone who wants to be a writer temporarily not wanting to write.
From all the writerly blogs I follow and articles I read I am assured that this often happens, even to some of the most respected writers, but I still find it a hard thing to accept. Not only is it frustrating, there’s also an attached guilt for not having reached my daily word limit. I think part of the issue is that I’m so new to the practice. This makes it tougher to know if I’m going through a lull, or if I’m just being lazy, or if I don’t have what it takes. Without the decades of practice behind me it’s harder to say, ‘Oh, it’s a lull, I just need to wait it out.’ Ultimately though, that’s what I think it is.
It happens, we’re in a constant flow of ups and downs, cycles and spirals, which means there are days where I just need to give myself a break (this goes for all things, not just writing). The challenge is to recognise that I’m riding a downward slope and then put things on pause until I start riding back up again. Wait until my internal chemistry reconfigures so that I once more feel up to the task.
Of course, the question then becomes what to do why you’re waiting. This I don’t have a good answer for. Twiddling my thumbs while I wait for my mojo to come back is just as frustrating as not having the mojo in the first place, especially if there’s a time limit on the project. Like I said I don’t have a great answer but what I have been doing is writing through the problem, by which I mean writing down my train of thought as though I’m talking to myself. I put down on the page a literal conversation where I address all the issues I’m currently having with the story, give them form and, if possible, answers. Sometimes it can lead to real breakthroughs, other times it can shine a light on where the problem lays – in this case, my overthinking. By writing down all my concerns I could see that most of them could be solved with the simple adage, fix it in the second draft.
So, that’s where I am. I’m not completely through the lull but it’s rising (putting out this blog is some proof of that) and I hope it will continue rising, at least until the next lull, because that’s the important thing to remember; there will always be a next one, and that’s okay.
In the meantime I have a new personal best in the day’s-written-in-a-row category, which is sixty. It’s my new number to beat. Might as well start now.