I've been a very bad blogger these last several months, missing days, and frankly, phoning it in on others. Not just here, either, but on the other three group blogs I belong to as well. I owe all of you an apology for that.
My dirtier little secret, though, is that during those same months, I haven't been any more productive as a writer. Really, it's been almost a year since I put any significant number of words down. At that point, we're talking about more than mere writers' block.
I've tried all the writers' block "cures." Mind games. Timers. Word count goals. Hell, even NANO, which should tell you exactly how long it's been. Walking it off. Changing up writing locale or rituals. BICHOK. Nothing worked. Partly, I think, because I hadn't yet realized the difference between block and burnout.
A few years ago, I released 14 books in a year. In eight years as a published author I've sold 53 novels, short stories and novellas. 1 will come out in November, one is in edits, and one is the book that just won't be written. The one I've been trying to write for almost a year. And before you say, "ditch it and write something else," that didn't work either. Nothing wanted to be written this year. Nothing. So I took some time to really examine the situation, and my life as a
whole. That's when I realized it wasn't block. I have a serious case of
Some of that, I think,is because writing, especially writing romance, IS emotional. It's draining. Eventually you run out of energy. I'd been writing a lot, and fast. Burnout was probably inevitable. Other reasons include a spate of rejections, making me seriously doubt my ability as a writer. Finally, there were other, unrelated stressors going on in my life. Things in our household have been a little more difficult than usual this past year, draining even more of my creative juices. Truthfully, I haven't even wanted to read much lately, which almost never happens to me.
So what the hell is a writer supposed to do? I'm not exactly in a position to run out and get a day job. Positions in my former career as a naturalist are few and far between, plus I can't really hike for a living like I did up to seven years ago. My new profession is a lot kinder to my ankles, knees, and hips which are all pretty much shot. Besides, I love writing. I love being a writer. I don't want to be a greeter at WalMart or a substitute schoolteacher (another former fallback position.) Therefore it's time to come up with a PLAN.
So, here's the plan.
Step 1: Cut myself some slack. It's time to stop beating myself up about the past year, so that self-disgust quits being one of the stressors. It happened. Move on.
Step 2: Write. As much as I can, as often as I can. In small bits, if necessary. But I'm trying now to write at least a page every day. Baby steps are still steps.
Step3: Mix it up. Yes, I still have the major contracted project to work on, but I'm adding in some small, short fun projects. That way, I can write whichever the mood suits, which will make it feel less like work. Also, if I finish one or two of the small projects, I'll have SOME sense of accomplishment, which might build more momentum.
Step 4: Ask for help. I have to remind myself it's okay to ask for a little encouragement now and then. That's what my writer friends are for, right?
So if any of you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I can't be the only one who's ever doubted themselves or run out of steam. Thanks for listening!