Whilst thousands of authors wrote a flurry of words in November thanks to NaNoWriMo, I was sitting on my hands. Why? Because writing had become somewhat of a struggle. I’d fallen out of the habit, I’d lost my mojo and some personal factors had bumped my depression up a notch.
So I set a set-imposed ban on writing.
Now I’m champing at the bit to get going again…
Writing is a funny business. Like many things, there’s an associated guilt that goes along with it, especially when you’ve downed tools for a few moments. Any spare moment you’re not tapping away, you’re thinking you should be. It starts to take over your life. I’m eating dinner and all my mind is doing is – I should be writing. I’m watching a movie – I should be writing. I’m spending time with my loved ones – I should be writing.
And why should I be writing? Because, of course, for those brief few minutes away, the writing world is passing me by, opportunities are slipping through the gaps, getting the next book out and staying away from obscurity is becoming harder. And then, the longer I leave it, the worse it becomes. And, when I’m battling mental illness, the worse the guilt gets, the larger the depression becomes and the more I begin to feel that ‘what’s the point of writing? I’m no good at it. I can’t do it. No one wants to read my work anyway.’ And slowly, but surely, dreams are crushed.
Having gotten to a point where I was laying in bed at night worrying about the fact I wasn’t writing, that my mental blocks prevented me from getting words out, I decided enough was enough. Time for a writing ban.
For those first few days, I was guilt-ridden. It was there in the back of my mind – you need to be writing, you’re wasting time, you’ll never get ahead this way. But these thoughts slowly subsided and I allowed myself to indulge (binge) on Netflix. I spent time with my family. I took the dog for a walk. I allowed myself to sit down and take notes on life goals and plans. I did some DIY. I focussed on other dreams. I even worked on some back-list administration – updating links, changing blurbs, ordering some new covers (yes, CRYO’s getting new covers).
The lack of guilt was LIBERATING.
I’m now excited to write again. I’d forgotten how that feels. I have stories circulating around my mind. I have scenes for RENOVO, CRYO and a new series, knitting themselves together and fleshing themselves out. I’d become so bogged down in attempting to make sales, trying to reach a point where I could earn a living from writing and – I’m going to say it – fighting off that green figure of envy upon seeing friends do well – that I had completely lost the point of what I was doing – getting words to paper and letting my imagination flow.
As the guilt ebbed, so too did the disheartened feeling of seeing a lack of sales, or a poor show of reviews. I also realised just how much stress I’d been putting upon myself.
Tomorrow it’s December 1st and I’m going to be writing. I cannot wait.
2 thoughts on “Taking a Break is as Important as Writing”
Great to see your blog update in my inbox, Geoff. I think you are absolutely right, a break can be just what is needed. I have experienced a difficult writing year myself. My husband has been battling depression and the family have been greatly affected. It has been a hard time and so I can understand your own difficulties.
Writing chooses us, I think. I have always written things down from my earliest days and so I think it is with many writers; we just have to do it! Having said that life and the drive to succeed do sometimes get in the way and it seems you have taken a very sensible option in forcing yourself to take a break.
My own second novel ‘Beneathwood’ is about to be published and that will be a great day for me, there were times when I thought it might never happen!
So glad to hear you are back in the zone again with your writing and rediscovering the joy of it. A head full of ideas is a wonderful thing! Many good wishes for the new writing year!
Lovely to hear from you. I know – I stopped the blog for a while and hid it away because I simply wasn’t able to keep updating. Glad to hear you’ve got Beneathwood on the road to publication. I know how frustrating it is to have a project on the go but not be able to reach the end.
Sorry to hear about your husband. I hope he’s on the road to recovery and learning how to cope with depression; it’s a hard illness on everyone.
Good luck with the release. Let me know when the book’s out!