Sorry I have been gone for so long! Have taken a break from fiction writing for the past few months because I found myself obsessively revising my novel and older short stories. I became stuck in a kind of “judgment whirlpool” in which nothing I had written seemed good enough. I had about 15 versions of just about everything — the literary form of hoarding. Realized that I needed to STOP!
So, I did some painting — am still doing some drawing and painting for fun — and recently started a kind of freewriting-poetry-thing. Basically, I just write down whatever I’m thinking in poetic form, rather than worrying about whole sentences, grammar, etc… I don’t edit. And I don’t censor myself. If I feel like deleting these “poems” at any point, I give myself permission to do that, rather than numbering them and saving 50 different versions on my hard drive.
So far, it’s been fun to see what images pop up from my subconscious, sort of like writing down your dreams! Later, I analyze my poem to see if anything resonates. If not, that’s okay, no pressure. That’s the whole point of this break — to take the pressure off myself to write for a specific genre (mystery? YA? literary?) and to a specific audience (12 year olds? adults? women?). I was so busy focusing on getting published, whether independently or “traditionally,” and trying to “brand” myself and my writing that I lost track of what I wanted to say in the first place!
Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel and quitting writing? It’s a scary prospect, but at the same time kind of freeing. I realized that I don’t have to identify myself solely as a “writer.” I can just be someone who likes to write!
Great blog post, I’m glad the break from writing and editing is going well. I think a break can do wonders when you’re stuck or in a loop of editing way too much. Poems are great to try and write as well.
I’ve never thought of just throwing in the towel when it comes to writing, but I do think that when anything that is meant to be creative and fun and bring your soul or mind to life while in the moment of doing it, becomes stressful and not fun any more then a break is in order, then if going back don’t work maybe to stopping and finding a path that makes oneself happy is the right way to go. (But it will always be there to come back to even in years.)
I also think it’s important to write what you have to say, what your characters want to say instead of trying to fit it all in to labels. It helps sometimes to think of the first piece of writing or novel oneself wrote and remember that freeing feeling of just following the flow and the characters before it was ever shown to any one else or put labels on, because I think that them moments when writing just takes you somewhere anywhere in ones mind without a thought for anything out side the story helps bring back that writers magic that sometimes gets lost with too much know-how and thinking ahead if that makes sense. That’s what I think of if my mind become over over crowded is the love and joy of those moment.
Oh my I have rambled oops!
I hope you have a lovely week.
Hi Katie, thank you, so well put! Yes, I feel that way exactly — my first drafts are the ones where I felt the freedom of just getting down all my ideas. In fact, I’ve realized over the years that the first draft is my favorite part because that’s where I feel the “magic” the most! About a week ago, I went back and deleted some of my revisions and went back to the original stories and found they were actually pretty good! I had sort of revised the life out of them, based on others’ comments and my own doubts. It’s so good to hear from you and Marianne and Ruth and know that I’m not the only one who goes through this — it seems obvious, but I suppose when you are going through it, it feels like you are the only one! 🙂
Have a great weekend!
Hi Louisa, glad you are back and still writing 🙂 I think most writers go through what you have gone through/are going through … sort of tunnel vision about what is okay and is not okay to write, and totally fed up with trying and “apparently” not getting anywhere – and being hard on ourself as a consequence! And juggling the writing with the very demanding job of self marketing/self-pubbing, is not easy. The best way to cope when the demands of the two cause such a blurring of objectives that you don’t know which way is up, is (I think) to do what you have done and have a time-out and try other stuff (how did you enjoy the painting?). Being someone who likes to write is a good way forward. Write first. Then think about the other stuff later, when you have the time. I read somewhere (and I can’t remember where) that we writers get way too hung up about our first novels. According to the article we should try and worry less and write more. Great post, thanks for making me think.
ps- that’s some sound advice from Katie! 🙂
Hi Marianne, thanks for your feedback! Yes, I’m realizing that all writers must go through a “block” at some stage. It is new for me because up until this point, I have always had something I wanted to write about, so I never though of myself as having “writer’s block.” But I see now that when writing has lost the “magic” (as Katie so well put it!), that definitely stops you writing. I just hope to get back to the “magic” stage! 🙂
After finishing TSF I had big plans of what I would write next, but I couldn’t get back into it. I tired writing exercises, and diary writing until I came to a stop. This has now lasted months, and so I’ve not forced it, done other things and hoped it would soon come back. Then, yesterday, while suffering from a nasty infection I thought about one of my original ideas I’d given up on, and instead found another way in. I’ve still not put words into the laptop, but am writing notes in my journal. I suppose what I’m saying, is you’ll get there, from what I’ve read you are a fantastic writer and soon you will be back enjoying it.
Ps. I find painting great for relaxing, and seeing problems in another way. How are you finding it?
Hi Ruth, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It helps to know that what I’m going through is actually pretty normal for most writers! You make a good point about tackling ideas from another angle. I’m finding that painting is helping me do that — it is very relaxing, as you say, and frees me up to just be creative and not worry about getting it “perfect.” I’m trying to apply that attitude to my writing, too.