There’s this thing that happens sometimes when you push yourself too hard or aren’t being honest with yourself. It’s called burnout. It may also be called writer’s block. Take your pick.
I prefer the first term, because to my mind this is an overall issue. Writing and writing well is dependent on the balance of your entire life. It doesn’t occur in isolation. You don’t have a separate reservoir of writing energy that remains untapped no matter what other activities you get up to. The opportunity cost inherent in living each and every day remains no matter how much you really want to finish that book. Sometimes especially if you really want to finish that book.
Today, I sat down at my computer and wrote around 150 words. That was it. 150 words towards my end goal of 100,000. Meaning that if I wrote 150 words every day, I’d still have like 600 days of writing left. Which is two years. Two years of writing. It’s less than that because I’m already down to 75,000 word to go, but still. That still is like 1.5 years. I’m supposed to be doing about twice that. Hell, maybe three times that.
To be honest I have been over writing this book since I started. Don’t misunderstand. I want to write the book. But my passion for the world is not quite there. I am not quite in the place I need to be to write this book, mentally, emotionally, what have you. That said, I am WRITING THE DAMN THING. I have the whole damn book outlined and mapped out, I have made it this far, and I am going to freaking GO FOR IT.
Suitably, I have recently received some great advice on the subject.
You may or may not listen to Writing Excuses, a podcast run by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal, as well as Dan Wells and Howard Tayler. I’m pretty sure these people write full-time. I had a wonderful epoch of my life that lasted about three months or so where I was writing full-time. I finished a whole book in three months. There have also been a few blessed breaks in my time as a college student during which I could crank out half of a manuscript or so. But having a full-time day job is a hard sell for a writer, especially when I use all the same skills in my day job that I do for writing fiction. It often means that, by the time I get home or get to a place where I could write, my brain is as crispy as an overdone piece of toast. This is burnout. This is the place I live right now. The Writing Excuses team did a whole piece on this. It is called Newton’s Laws of Writing. You should totally check it out, but I will sum it up below.
Writing has momentum.
See, I’ve proven this fact with this post! Here I have already written 500 words! Really, though, the theory here is that once you start, it is hard to stop. The greatest threat to the writer is long absences from the page. Even if you only write for 10 minutes, only scrape out a sentence or a paragraph, the thing that keeps you going is to return to the page, again and again.
So, with that said….
…here I go.