I’ve written this and debated whether to post it many a time since it’s so personal.
I don’t have depression, but I do have moments when I’m down, either health-wise, energy-wise or stress-wise. However, I’ve noticed something in these trends. For me, the slumps of life go hand in hand with the slumps of writing, particularly with revisions.
I’ve written a few novels that I’m truly in love with, but I was terrible at beginnings and often had to rework them. I’ve been editing the same novels for years now (won’t tell you how many).
For some reason, I was convinced that I had to perfect these before I deserved to invest time in something new—how dare I write another novel when I haven’t even fixed the ones I’ve got, ingrate.
I dreaded revisions, dragged my feet and made every excuse to do something else because who wants to see those same openings over and over? I’d crave to write, yet the dread sucked away my physical and mental energy.
One of my slumps lasted 6 months once, and I didn’t even notice.
The grief I had after realizing it’d been six months since I wrote anything… I’d put so much pressure on fixing the stories in front of me rather than moving on and writing new ones. But then a novella came to me that refused to go unwritten, and writing that first page pulled me out of that cycle.
There’s something about writing that brings me joy I can’t get from doing anything else. And something about writing gives me stress I don’t get from anywhere else. It’s both the hand that pulls me from the slump, and the one that shoves me into it in the first place.
It pains me when I don’t write.
I can’t imagine not writing. Even if every human being in the world told me they’d never read my work, I’d STILL write because I can’t not. And the inner turmoil from not writing made the stress of everyday life worse.
I’m sure many of you have a hard time when you can’t write because… we’re authors. This is what we do. It’s like telling an athlete they can’t compete, or a chef that they can’t garnish, or a policeman worthy of the badge that he can’t intervene. It physically hurts.
I had to make an excuse to write that novella (it’s not a novel, so it’ll be a quickie). But I realized that was my problem—I was exhausted because I was in a self-induced stasis and the moment I told my guilt to shut up, the world became green again, my problems were no longer mountains, and issues I was dealing with weren’t as big a deal. I was free to write again, and the tulips couldn’t have tasted sweeter.
What I had were slumps and in no way compares to what anyone with depression goes through. I can’t say that this will be effective for those living with depression, but to any and all who are in a writing slump that’s zapping your energy, let me be one of the many voices saying PUT SOMETHING ONTO PAPER.
It’s okay if you’re in the middle of something else, or if you’re revising for the umpteenth time, if you’re tired of looking at the same words on a screen, if you’re tired of experiencing the same opening, or series of openings, that still aren’t there, just WRITE SOMETHING ELSE.
You don’t have to “give up” on that project, per se, but maybe that project can be a later release. Maybe it can be bonus material when other books bring in your audience. It does not have to be your debut, and your debut may not even be your breakthrough.
Think about it, there are manuscripts from famous writers with powerful followings that have never seen the light of day. If their readership found out there was an unpublished “of the first ten I’ve ever written,” how many people would clamor for that bad boy, and how many would actually expect it to be strongly written?
For me, my original books are amazing and powerful, but their beginnings aren’t as strong as chapter two onward. But after writing and critiquing so many manuscripts since then, my style has only gotten better. Why waste my time on something that I believe in, yet am stressed over seeing again when I can churn out new stories that have a chance with minimal editing?
So, this article started as me having slumps in life due to my ducking away from writing and The Realization that I don’t *have* to keep editing the same thing, and has turned into me sharing this news with all of you because there may be someone in that boat.
I don’t have any contracts to deal with, nor am I on a deadline for anything. I’m not “shelving” a project, I’m simply taking an item from my shopping cart (isn’t that what we do, we shop our novels?) and placing it in the “save for later” reserve. There will be a time when these get their moment, but for right now, I’m revitalizing my energy by aiming at something else.
You must be logged in to post a comment.