|Source: Nasty case of writer's block creates the |
most brilliant scientific paper ever.
Most of the time, this feeling only lasts for a day. But to my horror, it can last for weeks or months at a time. This is the worst, because it makes me question if I'm really meant to be a writer if I can lose my passion for it for such a long time. Shouldn't I be obsessed with writing? Shouldn't I rather write than watch old episodes of Scrubs on Netflix?
Furthermore, I read way too many agent and writer blogs that talk about what is expected of writers these days. Agents don't just want to hear about the project you're pitching them. They want to know that you're already a good amount into writing a second book and have a great idea for a third. They want to know that you are hungry for a career, not just looking to make a profit from one measly book.
Hearing things like this is discouraging. First of all, knowing that very few writers get to actually quit their full-time jobs and just write, where would anyone find that kind of time? But people do it. People with full-time jobs AND kids. I am an unmarried mother of three plants that are constantly on the verge of death, and yet I can't imagine churning out that much material. And then I feel bad about it, like I'm destined for a dismal (or non-existent) career.
But at the Writers Meet Agents conference sponsored by the League of Vermont Writers, I met a guy who experiences the same thing. In fact, it took him five years to complete his manuscript, and he (like myself) still feels like it could use more work. (Hint, it can ALWAYS use more work). But rather than freak out and beat himself up and question his own credibility, he - get this - ACCEPTS it.
Yeah. When he doesn't feel like writing, when the thought of trying to write is akin to that of jamming a sharp pencil through his eyeball, he just doesn't. He thinks of it as part of his process. It's his brain telling him his batteries are drained and he needs some time to recharge his creativity.
I was floored.
It has recently come to my attention that I am very hard on myself. I balk at suggestions of this. After all, if I were hard on myself, wouldn't I be stick thin, working in a high powered career, with three published books under my belt?
Turns out no. Upon further investigation (basically what my therapist tells me), Type A-ish people like me are, consciously or unconsciously, severely critical of themselves to the point that if they are not perfect, they would rather do nothing than do something and not be the BEST at it. So when you receive criticism, or do something that doesn't live up to your own or someone else's high standards (bound to happen, as a human and not a robot), it can give us anxiety and drive us down into depression, which saps all your energy and drive, thus furthering the cycle.
So I'm learning this about myself, but only at the beginning stages, and I'm not at all sure how to stop it. But meeting this guy was like a giant fluorescent sign flashing "You're doing it again. Yeah, you, the one who refuses to give herself a break." And thinking of it in terms of my brain forcing me to recharge the batteries, rather than me losing my passion, is a much healthier way to approach it. I am simply not a person who can work from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. I needs me some down time. Why do you think I'm in no rush for a kid, the ultimate time suck?
Maybe the expectations of writers these days IS high. Maybe they ARE expected to pump out novels like hotcakes. Maybe the most successful ones DO. But does that mean I have to? Does that mean I'll never have a career in this? Does it have to be all or nothing?
No. It doesn't.
It is perhaps an inconvenience, a hinderence as far as how long it might take me to get published or my ability to make as much money as possible when I am. But at least for now, when I'm not being paid to do this and I'm not under deadline, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm a slacker either. And the fact that I always come back to it, that I've stuck with this book after going through several periods like this, should tell me that I can place a little faith in myself, and that it is something I'm passionate about even if it's not every second of every day.