Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Of hair pulling and running in circles


I love reading this blog when other authors talk about the pain of writing. Not the carpal tunnel (which I've had), or the achy back from sitting down with a laptop on your thighs for hours on end, but the mental anguish that comes from trying to write a book. Because it makes me feel just a little bit better.

I write fast. Or, at least I used to think I wrote fast. My first book took three months from idea to completion. My second took five months (they were both adult novels). My teen books have never taken more than five months to write and my last one took a mere two and half (mostly because I feared missing my deadline, and I'm afraid of editors). Then I took some time off. I needed a rest after writing four books in a year. And I think that was a HUGE mistake.

I'm not a marathon runner. I'm a sprinter. I knew that (literally, I can't run more than a 5k without losing my mind from boredom). So what happens when a sprinter decides to take a little time off and then puts on her sneakers to run again? She wants to take off like a bullet. But she also feels terribly out of shape. She feels like she forgot how to walk, no less run. Her sneakers feel uncomfortable and give her blisters. And she wants to cry.

I started writing my current novel in earnest in September (I'm not a summer writer). I'd been noodling it around in my head for at least a year, jotting down notes and ideas. And now it's March. Shouldn't I have a book by now? Or at least feel like I'm nearing the finish line? Instead I'm all messed up. I've lost my mojo. Broken my stride. Getting back on the horse after you haven't even been near the stable in over a year is hard.

So I'm 61k words into it and still feeling a tad wobbly. When it's good it's a blast. When it's bad I start to wonder if I just plain forgot how to write. But I continue to type and tell a story and hope some day soon it all makes sense. And I can promise you this - I will never, ever take a writing break again.

9 comments:

  1. Oh girlfriend, how I feel your pain. I was in exactly the same boat-- I was able to write books, start to finish, in anywhere from two months to six months.

    Then the nightmare with STARS and its cancellation by the original publisher happened and I came to a screeching halt. And I've yet to completely regain my groove. I will totally make a deal with you that neither of us take lengthy breaks, like, EVER.

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  2. You're absolutely not alone. If I take just one week away from writing, it takes me at least a month to get the flow going again. Best wishes as you keep pushing forward!

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  3. Why do we always compare our current situation with our past success. I, too, face some of your struggles. Especially the timing. My first book was written in one year, I am one year and two months into the second book and I think I've failed my readers for not getting the sequel out sooner. Actually today is the anniversary my first book was ready for the publics eyes. What gets me through the mind beatings is to remind myself that I'm writing because I enjoy telling a story and I want to tell the best story I can. Stop putting artificial time frames on yourself, I'm sure you didn't have them when writing your first book. Try and enjoy the process.

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  4. I love the way you compare writing to running, sprinting, and marathoning. So true!

    I took a writing break myself and I'm still having a hard time getting back on track. Once I do get back in the swing of things, I think I'll follow your lead and not take a break again, either! It's easier that way!

    Best of luck to you...

    Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

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  5. I'm usually a fast writer, too. I've been working on my current WIP for just over three months now, and it feels like forever. Not sure why this one wants to simmer instead of boil, but whatever, I just go with it. Here's hoping we both reach the finish line soon!

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  6. I keep telling myself: it's taking longer because it's SO much better!! Your expectations are higher!! You're challenging yourself!! You've left your comfort zone!!!

    But at the end of the day I think: Man, I just suck.

    And sucking for months on end is WAY worse than sucking for just a few months.

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  7. I beat myself up too. While I'm typing away, I sometimes read a line and think it's pretty good stuff. Ten minutes later I read it and cringe. One of the joys of being a writer!

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  8. You're writing mojo will come back! I know this.

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