And here’s your early morning earworm delivery…
I hope you’ll be humming that all day, and it will remind you of the serious business at hand – that of “making it easy on yourself.”
The first part of this post was, I confess, a little naggy and bossy. A metaphorical boot up the bum to those of you who are out there making excuses for not writing. But sometimes, those excuses you’re making are actually really good ones. Sometimes, you can’t write for a good reason. And you know what? That’s ok too.
This autumn Scott Lynch releases The Republic of Thieves, after a hiatus of six years, lost to depression and anxiety attacks. (He talks about it here, on Fantasy Faction – http://fantasy-faction.com/2013/exclusive-message-for-fantasy-faction-users-from-scott-lynch Luckily he is feeling more upbeat these days, but that kind of illness, or indeed any serious illness, could happen to anyone, at any time, and the last thing you should be doing is beating yourself up about the fact that you’re not writing.
In Summer 2011 I lost my granddad, two work colleagues and a really close friend, within the span of three months. It was very hard to write anything that summer – some people write more when they’re depressed, and good for them, but I can’t, and it would seem Scott Lynch can’t either 😉 The situation was made worse by the fact that I felt I should be writing, and the fact that I felt miserable and guilty for not writing was added to the depression I was already feeling. I had a hard time accepting that it was ok to take a break, to leave the writing until I felt I was up to it, that it would be waiting for me when I felt ready to start working on it again.
And when I started it again it was hard. My routine was shot, all the writing muscles in my brain had seized up through lack of use, I’d forgotten where I had intended to take the story (I think this was towards the end of “Art of Forgetting”, so it wasn’t like I’d only written a few thousand words and could chuck it and start again – I was looking back on around 150k). I think on the first day back at work I wrote two sentences.
On the next day I wrote a few more. By the end of the week I was up to around 200 words (I normally write 1000-1500, on a good day). It took a long time to ease back into it, to regain my flow, to wake up in the morning and feel excited because the words were tumbling out of my head before I’d even had my Frosties (trust me, that doesn’t happen every day!) It took a long time for me to stop beating myself up about being so slack, but eventually I came to realise that it was ok, that it would still be ok, that having a black dog day, or week, or month, was not the end of me as a writer.
So if you’re having a hard time, due to illness, due to stress, due to something more than a fit of the can’t-be-bothered’s – that’s ok. Don’t make it worse by berating yourself for not writing. Take a break. The words will come back, whether it takes three months or three years. Ease yourself gently back into writing, a few lines at a time. Be proud of what you’ve achieved, and what you can achieve, not sad about the time you’ve lost.