I’ve stopped. It’s been coming for a while. It wasn’t intentional at a conscious level, although I suspect my unconscious knew exactly what it was doing. I actually feel all right. Not elated, but not desperate either and most importantly I feel better than I did when I was doing it.
I’m talking about writing of course, or more specifically writing to get published. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of why I was writing in the first place. I don’t know whether this is a hiatus or something more permanent. I am trying not to think about it because I think that is what I need to do (or not do). I do know before I stopped I was crabby and bitter rewriting the same novel over and over because the thought of starting something new seemed pointless. Everywhere I looked success was happening to other people. If I could only cut out the excess words, make this character nicer, show not tell better I would make it too. I would get published. Each rejection scored deeper than the last until I began not only to hate everything I wrote but also myself for having the audacity to think I could write at all.
It’s been nearly two month since I last ‘wrote’ anything, and by that I mean rewrote/ tweaked/ added to something I had already written. I haven’t actually written anything new for over a year other than fragments, which I haven’t been able to finish; a massive red flag, which I completely failed to notice while in the grip of self-loathing and envy.
It’s been a relief to still those derisive, berating, destructive thoughts. To say ENOUGH!
It may well be the case that the only difference between a successful author and failed writer is the former didn’t give up, but equally doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.
I’m sort of waiting but not waiting at the same time. I may never get that full on first time rush again, but I’ve decided, by not deciding, to leave it up to my unconscious; the place where my writing comes from, but it is also where my dark, destructive thoughts arise.
In the meantime I will read and read and read some more. I love books. I love brilliant characters. I love where fiction takes me. I will not read to analyse and dissect, but for the utter joy of it. I will support my fellow writers when they get their break without envy or regret. I will learn to love the craft again.
If I am meant to write I will write, but this time I won’t worry about what it is, or how many words it is supposed to have. I won’t worry about POV or motivation or whether the characters are likeable. I won’t worry about finishing it, sharing it, or even liking it. And, atrocious simile or not, I will stop wearing my writing like a hair shirt and wear it like a silk scarf instead – casually, lightly and most importantly of all for the sheer delight of it.
I’ve not so much stopped writing as stopped head butting the wall.
Any other writers out there reached this point? If so, what happened next for you?