I had quite the stunning revelation earlier this month.
I didn't enjoy writing.
Somewhere along the way, putting my fingers to the keyboard to work on my WIP went from being a fun sort of challenge to a bout of near-misery.
With the exception of three months for my wedding/honeymoon, I hadn't stopped writing seriously since September 2007 -- over four years of considering every spare moment a writing opportunity.
And eventually, my self-induced pressure to create! and create more! and create better! and create faster! turned my life's passion into something I dreaded. (And it made me a crappy writer.)
I lost the fun. I lost the spark, and I didn't even have external pressures (like, oh, agent or editor deadlines) bearing down on me!
I was crushed.
Writing, whether it was short stories or terrible poetry or diary entries or novels, had been my escape for almost twenty years, and I had somehow ruined it for myself.
It was time to take drastic action.
I needed to fall in love with writing again.
I needed inspiration.
Going back to the things that made me love inventing stories in the first place was the key. Reading great novels and planning trips to new places (Montreal, Australia, and the Blue Ridge Mountains), watching addictive TV shows, spending time with friends, and just enjoying life was more refreshing than I could've imagined.
I didn't miss the guilt.
For months now, if I chose to use my spare time to do anything other than writing my novel or a blog post, I felt like a failure. Like I wasn't dedicated enough. Like I would never get published. Because writing takes HARD WORK, so if you aren't ALWAYS WORKING HARD, you won't succeed.
(Did I ever tell you guys how intense I can get?)
Lifelong overachievers like myself are quite awesome at building up soul-sucking levels of internal pressure. To a degree, that motivation is a positive thing. Too much, and you turn your life's passion into torment.
The good news? My de-torment-ify-ing experiment worked. It's been a handful of weeks, and though I never really stopped thinking about my novel (I'm a writer through and through, after all), my fingers are starting to itch for the keyboard. (Hence this blog post.)
So if you find yourself in a black hole of writing despair: It's ok to take a break. It's ok to walk away from the computer for days at a time. Life is not about absolutes. It's not all-or-nothing. There's nothing wrong with taking a step back every once in awhile. Remembering why you started writing in the first place. Reviving your motivation.
For the first time in too long, I'm anticipating that feeling you get when you can't sleep because words are buzzing around in your mind, in your dreams even, begging to be written down.
When you count down to the next time you can sit at the computer and type type type until your foot falls asleep and your back is stiff and you're so in the zone that Pandora has to ask you if you're still listening.
When you stare at an unmoving cursor for an hour until you finally have a breakthrough and discover that you've fixed the previously unfixable.
I miss that.
I'm almost ready to begin again.