I am currently between projects. This is an uncomfortable place for me. I tend to juggle multiple works in progress simultaneously–drafting a shiny new idea, revising another, and querying or polishing another. It’s how I began my writing “career” (as of yet unpaid, but I refuse to call it a hobby) and it’s the only way I know how to write.
In November 2015, when I first sat down at my laptop with the stated goal of writing a novel, I started by drafting the openings to two different ideas. One seemed more promising, and I knew just enough to know that I didn’t know enough to tackle a project with potential, so I worked on the other idea for my first NaNoWriMo. The other project eventually became my PitchWars novel. By April, I’d finished that draft, concluded it was, in fact, not worth pursuing, taken two writing classes, and I was ready to draft the other idea.
By fall 2016 I’d written and revised the “good” one, and drafted a significant portion of two sequels that went with it. I know this is verboten in the writing world, but I had to do it because my overarching concept for that book/world involved three intertwined thematically-contrasting storylines… so there. While I revised and took classes in the months leading up to PitchWars 2017, I began a few more stories and drafted half of a YA fantasy. The moment PitchWars ended, I completed the YA fantasy. A few weeks later, I fully drafted my next YA SciFi and submitted it to the Author Mentor Match program, which I was selected for in Spring 2018. Yay!
After my most intense and frustrating revision process thus far, that manuscript is finally finished. At least, for now. As far as I’m concerned, a book isn’t truly finished until it’s officially logged in the Library of Congress, but I’m not messing with it at the moment, so let’s call it “finished.” I’ve begun querying, it’s out in the world, and now it’s time to fall in love with a new story.
And yet… I am adrift.
I have two ideas I’m toying with, but they both refuse to sink their claws into me, in the way I’m used to. The way that wakes me up at night, sets my mind buzzing with ideas, consuming me with the need to get the ideas down before they vanish. Instead, I’m eying both of them like they’re feral cats–cute but I sense getting close won’t end well.
I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m temporarily burnt out. Maybe I’m impatient. (Who, me?) Or, more likely, a few weeks spent traveling and succumbing to the plague isn’t quite enough time to draw conclusions, or to panic.
Okay, I realize that sounds absurdly obvious. I know. My brain knows. My heart is anxious, but my mind realizes that this too, shall pass. I leapt directly from revising the book of my heart during PitchWars, to drafting a 70,000 word fantasy I promptly shelved, to drafting and revising a YA SciFi I immediately submitted to a new mentorship program, and now I’m shocked that the first time I’ve let myself breathe in years, my mind isn’t magically generating an entire new story at record speed. Huh. I would slap myself if I wasn’t myself.
And so, I’m going to give myself the same advice I would give to you, my writer friends, if you came to me with this lament.
Be kind to yourself. Be easy, especially when it’s hard to do so. Read a bunch of books. Watch a lot of movies. Tell your busy brain to slow down and observe for a beat. Inhale some art so that you can exhale your own when you are renewed. You can’t farm barren soil, and you can’t write when you don’t rest. (But you sure can twist up a metaphor, can’t you?) Your brain isn’t broken. Your creativity hasn’t evaporated. Like for an overtaxed muscle or worn-down immune system, recovery is essential if you want to become stronger.
So I won’t wish you happy writing this time, loves. Instead, I’ll wish you happy everything else. Until next time.