Confessions

by Neeks

I haven’t written on my blog for almost a full year now. I need to do some stories for various things and find myself more often than not peeling grapes just to get out of doing the writing that I profess to love doing.

Writer’s block? I don‘t know. I still do the magazine articles I need to do. I’ve submitted them way ahead of deadline and they’ve been more creative than ever (over 3 years now and I haven’t been late yet, thank heavens). I’ve entered contests and trying to remember to do the bits on Fridays for the 100 word prompt… but somehow that’s all I have to say. I got an honorable mention in a short story contest, which was cool.

I did Nano in 2012. I haven’t touched the file since November 31st. The icon sits on my desktop and shames me every time I turn my computer on. “Go ahead, check your email, I’ll just siiiiiiiit here. No really, don’t worry about me…”

I cared enough to get it started, cared enough to write it. And what about the blog? I really worked on it for an almost a year. Those short stories were hard-won, each one taking several days, lots of rewrites and editing before being posted. This done around a full-time job, single-parenthood and everything else we clutter our lives up with.

Toward the end though, I have to admit, it became a chore. Every single week I debated whether or not to post one or two stories. I relished the holidays, I could have an excuse then not to post. I felt SO guilty about it. I felt as though I as letting not only my readers down, but myself as well. Finally I quit.

I wanted to spend some time entering a few contests and I did that, but mostly I lived and wrote nothing. Having been gone so long now I can tell you, the sheer volume of non response tells me that for the most part, all the bloggers that loved my blog quickly (light speed!) forgot about me once I stopped visiting theirs. It also told me of some wonderful new friends I had made: Beth and the Limebirds, Calvin, Desi and Virginia to name just a few.

All of this leads me to my conclusion: I’ve burned out. I tried so hard for so long that now the thought of going to my blog makes me click on “Super Text Twist” faster than you can bat an eye (I figure if I’m going to be skipping my writing to play a game it should at least involve word use). For now, I’m going to rest, take in life experiences and just… be.

Confess! Do you ever get tired of the struggle? Do you beat yourself up over it? How do you let go of the guilt?

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38 Comments to “Confessions”

  1. That’s a really good and honest post, thanks for sharing. Yep, burn-out is part of the hideous “brand building” all wrtiers are supposed to do, and I hoenstly don’t think any writer should reproach themselves for it – it happens, and in our shiny, sparkly ADHD-driven world, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
    I’ve burned out a couple of times, and understand it (myself) better now. Certainly, if I can’t write decent content for my blog, then it’s better to write nothing. Mostly I just need to take a few days off of the internet, have a rest, and then can cope with coming back to it. I think if you look at the most successful blogs, they’re written by people with enough free time – retirees, young people without kids, etc. I have 3 kids and a full-time job, in addtion to trying to write and promote novels, but I still try to put the real world first.
    The Nano file certainly should make you feel bad – it’s always good to let a story “settle” and come back to it later. Try to think of it as a special story that’s going to make you very proud when you get back to it – good luck!

    • Thank you Chris, I’ve never burned out before, not like this. I sit down to write and it’s not just that I can’t think of something to write about because there’s always something to write about, it’s just that I really don’t want to do it. A weird feeling for me, to be sure!

  2. I’d like to echo Chris James’ comments about the honesty of this post. It’s perfectly OK to give oneself some space to let the well fill up again. Of course, families, relationships and jobs must come first in our lives. One book that’s been very helpful to me in staying focused has been “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield (Gates of Fire, The Legend of Bagger Vance, etc.) Pressfield writes about what he calls “Resistance,” which is the negative force that any creative effort encounters. There are great tips about recognizing and overcoming Resistance. It is a very inspirational book that may be helpful to any writer who is “stuck.” I know it has been helpful to me 🙂

    • David I appreciate your kind words too, that’s one thing about me and I’m afraid it’s a little off-putting at times, I say it like it is. Exactly like it is. I could never be honest with others if I wasn’t honest with myself first.
      The book sounds interesting, I may give it a look, so thanks 🙂

  3. It is so helpful to hear another writer talk about the difficulties of blogging on top of the “real” writing and the responsibilities — and pleasures — of real life. Even though blogging is my only social media outlet, it is time-consuming to write posts, reply to comments, and be a good blog buddy by visiting and commenting on other blogs. Most experts tell us to suck it up and do it since social media is now “required” before being published. But those of us who aren’t Type A personalities struggle.

    It helped when I cut back to blogging twice a week, and I’m seriously considering dropping to once a week, especially when summer rolls around. Despite what the “experts” say, what good is blogging or other social media if it keeps us from writing the real stories we want to share or strains the important relationships in our lives?

    • Very well said jmm, I agree! The social media coverage is exactly why I started my blog, and why I kept it about the short stories and didn’t mention myself or have the usual blog posts about what’s going on in my life as many people do.
      The problem is that if you ever want a publisher or editor to see it, you have to spend tons of time online, visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs in order to attract them to yours. It’s a vicious cycle.

  4. Breaks are necessary for every job. For some inexplicable reason, most writers fail to notice this. They think, “I must not miss a single day! I must write every single day!” I don’t agree with these people.

    I write for my livelihood. It’s my “day job.” I write to feed my family and pay my mortgage.

    I take breaks all the time. I need them. Writing can be emotionally exhausting.

    Listen to your brain when it says “Enough. I need to stop right now.” Believe yourself when you say “I’ll be back.”

  5. Don’t feel guilty – blogging is a huge pressure on top of all the other things we have to do. Just see what you’re doing as getting off the train and sitting in the station for a bit. I’m doing it too. Great post.

  6. You have so much on your plate. After doing your “paid work” that keeps a roof over your head and food on the table, you should just be writing for yourself. Wait for the inspiration. And don’t “worry” about anyone else. Feed yourself in other ways and maybe someday, you’ll want to share your work with the world again. Until then, enjoy “sitting in the station” as loonylit says.

    • I am going to do just that Jilanne (LOVE your name!). I’m trying to get outdoors as much as I can right now, before the awful heat and humidity of summer in the deep south hits. My eyes are sensitive to the sunlight and this is our rainy season – it makes for some enjoyable walks. I feel like I’m squinting the rest of the summer. Walking outside in the woods is a great way for me to recharge. 🙂

  7. *hugs* Be true to you and where your inner voice takes you, not with shoulds and coulds, but by what is in your heart. If writing feels like a chore, then there’s a message inside of you somewhere. Something wishes to pull your attention elsewhere. No harm and following the trail. If you force yourself to write in a time when there is resistance inside… not good.

    I backed away from regular blogging for this reason, and only post when the mood strikes. My effort goes elsewhere.

  8. Hey there! Your post really got to me because although I’m not going through burnout I’m experiencing something a little different. I simply find it difficult to get myself to write at the moment. What you got me thinking about though is the ridiculous standards that the writing industry expects for writers when it comes to social media.

    Social media can be a HUGE distraction for us, which means that the more of it we do the less time we spend writing the things we want to write and are meant to write. On top of that, there is so much content out there (and part of social media is the networking) that not only must we worry about creating social media, but partaking in it constantly as well in order to expect any success in the future with our writing careers.

    I love to connect with other people, but I think that the writing industry is wrong. Yes, we want to connect, but we also want time for our writing. Because we understand this, I think we often don’t expect such rigid standards of our fellow writers; instead we can enjoy connecting with them here and there, but also respect that they need time to write and look forward to the fruit of their labor: a true quality piece of work (or pieces of work over time) rather than constantly putting out something average for the sake of “keeping up”.

    I hope this all makes sense and am not alone in my feeling this. Sorry for the rant, but it is often something that has bothered me. Again thank you for writing this!

    • Thank you J, and you are right. It’s hard to blog and write creatively. You have to blog more and more to stay relevant, yet the more you blog the less you write on other projects – and the less of your real life you live!
      I think the people who expect us to have a poker in every single fire must think we’re all hot novelists who don’t work regular jobs and have nothing to do all day but point and click on our computers in between drinks.

  9. I have had periods where the words would just not come. I gave up writing for a while…

    However, now I just go with the flow. I write odd sentences or paragraphs in a file on my phone when they come to me (hopefully to be expanded upon or incorporated into something at a later stage) that keeps me doing something when I do not feel the inspiration to keep up with projects.

    On your NaNoWriMo novel, don’t worry, it will happen when the time is right. I finished my first 50,003 words on November 30th 2010. I only finished and published the final novel this month!

    The main thing is to do what you feel comfortable with, rather than beating yourself up about what you should be doing.

  10. I’ll echo other comments first, and say I like the honesty, here. Not only about the hassle of social media/blogging, but also about the crappy “worth” so many people put on it. We can meet some great people through it, and it can be a wonderful source of inspiration and camaraderie, but it’s only one part of a life with many facets.

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to wait for inspiration – I’ll write down any old thing. If a greater story is born from that dribbling sentence or two, wonderful. If not, no big deal. I advocate keeping the tool honed. That can mean just opening your mind, though – going for a stroll outdoors and seeing where your thoughts take you. Letting your imagination run free a bit.

    Breaks are beautiful things. They help us recharge. Or, if we’re not meant to continue on a previous path, a respite can help us find the new one. Life has enough chores, though. Art shouldn’t be one of them.

    Follow your bliss where it leads, Neeks. If it’s back to the page, great. If not, that’s fine, too. I’m sure you’ll find new adventures no matter what form they take. 🙂

  11. It’s a bit of vicious circle when you start feeling like that because the longer you leave it, the harder it seems to just start doing something, you feel like you have to somehow catch up, or make up for what you haven’t done for all this time! I think your blog was a difficult one for you to keep up the pace with though because of what you set yourself to do on it. I deliberately keep my personal one fairly themeless so if I feel like writing something serious I can, if I want to write a funny little piece, I can, I can talk about my kids, or about social media, I can post fiction if I want – some people say you should have a theme to a blog, but for me, keeping it open works well, I have plenty of interaction going on on there, and I feel I’m less likely to burn out from it if I don’t put myself in a corner with it. Hope you get your mojo back Neeks!

    • Thanks Vanessa, I just wanted the blog to be about writing, and not about me. The writing was what was important to me, so I tried pretty hard to keep to that.

      I’ll get back to it, but I’m not sure about the blog. It may be time to retire it. WOW! That’s the first time I’ve said that out loud, first time I’ve thought it.

  12. Breaks are good. I’ve hit the wall a few times over the last 18 months. When I finished Camp NaNo last August (and the finished a draft mid Sept) I didn’t write a thing until January. I needed a complete break. I managed a couple of blog posts a month and that was it. Find the pace that suits and go with that. 🙂

  13. Neeks I can help paddle with you, because I’m in the same boat! I started my blog because I felt burned out on life. Not even like I really expected anyone to read it, I just felt like I could have a place to share what was on my mind, my little corner of the interwebs. But then it felt like I have to keep up with it to keep people coming back and the more I don’t post the more I feel guilty about being slow to post and pointless about having a blog in the first place…..and I didn’t even set out expecting any readers in the first place! Oy!

  14. Definitely know how you feel, I’m finding myself heading down the same path, my posts become more infrequent I know eventually I will stop blogging, full time jobs suck, if only I could become a millionaire through writing then I could blog full time gloating about my success hah! At least we’re safe in the knowledge that the internet will always be here waiting for our return 🙂

  15. I have to say I’ve been in the exact same place, except that I didn’t work on it quite as long before I burned. I was, however, working full time, in school part time and working another job as well right up until about 45 days before I got sick. I averaged 2 2 hour naps per day, just to keep up with everything. Now, trying to get back has been far harder than I thought. I love it still, but a fear and lack of purpose has crept in that I never experienced before. I no longer have the confidence that I can do this. Partly because I see that I need to rewrite most of my novel and I have no clue where to begin, at all. I’m completely lost. I just don’t know where to go from here. Then I started back to school again and all my writing efforts went into papers due every week. Yikes! What a pain! I’m on sabbatical from school, facing burnout yet again. But now I have more time to think…more time to doubt. I think I just need to write for me and me alone for a while, before I start back up on anything that people will see. Good luck, sweet Neeks. I wish you the best.

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