Writing is a many splendored thing… oh wait, that’s love.
Writing is too, isn’t it? It’s multi-faceted and complicated and your attachment to as a writer is different than your relationship with it as a reader; and sometimes, just like love, it can leave you out in the cold. With nothing.
This is kind of how I have been feeling lately. My relationship with my writing has been a bit of a tumultuous one as of late. Having missed a couple of deadlines – due to my own mismanagement of time – really took the wind out of my sails. Though, admittedly, I saw the deadlines coming down the pike for weeks and it was almost as though I was paralyzed by the weight of it. When I first entered the deadlines into my calendar I thought, “No sweat! I got this.” Then my life took a bit of turn, a dizzying spin actually, one that I suppose I didn’t really acknowledge until recently – perhaps I still haven’t fully realized it.
That said, while I was consciously unaware of the beginnings of some major blocks settling into place in my mind I hurtled along toward the deadlines that loomed in the not so distant future. Inspiration would strike and I would get excited and talk to dear Random and some friends about the ideas that were floating around in my mind, convinced they would be perfect for the competitions I intended to enter. The one thing I was not doing was writing. I was doing a lot of talking, but I had taken my laptop out of my backpack and put it in the den – my writing room. And then I would avoid the den.
This went on for weeks. I justified it as needing a break. My brain was tired. I wanted to trade in my heavy laptop (it weighs 3 pounds) for a paperback. I wanted to immerse myself in a world not of my own making. Like how it used to be.
That distraction worked for a little while, but the guilt that needled my brain was becoming more intense as the days turned to weeks and I had yet to put fingers to keyboard and deadlines drew closer.
I stopped writing. I stopped writing anything. I was MIA from this blog, from my social media, my journal at home. Everywhere. But it didn’t bring me peace. I instead got to fight, daily, with my guilt over not writing. It was exhausting.
Finally, I cracked. I missed two deadlines. Two pieces were due on the same day and I was bewildered as to how they could have snuck up on me like that. They didn’t sneak passed me. I saw them coming and I ducked.
I was really upset with myself. More so than I had been in a while. I had a conversation with a dear friend and I questioned how I was going to keep up the pace. Then I looked at my “portfolio” as it were, and I was not impressed. So much for the “write a short story every week” idea. For those who are able to maintain that level of production, I commend you. I fell short of the goal.
I had to remind myself that it was a goal. And a goal is something that one works towards. Not something automatically achieved just because one sets it for ones self. I have to learn not to be so hard on myself.
That is a huge part of the lesson here. You have to give yourself a break. There’s time. Work toward the goals you have set for yourself and don’t expect that just because this is what you want that a) you should get it, b) that when you do it will be exactly what you thought it would be, and c) you have to roll with it. Perhaps it’s not exactly what you thought it would be, but you can make it yours and by doing that it is much more enriching.
Part of that lesson for me is learning how to integrate my writing career into my life as it stands now. I have to learn how to manage my time so that I don’t burn out and can write when inspiration strikes. It’s about balance. I know that, I’m just not that great at putting it into practice. But I’m working on it.
The Delta Force in my mind is kickin’ ass and takin’ names and the flow is coming back. Managing my time, re-assessing my goals and learning to give myself a break are my little Chuck Norrises.
I think it’ll work itself out.