So here we are, almost a week into December. Throughout these past few days, as I continue working on my novel–which I still love writing by the way–I have nevertheless begun to feel a malaise settle over me. I get into these slumps sometimes with regards to my writing “career”, if you will. Sometimes I’m super excited about all the possibilities and I can’t work on enough things to satisfy that excitement, and other times…well, other times I’m like this. It only took me five days, a post on Writer Unboxed about getting lost in all the things that could be wrong with your WIP, and an email from a writerly penpal ‘just checking in’–you know who you are, and thank you–to realize I’m, like, totally depressed or something. I don’t mean to sound whiny, but I need to address this unexpected after-effect of NaNoWriMo. Sure, I wrote 50,917 words in one month, more than I’ve ever generated in that time frame, AND, get this, it’s not all complete tripe (would you look at that).
But now that I’ve attained this goal, there’s still more to be done. There’s always so much more to be done. Stories and poems to submit, novel drafts waiting for revisions, or hell, even entire rewrites, and not to mention the completion of this first draft. As award-winning poet, short story author, and soon-to-be-on-the-shelves-of-your-local-bookstore novelist, Annie Neugebauer points out, it will never feel like enough. That’s what I’m going through right now, and I don’t even have a whole lot under my belt in the first place.
Perhaps it’s just a seasonal thing, I thought. I was ecstatic at the commencement of fall (see here), but now, the pure, leaf-laden air of fall has been replaced with a heavy, contemplative chill. No, this malaise is likely a symptom of something more insidious. And I realized that my problem might be, as I stated on twitter, here,
I don’t have a set goal that I’m driving toward anymore. Not to mention all that self-doubt, repressed compulsive procrastination (however unsuccessfully), and fear catches up and hits you like a freight train as soon as you stop to take this well-deserved breath. But as my best friend/writing partner extraordinaire told me in condolence, “try not to focus on the difficult aspects of being a writer for now. We do this because we love it.“ So that’s what I’ve decided to focus on. Yeah, NaNoWriMo, I kicked your ass, but what’s next for me? I’ll tell you what’s next.
Making goals: This Writer Unboxed post, Becoming a Better Writer in 2015 by Barbara O’Neal, made me start thinking about setting solid goals, not only for submission and revisions, but also, reflecting on the things I’ve gained this year, and what I could do next year to make small but meaningful progress like that. I love O’Neal’s idea of investing in another creative endeavor outside of writing to “fill the well” and rereading old favorites to see what you can take from them as the writer you are now.
Reaching out to my community of writing buddies: Virtual and face-to-face writing sessions, reading other’s blogs for advice and inspiration, and just a good ole chat every so often to check in with someone who understands what I’m going through.
Positive affirmation: I’ve always been a bit of a pessimist–okay, more than a bit of one. So in an effort to turn that around, this is my new mantra: You love doing this. That’s why you’re doing it. Think of a favorite scene you wrote recently, an angelically wrought sentence, or super steamy love scene (or high-speed chase scene, or epic fantasy scene, or creepy, stalking killer scene, or literary character achieving self-actualization scene). Now hold it in your mind. Tap into the feeling you had when you created that. And just revel in the fact that you created that.
We do this because we love it. And this is me recovering after NaNoWriMo.
What about you? Any creeping negativity or distant doubt come into play when you finished? Do you share in my malaise? What do you plan to do about it?