I know what you’re thinking. This is November. The infamous month where all writers disappear from the face of the web except for brief stints to post word count updates on their NaNoWriMo projects. So it’s only natural that you haven’t heard from me in a while, right?
Well, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m not racking up the word count for National Novel Writing Month. Didn’t even sign on – though I’d still like to someday.
While I had dreams of making great headway in writing this month, it seems my brain had different plans.
November is kind of a crazy month anyway. I mean, the holiday season is ramping up. So there’s that. Plus as a homeschooling family, there’s always the pressure to perform this time of year. We’re pushing to get certain assignments done before Thanksgiving break and the onslaught of December.
But in years past I’ve always managed to make the quota. Since 2011 I started keeping track of hours put into writing per month. A professional writer needs to put nose to the proverbial grindstone if he or she wants to make a descent name in the writing world. One reputable writer I’ve come to admire said that if you aspire to make writing your profession, then you ought to be getting in a bare minimum of 20 hours a month.
Well, to someone who’s new to the game, that seems like a lot – especially for the bare minimum. If you sit back and look at it logically, that’s not too huge though. I mean there’s 24 hours in a day. Even if you only managed an hour of writing a day, you could achieve 30 hours in a month (except on February).
So I resolved to keep a record of my writing time to see how well I stuck to my guns in a given year. In 2011 I made 30 hours that November. In 2012 it was 25 hours. 2013 was 26 hours.
Care to guess how many hours I’ve put into writing this November?
Yep, that’s twelve. Pretty sad considering there’s only four days left in the month. I’m hoping this post will jack me up two more hours. But it probably won’t.
So what happened?
Well, I’ll tell ya. My brain went on hiatus. One might call it writer’s block. That sounds too docile to me. More like writer’s strike.
This month I resolved to get that book proposal done. The task has sat unfinished far too long. This lazy lady needed someone to whip her into shape and I knew nobody was going to do that but me. But as soon as I sat down in front of that computer to make the magic happen, my brain went blank.
I got as far as the market analysis and no further. All the joy of writing instantly sapped from my mind. Frustration took it’s place. Pretty soon I found that I didn’t want to do any of it.
Oh, I tried all the usual tricks to thwart the writer’s strike.
Jotting thoughts in a notebook…couldn’t get past a few sentences.
Blogging …started several posts and couldn’t finish them.
Research…found some interesting threads. All they did was depress me because they reminded me of the creative writing process I had to forgo in order to finish edits and start the submission process.
I even tried giving in to the creative writing. I reasoned that everyone needs a creative outlet or they burn out. So succumbing to a little creative writing would serve as a good release. And it was, for a few hours.
Then conviction set in.
The creative writing was just another project to pick up and distract me from my unfinished responsibilities. When that realization hit, frustration took over. I threw up my hands and gave up.
And that’s where I am today. Sitting here wishing that I could finish my responsibilities…wishing I could write what I need to write, yet accomplishing nothing.
That picture of our geranium is very appropriate right now. It sat there, stretching out toward the light of the window longingly – striving to bloom. It needed to soak up all that good sunlight so that the rest of those pods could burst forth and fuel the plant with the sustenance necessary to thrive. But the outside world is cold and distant. The window is small, offering it little light to work with. So the pods remained closed or only partially opened. Ideas sitting, unused, while the single bloom stretched and strained to make things go. The process went nowhere fast.
That’s how I feel right now – as though I’m going nowhere fast. Time slips away more and more yet nothing is accomplished. I’m so discouraged right now. So burned out.
It’s tempting to say, “What’s the use? I can’t do this. Why not quit?”
Quitting would be easier.
Then there’s that geranium.
Every one of those blooms sprung forth. It didn’t take long after that for other blooms to come out. Even though that one has long since died back and wilted, it’s work was sufficient to keep the plant thriving – to let other blossoms take their turn in sustaining the plant. That little plant isn’t so little anymore. In fact, it’ll probably need a bigger pot next year.
So I suppose the take-away is this…
Life has it’s dry spells – it’s writing blocks. They eventually pass. Life is hard during those times. On the outside, things seem worn, or barely thriving. But on the inside there’s still work going on. Things are churning and eventually they’ll come out. Eventually they’ll produce results.