One thing I hear over and over again is that writers should keep writing, no matter what.
That you need to do it every day to keep the momentum, even if it’s a small number of words. That you have to keep going even if you don’t feel like it. That the only way to get better at the craft is to sit down in front of the computer and crank and churn and sweat and bleed (and sometimes scream or cry or both). That in order to get any presence, you have to release 2-3, sometimes 4 or more, books a year.
But you know what? I disagree. At some point, you burn out.
I’m not one of those writers who can sit down and slap out thousands of words to make a daily, weekly or monthly deadline. I’m also not one of those writers who can write just for the sake of writing. For me, the minute I start focusing on quantity above all else, the quality suffers. And then I’m no longer storytelling. It’s just writing. In my mind, there’s a tremendous difference between the two.
Sure, we could argue that you should just let the creative side of you take over and bang out words because you can always edit later. The problem for me is that if I worked it that way, the editing would take longer than had I taken the time to write the way I wanted to from the start. (And let’s not forget about the day job that also has to be juggled!)
It’s for this reason I’ve decided to extend my writing break a little bit more. I recently realized I’ve stopped storytelling and was only putting words on a page. Okay, more like slobbering them on a page. And yes, I treat my writing like a business and I take it seriously. I know in my heart the difference between when a scene hums and when my heart is no longer in it.
I also know when it’s become too much.
As of right now, it’s too much.
That’s why I’m going to ignore all those people who say you have to write every day and that a writer’s life is 24/7. That you can’t make a business out of your storytelling unless you pump out story after story after story. But you know what? I’d rather release one story that I know is my best in nine months’ time than two or more in fifteen or eighteen months. I’m a writer but I’m also a reader, and I know when a story grabs. And when I started this writing business years and years ago, I made a promise to not only become a better writer with each book, but to make each book the very best it could be — and grab. And forcing myself to write, or just throwing words on a page, isn’t going to make that happen.
Maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but hell. I’m going to come out of the closet and say it anyway.
So yeah, until Labor Day, I’m on an extended writing holiday to find peace of mind, to find some writing sanity, and to enjoy life without feeling chained to words that just won’t come.
And I’m not going to feel guilty while I find my balance.
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