Updated: Sep 9, 2022
Sometimes I forget how important it is to create distance.
There, I said it. Out loud.
I forget that I need time away, I need to do other things and use my brain in different ways so I can come back to a project fresh. I definitely forgot that again.
I’ve been forcing myself to write. I’m pushing myself to put words on the page but I’m straining so hard to fill a volume that none of the words I write are usable. Because none of these words will work, I’m worse than stalled: I’m causing harm.
I thought I broke through the wall but it turns out I didn’t and that’s okay. I cracked the wall just enough to release most of a story a month ago and then plugged it back up again. I tried too hard and I got careless. I forgot that for me, writing means connecting to each letter individually and listening when it tells me its perfect placement on the page. I’m too focused on the many other things on my plate right now to have room for that connection. I have to accept that until I find a way not to work 90 hours a week, or to be constantly surrounded by work and other stressors, I won’t have room for that connection. Apparently, the story that did break through was stronger and fought harder than my growing To Do list.
Good for that story. I hope I find another.
Some people—some very famous authors—claim that a writer has to write every day, that a writer isn’t a writer unless they write every day, or that writing every day ensures you will produce. I disagree. This method has never ever worked for me. In fact, telling myself that I have to write every day causes such a negative reaction that I block myself and then I lose hours withdrawing into a ball of stress, anxiety, and panic. I can’t live like that.
Everyone’s process is different. Forcing out a string of syllables just so I can say I “wrote” for the day makes me physically nauseous because I know I can’t use any of that material; I know that effort is wasted. Quantity over quality is not who I am. I’d rather write one good novel in my life than churn out 64 mostly mediocre ones. I need to connect to my characters so the reader will too. I don’t have to write every day, or every week, to be a writer and if the daily obligation doesn’t work for you, neither do you.
Don’t let someone else convince you their process has to be yours.
Fiction projects: 1
Research pages this week: 4
About the author: Theresa Green is the co-founder of The Writer's Workout and a crime fiction writer.