I keep staring at the cursor like it’s doing a dance. I’m hypnotized. Blink.
I’m in a funk, sports fans might call it the yips.
Years ago, I used to struggle for ideas. Once I had one, it gripped me: I couldn’t stop writing until the piece was finished. Then I’d wait around for the next idea, a couple weeks at the most.
I loved to plot in advance, it gave me a better understanding of the characters’ motivations and the goals of the piece. It helped me build foreshadowing and tension because even though the characters didn’t know what was coming, I did.
I’m not like that anymore. I don’t know what changed or when; I don’t know why I’m a different writer now but I don’t think I want to go back. Now, the ideas don’t stop. I appreciate how difficult it can be to generate a story idea. I’ve been there and I do not miss that frustration for a second. At the same time, the writer I used to be attacked each idea with ferocity. I was hungry to watch that story unfold. Now, I’m much more reserved. I consider the target market, the retail salability of what the idea could be. I mentally map out what it would take to achieve personal, emotional, and story goals… and then I consider if that’s worth the effort.
It’s dumb, I know. I should write for the sake of writing and sometimes, I do. But even halfway through the “just for fun” pieces, that annoyingly terminal thought creeps in and needles at my brain: how much is this piece worth?
Why? Why can’t I just enjoy the act of creation the way I used to? Lately, I feel like I’m generating ideas so fast that I don’t have time to form an attachment or explore them. Coupled with my list of responsibilities, I don’t have the mental energy to jump at ideas as they come, not the way I used to. I’m worried it takes me so long to start a new idea that by the time I’m ready, it’s not exciting anymore. Even with the beloved editing phase, which yes, I’m behind on that too, I find myself dreading the emotional effort. Now, I seek out distractions. I’m done with that project and I want to move on. I want a new adventure.
A few days ago, I woke with an idea and wrote a bunch of notes before I even left my bed. At least four pieces to edit and I want to write something new instead. I don’t know what’s going to happen yet but I’m excited to find out.
Fiction projects: 5
Fiction words this week: 150 (notes)
About the Author: Theresa Green is the co-founder of The Writer's Workout and a crime fiction writer.