I began focusing on my wordcount in 2014, aiming for at least 100,000 new words of fiction written across the year. The aim of this was to keep my creative brain moving: to keep progress moving steadily forward.
I found NaNoWriMo helpful to keep track of my progress and motivate me to keep going, and that was the year I began to pay attention to fiction submissions and agents. Since 2014, I’ve watched my writing process shift and meld, as life intervenes and various goals changed or were achieved.
Four Years On
In December 2017, I hit my year’s goal before the year ended, and breathed out a sigh of relief.
I needed a break.
Writing is a wonderful space, a hobby and interest. I still have ideas for stories, but I was burnt out. I spent 3-4 years pushing myself to reach arbitrary number targets: to tick off the boxes and feel achieved. But it lost it’s enjoyment. I had a couple of short stories published, and switched between editing previous manuscripts and writing fresh stories from scratch. But by December, I didn’t WANT to write anymore. So I focused on my very-close-now target, and then let myself stop.
I still loved NaNoWriMo – the month comes with its own unique energy – but the slog of months and months on end had stopped working for me. So I let myself take a break.
That doesn’t mean I’m no longer a writer. I still love books. In fact I began reading once I stopped focusing on writing so much. Like everything in lie, there is an ebb and a flow. I needed to pause.
The Felled Gods
I’ve written 200 words across 2 months, and I was feeling good about that; no longer feeling that writing was another “to-do” on my list. I trusted myself, didn’t let myself fall back into that frenzy and now, nearing the end of February, I actually found my excitement for a story I’ve been thinking of returning to.
I skim-read the first chapter, and it actually wasn’t as bad as I feared. The final novel was longer than I remember it being, and when I shared it with a beta reader: knowing I’ve been stuck for a while and need a new perspective, they said the magic words: “I’m interested.”
For a beta read, that’s a 10/10; and all I ever aim for 😀 If I can hold someone’s attention enough to keep reading, even in an early draft, I’ve succeeded.
And although part of me is relieved and excited to have this anticipation back, to feel the drive and motivation to explore this fictional world again, there’s something key to waiting: not rushing back into that daily pace that burnt me out in the first place.
So I’m enjoying reading the prose through, telling myself to wait until I get feedback before I change anything. And it’s nice to feel enjoyment of the desire to write again. That wanderlust others have for travel and culture, I have for my dream-worlds again. Although I’m not actively writing, I feel that spark of a writer once more.