I have this circle when it comes to writing. It kind of goes like this:
Everyone writes differently, of course, and even when I'm not writing, I'm doing something writerly (shh, it's a word). If I'm not writing, I'm editing and revising, or working with my publisher (or in the case of my last book, self-publishing), or getting feedback from betas and making more revisions. Sometimes I'm editing books for other people, which actually helps my writing immensely.
But over the past ten years of writing, I've noticed something about how I write. When I get through a novel, my mental energy for coming up with plots and pounding them out on the keyboard seems to have reached its limit. I struggle to type even a hundred words.
Know what else I've learned? I can't force it. I've had to learn there's a difference between "persevering even when I don't feel like it" and "my brain really just needs a refresher." There's a definite difference there--it's something you learn to distinguish.
After I finish writing a novel, my muse goes on vacation so I can recharge. Even though I'm still working on edits and everything, it can be frustrating not to be writing. I miss writing. I want something to come out when I put my hands on the keyboard and open a document file. I'm supposed to be a writer, right? But it's been three weeks, and no new story. Three months, and no new story. Oh, look, now it's five months and that second book I was supposed to have already written? Yeah, it's not written yet.
Inevitably, though, if I keep working on cleaning up other projects, let my brain rest on the writing front, watch some movies, read some books...a new story comes in and clobbers me over the head, and then I'm back to pounding away on the keyboard. I know I can type a huge amount at once if I need to. I also know that some days, getting out just a little bit can be like pulling teeth.
On my best day, when I was on a deadline, I wrote 10,000 words. Some days, I'm doing good to get out two hundred.
Writing isn't easy--anyone who has written even half a book can tell you this. Sometimes it is frustrating, and annoying, and you just want to throw your book against the wall or shout at your characters for being so uncooperative.
And some days, the writing flows and the thrill of excitement hits you. The characters are doing their thing and you're just going along with it, and everything seems so easy.
No matter whether I'm in a difficult stage or an "everything is working wonderfully" stage, I really do love being a writer. I love it that I can tell a story that was never told before. Sure, there might be things similar to it, but nothing that is exactly like mine. I love the words and the characters and the uniqueness that belongs to each one. I love learning new things--from my writing and from others' writing.
If you're in a writing slump right now, remember that it won't last forever and that sometimes you just need a refresher. If you're on a writing high right now, I hope you are having a blast. Beyond anything else, even when you are tired, and exhausted, and frustrated, I hope that you can look at what you do and remember why you love it.
I also read two encouraging blog posts about writing and stories today, so I'm going to link those here.
Susan Kaye Quinn posted about the lies we tell ourselves as writers: Four Nasty Lies We Tell Ourselves About Writing
Peggy Eddleman wrote about the need for stories: The Need For Stories
Where are you with writing right now?