I have recently had to back away from several side projects I’ve been heavily involved in. I learned a lot from them, but there comes a point in life when you just don’t have time to dedicate to everything. As writers we so often have our head in the clouds that looking at what’s in front of us is no easy task. So I’ve had to work on getting my act together and focusing. Lately that has meant narrowing down and slimming off the top.
With the launch of Insomnia Publishing my priorities had to shift away from what they were before. I’ve had to remind myself that I need to dedicate everything I have to that project and to the books being produced through the company. It’s been hard because I’ve had so many things I wanted to spend time doing. I have hobbies, my marriage, my pets, and life to fit around my writing time. And since picking up Insomnia my personal time for writing had vanished because I was so busy running around writing for everyone else that I forgot where it started to begin with.
Being a writer starts and ends with you. If you aren’t writing, you’re not a writer. And for the last few months I haven’t been a writer. I’ve been an editor, a farmer, a church deacon, a reenactor, a violin teacher, and many other things… but I haven’t been a writer. That realization slapped me in the face with NaNoWriMo coming up. Last year, for the first time, I “won” NaNoWriMo. I was extremely proud of that accomplishment, and I started planning things for my book as soon as I hit that 50k mark. It wasn’t finished by any stretch, but I had plans.
Then I became wrapped up in other things. Write this blog, write that article, edit these pieces, accept or reject these submissions, record this podcast, publicize that on Twitter. Bit by bit my writing time evaporated and life took over, reducing my ability to focus on what I wanted to focus on. That novel is still sitting on my hard drive and hasn’t been touched for months because I have been too busy pleasing everyone else and trying to write for other people. Recently I had a few hours to myself, and I brewed myself a mug of tea, booted up my word processor, and sat down to write.
I stared at the screen for about an hour. Nothing came out. I looked over my notes, put on some music, and tried to get myself in the mood. Still nothing happened.
I spent about four hours sitting in front of that word document and managed only to write a handful of words before deleting them, hitting “save” and closing it in frustration. I’d tapped myself out. I’ve neglected this blog which, for awhile, was quite popular, and I have managed to fall out of touch with the muse who has been such inspiration to my writing for so many years.
It was time for change.
After a long process of consideration I realized that I needed to cut things out. I needed to step back, and I needed to evaluate what needed to be done for me to be able to get to that place again. I have, over the last few days, come to understand the problem: I wasn’t a writer. I was all of those things I listed – many of which are important – but I wasn’t a writer. I’d lost whatever spark made me into a writer, and now I have to go about finding it again.
I know it’s like a bicycle. Once I begin to start doing it again, it will work, and I won’t have forgotten it. But sitting on that seat and strapping on the helmet to take your wobbly first few pedals down the driveway is intimidating to say the least.
I guess the moral of the story, for those of you whom have stuck with this long enough to finish reading it, is that you shouldn’t let this happen to you. While life may pull you in a hundred different directions you need to make sure you carve out time to write or you will lose it. Then, when you finally sit down to put work into your own projects… nothing comes. It’s a tragic feeling, and it feels very much like failure. That isn’t to say it is failure, but it’s an awful sensation that I’d just as soon spare you from feeling.