Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Spark Is...Gone?



It's finally time to admit it.

I'm burned out.

I sit down in front of the computer and open up my novel, then I slave over each and every word. It's not fun.

I'm not excited to write right now. When I'm at the day job or in the midst of a particularly bad day, I don't stop and think of my novel and feel a rush of relief because I always have my writing (I used to feel this way all the time, especially when life was tough). Lately, it's more of a yoke around my neck than anything. I've started second-guessing everything that I write. Everything. A little gremlin has popped into my head and said, "You can't write anymore. You lost your talent. It's gone. And it's not coming back. So there!"

I know I shouldn't believe him. But right now, that psychological block is there.

Barbara Bretton wrote a great article on writer burn out. After I read it, I felt better. Yes, it does happen, even to multi-published authors. The creative well runs dry.

I've suspected something was off-kilter for awhile now. My entire mood has been up and down. There are times of the day when I feel really good - and then an hour later, I'll be depressed again.

Maybe it's all just the residual effects of the summer medical disaster with my husband. Maybe I'm still adjusting to the new job. Maybe I am just going through a particularly down period.

Whatever the reason is, it's scaring the crap out of me. I don't like feeling this way. I don't like thinking about my writing and not feeling that burst of happiness. I don't like going through life feeling, well, rather numb.

I don't know what's going on, but I'm trying to take some action. I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday because I felt the need to be creative in something other than writing. I wanted to paint, to draw, do something different. But by the time I got there, that same lackluster feeling overcame me and nothing caught my eye. I decided to make my own charm bracelet, which consisted of picking out charms that represented who I am and then attaching them to the already-made bracelet. That took all of ten minutes to make. I love how it turned out, but it didn't ease the ache in my soul.

I haven't been exercising as much, although I do take a break every afternoon and go and walk. My eating habits are getting better. And this is my favorite time of year! I love fall. I love the leaves changing color. I love the cool breezes. I love preparing for the holidays.

I've also been reading a lot, watching movies, hanging out with my daughter (we colored pictures last night and watched a movie), and spending quality time with my husband.

In a way, I'm grieving for my writing. I want it back. I want to feel that spark again. But it's been doused.

Will it come back? I'm sure of it. But at this point, I'm not going to rush things.

10 comments:

  1. Michelle5:51 PM

    Hugs, Melissa. Everyone goes through phases like that. Take some time off, recharge the creative batteries, and spend time with your family. Hang in there!

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  2. Melissa - you're being too hard on yourself! You just need a little break. Enjoy it - don't beat yourself up - and you'll want to write again soon. :)

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  3. Jeez, Melissa! I couldn't believe it--your description fit me exactly! I've felt exactly like that for a long time. That's why I haven't published for many years. I think it's a combination of burn-out, depression, fatigue, and cynicism. I still do continue to write occasionally, but not with the joy I had in the beginning. I think we have to keep on, but try to forego that relentless pressure we put on ourselves. You are not alone!

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  4. (((Melissa))). I empathise with you BIG time. I've lost count of how many times I've 'lost' my creativity. It's the worst feeling ever, but trust me, it won't be permanent.

    In my experience, the sooner you can accept that you need to take a break, the quicker your creativity will return. The important thing is to not give yourself a deadline on the resting.

    A recent example for me is the fall I took two weeks ago on top of the stress of my DD's medical emergency. For the first time ever I willingly accepted that my writing/study would have to be put on hold until I'd recovered. I even began looking forward to the respite. Guess what happened - my writing began calling to me again within 5 days!

    You've had a very stressful summer and now you need to be kind to yourself. You deserve to enjoy some time with your family - your writing will return, but not until you're ready.

    Thinking of you,
    Hugs,
    Sue
    xx

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  5. Oh, Melissa, I'm sorry you're feeling so fried. No wonder after the rollercoaster ride you've had lately. I know that pros might say you should keep writing, no matter what. But I kind of think that when you're truly burnt you should just take a break--otherwise something you love turns into something you just plain hate. It sounds like you're doing exactly what you need to: Read. Rest. Recoup. Regroup. Color outside of the lines. And your muse will come out to play again once she's feeling it. Hugs!

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  6. You know what I find helpful?

    Dedicated time away from writing.

    Give yourself a mini-sabbatical. At minimum, two weeks. During that time, you're NOT ALLOWED to write, except on the blog or in your journal. You read, paint, go to museums, hang out --anything EXCEPT write. No matter how strongly it starts to pull at you again, you let it build and build and build.

    However, on the day your sabbatical ends, you start writing again, whether you feel like it or not, because if you don't, it's too easy just to not get around to it.

    Make it mindful time away, not just letting it go.

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  7. Hugs, Melissa. That's a horrible feeling and we all go through it from time to time.

    Devon's advice is pretty much what I was going to offer (until I read the comments!). Two weeks out to refill the well will do you a power of good.

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  8. Hey Melissa, don't worry, it'll come back. Don't you have a trip coming up? It might be the best thing for you, revitalize all your writing creative juices again. Take a breather, it's good for you, and then you'll feel it come back.

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  9. Take a break. I did.

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  10. Hugs, Melissa, that's an awful feeling. I think Devon's advice is spot on though. That spark will return, but you clearly need a good break from it.

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