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Friday, January 23, 2015

Falling in love again

After I finished writing the final Dylan Scott mystery, Dead Simple, I ground to a creative halt. Really. I'd vowed to get on with another book, the one I wanted to write but was too busy with Dead Simple, and meh. I slogged my way through 20,000 words, but found there were too many other things I'd rather be doing - walking the dogs, sorting through thousands of old photos, washing dishes or cleaning windows (I kid you not).

A friend told me she thought I was suffering from burn-out. I dismissed this as utter nonsense. But, as the days/weeks/months passed, I began to think she might have a point. Somehow, after decades of spending every spare moment thinking up stories, I'd fallen out of love with words.

So what did I do? I carried on walking the dogs and cleaning the windows. Result? My house sparkled and the dogs had never been fitter. But it worked because, at long last, I've fallen in love all over again.

I've remembered how much I love creating my own perfect world (perfect with the odd murder thrown in of course), how much I love hearing from readers who've enjoyed one of my books, and how great it is to find the perfect word and feel like a genius. There's no commute and I can work all night with a glass of wine to hand if I choose. Oh, and I get paid for it. It has to be the best life ever, right?

So this is one for you writers out there. Have you ever fallen out of love with your craft?


Anne Marie Becker said...

I just went through the same thing, Shirley! Thanks for sharing. I'm glad I'm not alone. I just finished a 5-year, 6-book adventure and intentionally released the last one just before the holidays so I could take a 2-week break without feeling guilty. But then I came back physically refreshed but mentally...not so much. ;) Have spent the last couple weeks trying to get a spark of inspiration and think I've found a few embers to work on. Trying not to be too hard on myself and understand it's probably part of the process. Thanks for this!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Wow, Shirley. I know *exactly* what you and Anne Marie are saying. After finishing The Untethered Woman, I wrote a couple of short stories (you know, to rinse the palate) before moving on to the next novel project, but... I couldn't get enthusiastic about any of the projects I've had simmering on the back burner. I'm still on hold...

Rita said...

I adore writing. I do NOT like in any way shape or form the pressure I feel to do this and do that in order to be successful. The last year I neglected parts of my life and finding them again has given me better view.

Toni Anderson said...

Giving your brain time off is huge. But if you still need some down time I have chunky dog and dirty windows you can come and make sparkly :)

I worked hard last year and so far this latest book is a struggle. I don't think struggling with a book is the same thing as you describe, Shirley, but it does make you wonder what the heck you were thinking believing you could do this thing called writing. But I've decided to reduce to pressure on myself, not put the book up for pre-order until I have a rough first draft. Not promise readers even the name of the hero in case I change my mind about whose story it is I'm writing. My only goal for the next couple of months is to write a really good serial killer Romantic Suspense. There's so much pressure on the creative brain to be creative sometimes--it seems inherently wrong :)

jean harrington said...

Hi All, Interesting comments from Anne Marie, Marcelle, Rita and Toni. What I'm getting is that writing is hard, very hard and we, indeed, are not robots. No need to prove it, either. But since we've chosen this identity of author, we all intend to carry on, no matter what the difficulties. That's what I love about writers; we don't give up, we write on. Cheers, and have a great weekend, everyone.

Shirley Wells said...

Glad I'm not alone, Anne Marie. Yes, I felt physically refreshed and mentally - meh. I think it's definitely part of the process, but it's not pleasant. Good luck!

Marcelle, it's a horrid situation, isn't it? Maybe you feel you can't match The Untethered Woman. (Really loved that book!) I'm sure you'll be back stronger. Sending good wishes.

Rita, it's so easy to neglect important parts of your life. I'm trying not to do that.

Toni, I have to agree about reducing the pressure. We put ourselves under so much pressure that it's a wonder we manage to write anything. Can't wait to read the serial killer RS. No pressure though. ;)

Jean, yes. We do indeed write on. And yes, it is very, very hard. :)

Elise Warner said...

Haven't fallen out of love yet but I have--on occasion discarded a non-fiction piece I found boring and thought the powers that be would too. Can't seem to throw anything out though.

Mike Keyton said...

I'm struggling at the moment, but not burnt out (I hope ;) Its a case of a struggling plot being teased out. Me the constipated spider. Big contrast to when you're on a roll.

Shirley Wells said...

Elise, I've discarded many a piece of work. And I mean really discarded - never to be seen again. :)

Mike, I love the idea of a constipated spider. I think. :) The teasing out of a plot is often slow and laborious, isn't it, but once it all comes together, *then* we go on a roll. Hopefully.

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