“If writing fiction were easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Fundamentally, I know this to be true, although I’m sure there’s some faction of the world who has no interest in writing.
But in the widely-acknowledged stages of the creative process (see right), I have officially reached the border of This is shit and I am shit. Not only has writing fiction ceased to be fun in and of itself, but it has introduced a whole spectrum of other issues into my life.
In no particular order, below are the list of things that writing fiction is currently ruining for me:
- Writing fiction. Seriously. It’s no fun right now. My characters feel emotionally dead and my plot feels contrived. Whyyyyy…
- Talking about writing fiction. When people ask how my writing is going, I have to fake-gush about upcoming contests I want to enter, deliberately not mentioning I’m pretty sure I have a 0% chance of winning any of them. No one likes a Debbie Downer.
- Reading fiction. I now get two pages into any fiction book–even books I’ve read and loved numerous times–and I want to simultaneously throw the book against the wall and study it in depth to learn how to do that in my own book.
- Trying to relax in any way that doesn’t directly benefit me in some way. Exercising or yoga is fine, because it’s doctor’s orders, man. But watching too much Netflix wracks me with guilt… because it’s a waste of time that I could be spending writing (probably terrible) fiction.
Help me, Elizabeth Gilbert. Big Magic is my only hope.
To be fair to this terrible stage of writing fiction, it has helped me:
- Rediscover my love for nonfiction. In the last six months, I’ve read a ton of great memoirs, self-help books, and essays on happiness and philosophy that I probably wouldn’t have read if sinking into a Julie James novel had been an alternative option.
- Make strategic and conscious decisions about how I spend my time. Do I need to binge-watch four episodes of Castle after work while cruising the internet for writing resources? No, I don’t. But am I going to? Yes, I am… but it’s ok because I know I don’t do it every night and because I decided to do it.
- Enjoy the time I’m not writing more. Because even if I’m at work or in traffic, at least I’m not struggling with writing fiction.
So there’s that.