I hope you’re doing well. After a fortnight of letting myself be lazy, I’m ready to get stuck back into writing, reading, and being more active online. I’ve set up a schedule, both with reading and word count goals, and whilst I will keep an eye open for any submission openings that catch my interest, I want to just work at my own steady speed for a while, with what I’m enjoying, and pray I find homes for them later on.
As a head’s up, my posts won’t be as lengthy and preachy as this one today, but as I like to do with these updates – I wanted to mull over why I’ve been so wildly inactive lately.
I briefly mentioned on Twitter I hit a bout of burnout, but I admit I brought it on myself, more than anything. I kept lamenting over not sending out enough submissions, grasping the tail end of open calls only to miss them, and let other people’s success make me feel as though I wasn’t working hard enough, quick enough, or smart enough – rather than simply being happy at other’s progress.
I stopped writing what I wanted to, and only wrote what I thought would have a better chance of finding a suitable submission opening as soon as possible – which was miserable. And the thing is, I’m sure so many people relate. I see countless people discussing feeling burnt out, like an imposter, or feeling as though they can’t possibly take a break in the fear everything will crumble.
On social media, it seems no one ever stops, everyone’s successful, everyone’s making the perfect move at the perfect time – and it’s garbage. I’m sure if we were to be a fly on the wall in another writer’s life we’d see the same struggles reflected as what we’re grappling with.
With that, I took some time away and properly focused on what I wanted to do. I made a list of long-term and short-term goals. I realised quickly that I need to enjoy the process as much as the ‘rewards’ for my writing to feel like me. I don’t want to lose the joy I have for writing, even if it means I’ll remain but a tiny little smudge in the writing sphere. Both my brain and my work will be better for it.
If you’re like me and keep having these struggles, please just take a breather, as often and for as long as you need. Make lists. Make routines. Figure out your priorities. Get a journal to vent, resolve, and put aside your anxieties. And realise no one out there is as successful, efficient, and seemingly unstoppable as their social media feed might seem. None of us are falling behind – because there is no race or rush. We can only do so much with our own personal circumstance.
So, with that, what am I doing?
I’ve got a good few books lined up to read, with plans to make some bookmarks to make to suit them – a little hobby I’ve picked up recently. Makes for good pictures, too. Also have some books on preorder and in the post right now, since I’m trying to move back to paperback copies after flooding my kindle.
And I’ve currently got two projects ongoing!
First, a short story tentatively titled Gentle, Subtle Things, which I’m hoping will become a sort of… murder mystery / haunted house hybrid, which I’m really fiddling around with the chronology of. I’m trying to branch out with my style a little more, rather than be afraid of straying too far from my usual structure. My last piece, which I’m currently querying, consisted of journal formatting, with a somewhat unique ‘voice’ – I’m really proud of that unnamed piece, even if it does feel a bit like marmite. You’d love it, or loathe it.
Then, my long-term project – When They Call. A novel I drafted for NaNoWriMo, that seriously needs some love and thought. I spent hours with my dad making notes about the mining industry for it but, as with all NaNo projects, it was terribly messy. I’m hoping now I’m chilling out a bit more with my deadlines, it’ll come together a bit more cohesively now, if not slowly. You’ll hear more about that project as I go, though.
That’s my big lecture for the day done! Below you’ll find a quick breakdown of my current reads and projects, and I’ll update next Monday.
– Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
– An Invitation to Darkness by Hailey Piper
– The Elementals by Michael McDowell [Awaiting Copy]
– Immortelle by Catherine McCarthy [Awaiting Copy]
– Gentle, Subtle Things – moving backwards, unravelling the death of a mother, a house steeped in the scent of coal, lilies, and rot.
– When They Call – coming of age, bad luck breeding in the belly of a coal mine, swallow your grief or die choking on it.