Credit: Patrick Tomasso

Writing Used to be Fun

Do you remember those days? The days when you could sit down and write for hours, voluntarily giving up tuning in for the latest Game of Thrones episode, or forgoing your friend’s night out so you could write another couple chapters. It felt urgent–getting your writing out there. Landing that agent, signing new contracts, exhausting media tours, never saying “no.” As though if you didn’t do it as fast as you could, that something horrible would happen, like your time to be It would pass you by if you weren’t out there and ready. But through all that, you still enjoyed writing. Or at the very least told yourself you did in a vain attempt to comfort yourself about everything you were giving up to be so driven.

I’m a workaholic. Have been my entire life. I’ve had a full-time job since I was sixteen and part time jobs since I was ten and could get a paper route and mow lawns. Working my ass into the dirt is just what I do.

For a long time I assumed I was the only one that felt that way. That spent every waking moment not at my day-job writing, editing, or rewriting. That I was the only one haunted by a veritable graveyard of friendships because I chose writing over spending time with them.

But after getting some books published and hanging out drinking with other authors at conventions, I found that many, if not most, had gone through the same thing. At some point it changed. At some unrecognizable blip in time, our writing went from being (it seemed) life or death, to just something we did. That didn’t mean it was any less passionate. On the contrary. It became apparent that my writing didn’t suffer if I took the weekend off to go on a motorcycle trip with my buddies, or took my partner to a B&B for a couple days of beach-side bliss and lazing around. The separation with my writing breathed new life into it.

One of the things that got me to slow down and step back was I finally listened to what long-term writers were saying, that you really have to live life to be able to write about it. It’s too easy to become a recluse and sit at a desk in a dark room and blindly type about something you know nothing about, whether it’s love or loss, human strength or desperation. I needed to get out there and experience it for myself. I needed to meet people who had given up everything for someone they loved, who had fucked up everything in their life and were now living on the streets in a form of self-flagellation.

The issue is that I stepped too far back. I went from writing every day to writing three or four times a week, down until I was writing bi-monthly, if that. I disappointed a lot of my readers. Lost book contracts. Lost most of what I’d worked so hard for. Which rendered it pointless — all those friends I’d put on the back-burner, the relationships I’d neglected with innumerable girlfriends. It was all for naught.

Or was it?

The more I realized I’d messed up, the less motivation I could find for writing again. I couldn’t see the point. I became really depressed whenever I thought about writing. I started a small modern-industrial furniture company. Finally something clicked. Or broke. However you want to look at it.

I’m back in the saddle, regulating my obsession with writing. I’m also trying hard not to forget everything I learned on my break. I’ve got three books to finish drafting this year and I’m looking forward to every second of it.

The moral is, sometimes a big step back isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes you have to find your passion again. I was burned out. Done. Hated putting words on a page. Would come up with any excuse not to do it, even house keeping. Are you finding every excuse not to write? I mean, after all you are reading a blog instead of writing. :) Maybe you should take some time off. Go on a detox. For how long? I don’t know, I can’t say. You just need to watch the road signs. You’ll know when it’s time to get back in the game.

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