Monday Mayhem – If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort

I won’t lie, it’s been a rough year (or two…okay, three) for me. I’ve been struggling with my writing for a while, and this year, I finally hit the wall.

I’ve spent some time sulking and whining, and even more pretending everything is okay, this was just a phase, and I would get through it if I could just focus, manage my time better, buy 3-5 different planners, convert my bulletin board to a kanban, etc.

But mostly, I’ve spent 2019 wondering if I am done.

a woman in bed with her head laying on the computer holding her coffee mug.

I realize now (thanks to this series of videos by Becca Syme), that I’ve been sliding into burnout since about 2016.

Looking back, it’s really no surprise. While 2016 was the annus horribilis personally (and not because of anything political – though that didn’t help), it was an exciting year for me as a writer. I signed contracts, made plans for mass market and audiobook releases, and generally threw myself and my balled up emotion into all the things that go along with writerdom.

I worked steadily through 2017, my eyes on the prize that 2018 was sure to be. 2018 started out fabulous, back to back releases, and a starred review from Publishers Weekly. And then the hits started coming.

Rejection. Disillusionment.

You’d think I’d be used to the subjective nature of the business by now, but you never really get past the gut-punch. Somehow, I muddled through another two lackluster releases, plastered an ‘all is well’ smile on my face and played the conference circuit, then struck back with an ‘I’ll show you’ indie release that netted me more profit in one month than the 4 others have combined since publication.

But it wasn’t about the money.

I was reeling. Am reeling. After 9 years and 39 books, I am out of contract. An orphan. I am a woman with lots of planners, but no plan.

Time to Set Goals Target Aspirations Intention Objective Concept

I’ve spent much of this year dealing with the fallout from what I see now were unrealistic expectations. I’d been listening too much to the noise around me. I’d been immersing myself in the quicksand of social media and other forms of busy work and distraction to self-soothe.

But it isn’t working.

I haven’t been working. I’ve been sulking. And hurting. And wondering if there’s anything left in me.

I’ve had a first draft on my computer that has been thiiiiis close to being complete since November, but I just can’t stir myself to finish it.

But I don’t want to quit. I know that much.

If I did, I would have a while ago, and wouldn’t have spent so much of this year fretting over it. So what to do now? I’ve licked my wounds for long enough. It’s time to figure out how to move on.

My biggest leap will be stepping off the forced productivity treadmill. I will no longer conform to what “everyone says’ is the ‘right’ way to do this author thing.

I will refill my creative well.

I plan to read, listen to music, watch television and movies… In other words, do all the things I eschewed over the last few years in the name of productivity. These are the things that feed me. They spark ideas and give me the impetus to ask, “What if this happened?”

Those who have been around since my Gilmore Girls days know my biggest works of fanfic started with Lorelai asking Luke if he was ‘good at dating’, and I wondered, “What if Luke took that opportunity to tell Lorelai he didn’t want to wait around for her to finally see him and pick him?”

Are you good at dating?

I want to get back to that feeling…the need to explore possibilities within my books. The possibilities inside of me.

So yeah, that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about what goes on inside my brain. But there you have it.

If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort.

Portrait of cute girl sitting under blanket and reading a book

6 Replies to “Monday Mayhem – If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort”

  1. To see you spell out your ” struggles” makes me sad because I know how hard you work but I have confidence in you and know you will figure out how to regain the joy in the writing.

  2. ugh, I know exactly where you’ve been (still are, a little bit?), Maggie…because I’ve been in much the same place. Plastering on that smile, pretending everything was okay-fine-not-glitchy. I’m not sure I’ve found a way out of the much, either, but I know I’m tired of where I am. So, I’m trying a few things to refill that well (repeating Hart of Dixie is helping!) and looking at what I want to do next.

  3. You’ve always been an inspiration to me, not because I think you’re perfect or that you do everything right. Not because everything falls into your lap. It’s because you’re brave. You’re honest. You never give up. I hope you’re able to recharge over the next few months. This post is further evidence of your innate ability to hit your readers with all the feels. You have a gift, such a way with words. I hope you never doubt that.

  4. Hey, it’s OK to feel angry or depressed or sorely used. Go kick something or have your hubby hold up sofa cushions for you to pummel. (What an oddly-specific thing to suggest. Almost as if I’ve made use of that technique myself or something.) The sentence that resonates the most to me is that you don’t want to quit. Of course you don’t, and you won’t. You’re a writer. Those words will continue to percolate through your head and you’ll have to get them out and write them down before you explode. This is just a bad patch. We’ll all still be here, patiently waiting to read whatever is next. Just be kind to yourself along the way.
    Thanks for the Monday morning kickstart of that backwards baseball cap. Since I don’t drink coffee, I was in desperate need of something to wake me up! Mind you, I still have no desire to work, but at least I’m smiling now.

  5. I’m actually glad I’m not a writer. I know I couldn’t handle that whirlwind of a roller coaster. I couldn’t handle the frustration. You have been amazing. You are amazing. I know you didn’t post this to hear those compliments but you do deserve to hear the praise. It is so hard to re-evaluate yourself constantly. I have faith in you. Always have. Always will.

  6. Oh, Mags. This post makes me want to reach through cyberspace and hug you. I hope you can give your awesome self the grace you deserve. You’ve done so much, and have worked so hard, you deserve some guilt-free time to rejuvenate. I know a bolt of inspiration will unexpectedly hit you and you’ll be the ridiculously prolific writer you can’t help being. Until then, please be kind to yourself. Hugs.

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