After hours of trying to write, I’m back where it all began, this space.
Daily (w)rite began as a daily writing ritual, more for myself than anyone else. And that’s where I need to return the writing self–where I write for myself and not others. To write used to be play, not a chore.
Friends tell me this is burnout, that I need to fill up the my creative bank in order to be able to write with abandon. I’m able to write non-fiction, articles and interviews (which is what I’ve mostly been doing for the past 3 months), and the occasional flash fiction–like this one for the Decade Blog-hop—but anything longer is taking uncharacteristic effort.
I’m trying to coast along on the journey of You Beneath Your Skin: the fact that readers are donating to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.
That You Beneath Your Skin has been named one of the top 5 page Indian turners on MensXP magazine.
And that it has received great reviews on its recent UK blog tour:
Hair Past a Freckle: Important story told with sensitivity and insight
Echoes in an Empty room: A chilling novel that has broken and dysfunctional families, drug abuse, betrayal and horrible violence
The Bookxpert: Heart-breaking, horrific and inspirational all at the same time
Scintilla: A gripping read, one that will stay with me for a long time to come
Catriona Fida: The writing was evocative, easily digestible and made for a real binge-worthy book.
Paterson Loarn: A plot that has both enormous significance in the real world, and an undertow of genuine emotion
Miss Known : a beautiful story filled with hopes, dreams, and love, set in a dreadful world.
With each review, I’ve been a little reassured, but it hasn’t made me at ease about my writing.
I mostly write like no one would ever read it, at least for the first draft. I need to get back to that, and soon.
As a writer, do you ever write like no one would ever read it?
“You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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I’ve been struggling to write lately as well, I think December is always a whirlwind and everyone in my house has been plagued by bugs in Jan. Hopefully, I will find my groove in Feb.
I will definitely check out your book!
I wish I could always write like no one would read it. There’s always that voice in the back of my head. I’ve been working on trying to be as authentically me as possible. Sometimes I do and it surprises me when someone comments on my writing. I applaud your bravery to put your work out there. I’m reading your book now and am about 30% into it. (I’m a slow reader.) Great job and congratulations on your book! 🙂
Like dancing like no one’s watching? I think we need to do that, just to get the story out. I find it stifling if I consider how other people might take it, at least during a first draft. Congrats on your book’s great success!
I always write for my own enjoyment. The editing phase is where I think about the audience. 🙂 And congrats on the continued success of your book, Damyanti. Congrats!
I write for others to read, except for my diary. Although, there are days when I have poured out my innermost feelings in my diary, I wish someone read it and tried to understand me better.
I always write for other people to read. That’s true even for my personal journal. Someday, after I’ve had a number of books published, someone may want to do a master’s thesis on my writing process.
I sometimes imagine people are watching me as I write. This seems to improve my writing process.
I don’t know if any of this will help you. Maybe you’re grateful you don’t think the way I do.
That indeed is a unique writing process, Mark. I’ve never written a word in my personal journal that I expected others to read, and all my first drafts are for me alone, and no one ever sees them. I’d be paralysed otherwise, and not write a word 🙂
Everything I write starts out that way, Damyanti!
Damyanti – keep writing. Just don’t follow the traditional map to guide you back to writing. That map is old. And it may not work anymore. You are not where you started. Look for a new map and keep writing. The surroundings may look familiar. And the writing may not feel quite right. That is because you are on a journey of sorts. The map and the journey may not be as direct as you want. You will know when you get to where you are going. And the writing you seek will come again. Travel patiently. And keep sending post cards.
Thanks so much, John. SUch wise words. I had not thought of it this way. Advice like this is part of the reason I blog. You’re so right–the old map doesn’t seem to work anymore.
I’m not surprised you’re suffering from a bit of burn-out. Even those of us with less reason to be burnt out are a tad jaded after ten years of self-publishing and all the promotion that goes with it. Take your time… take a holiday, with no worthy causes or anything to think about other than refreshing your mental capacity (and your physical self for that matter). And don’t pressure yourself either with targets of things you ‘must’ do!
On the other side, I’ve started YBMS. Target for review on my blog is Feb 15. 🙂
Thanks, Jemima, that’s exactly what I intend to do. Maybe bake and read and sleep.
Thanks so much for starting on YBYS, and that target sounds great 🙂
I write for myself. Then, when “in the mood” I throw some of it out there. I’ve got some novels (I wrote!) I like re-reading, then changing some parts to see what happens. I’ve never tried to actually publish a novel, I guess mostly because I can’t be bothered or I’m too busy reading and writing, not to mention community work and regular work! Currently, apart from having 4 books on the go to read, I’m going through my essays (about a thousand of those), poems (about three hundred) and short stories (about two hundred) sorting, editing, reformatting… to what end? No idea except my invisible friends are standing, looking over my shoulders and telling me how much they’re enjoying reading with me. Good enough!
That’s a huge body of writing! What a joy to look through all that treasure trove.
Of course! For me, that’s the definition of a first draft. I also write a journal and that is definitely for no one else’s eyes. And then there’s free writing — writing whatever comes into my mind and let my thoughts take me where they will. You’ll get back that spark of fun. Rest up, keep writing the nonfiction,and keep trying to have fun!
All good advice, Cinda, thanks. Your definition of the first draft is mine as well.
Rejoicing at the continuing success of your book Damyanti. 🙂
Thanks, as always, Ian.
I always write as though it’s purely for me.
I know exactly what you mean about burnout, though. I think it was about a year ago when I felt the same. I needed to fall back in love with writing. Not sure how I managed it, but I did. Maybe it just takes time.
Sarah, all my first drafts are purely for me.
You get me about burnout–I suppose it will need time.
I actually created a second blog where I post things that I don’t think anyone would want to read. It can be very painful but also cathartic. Especially when I’m feeling burnt out.
Yes, catharsis is probably what I need. I wish I could write an anonymous blog, but am not comfortable putting it all out there.
It’s a dilemma. The point of writing is for others to read and enjoy or benefit. Personally, the writing is so laborious that I can only write things that I myself like. My personal result is three very fine novels that no one reads. Keep writing. You seem to have good commercial sense.
I’ve always written things that I myself like–and have no commercial sense at all.
The book is doing its own thing, and I have a very small role in its journey. The readers of this blog, however have really helped–reading and reviewing the novel, and supporting it on social media.
I’m self published, which means I don’t feel my work has been ‘validated’ by the publishing industry. But on the plus side, I still write because I enjoy it, not because someone has imposed a deadline on me. Success is a double edged sword.
Bruce, being pubbed traditionally has its own pitfalls–I don’t know if being ‘validated’ is compensation enough. Self-publishing is a perfectly valid option, and increasingly, the wiser choice.
I’ve never enjoyed writing–I write because I can’t help it–it is a sort of affliction.
That has always been the case in more than a decade of writing. Even now, I want to write because I feel better having written, than when not writing. Sometimes, things gather inside and need to be let out in order for me to participate in normal, everyday life.
Also, please check your email! 🙂
Deep breath, keep writing, and wait for this cycle to pass–as it truly will. Everything is cyclical and it shouldn’t be long before you find your writing-self back in its comfort zone. All the best!
That’s my mantra. This too shall pass.
Damyanti, could you cut back on the non-fiction? It might help.
That’s exactly what I’m thinking. Thank you.
A walk or cycle ride may help, simple excercise in the fresh air.
Yes!! Only I currently am in no state to do this. It is first thing on my agenda once I return to my normal routine.
This is such a great post, jammed full of truth about the nuts-and-bolts of what writers do. I am a great fan of Julia Cameron, especially her “morning pages” exercise. She instructs us to write without thinking, first thing in the morning, without thinking who might read it. She implies that what we write during these exercises is not for anyone else. It is for us. The audience of ONE. Stephen King recommends writing the story or piece to YOU. He also emphatically states that a writer should not worry about spelling, syntax or punctuation during a FIRST draft. He reminds us that writing truly begins in the rewrite. This fits nicely with Cameron, for she says whenever we try to write the perfect piece in the first draft, we cause our “internal editor” (our critical self, if you will) to do the writing. There is censorship (careful now, you might hurt someone’s feelings!). There is the striving for error-free writing. Truly, this is NOT writing. This is more like preparing sanitized “public speak.” I read once that writers don’t necessarily have a “writing” problem; instead, they have a “telling” problem. This happens for a variety of reasons, including fear (of insulting or hurting someone else, of rejection) and the pursuit of (wait for it…) perfection. I love reading your posts. Have a GREAT day.
Thanks for stopping by with your insights, Steve.
I agree with your points entirely. I think in my case it is simply exhaustion. I’m too inured to rejection, and too used to being imperfect :).
I can relate there, for sure. I don’t want to do ANYTHING if I am exhausted. I also agree that we must “fill” our creativity gas tank. Julia Cameron recommends something that works for me. She says to take your “inner artist” on dates. Just you and YOU. Feed your creative side. Gallivant. Enjoy. Relax. Recharge. Have a great day!
Thanks, Steve. I need to do exactly that. In another two weeks, hopefully, when I’m back to my everyday life.
I tend to assume no-one will read most things I write! However, at the same time, I’m always stressed that I might have said something that could offend someone – people seem to be very easily offended these days – so it would be nice to be able to ignore that, and just write what I think.
I always write without any care for who will read it and what they will think–but this time, somehow that part of me is in a funk. Need to write more, for longer.
You’re right though, people do get offended easily these days.
Burnout can happen. (See Chrys Fey’s posts on writer burnout.) Just relax and write what you want and it will come back.
I know it will, but I feel a little bereft.