The Delight of Nothing

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is at the start for me to do nothing.  Especially after four straight months of always on, always working.  But I did it.  Other than a couple of notes on stray thoughts, I did NOTHING yesterday that was writing related.  It was fantastic once I got into it.  I feel surprisingly recharged, other than the irritation of having to stop doing nothing and go to work today.  That sucked.

The funny thing about all that nothing is that it seemed to have allowed me to de-stress enough and stop thinking about The Nine enough to let my brain make some progress in the background on it.  I’ve a basic idea of how I want to handle a bunch of things, including one of the knottier issues I was facing, and I don’t feel nearly as pressured about this being the close of the trilogy anymore. Hell, I was joking about it today, and for those of you who don’t know me all that well, that means I’m not worried about it.  It’s when I lose any ability to tell jokes about a subject that you know I’m suffering some serious angst about it.

So yeah, slowly building out the story for The Nine while I let Possession sit in the magical drawer (folder on my computer). I expect to be ready for outlining at least, if not already started that stage, by the time I pull Possession back out and reread it.  I may read back through DM again beforehand, just to regain the perspective of “here’s where people will be when they come into the story.”  We’ll see.

I really do feel better about a lot of things that had begun to irritate me in general, work, writing, self, all of it.  I’m starting to think that maybe working 7 days a week is bad for you or something 😮 I know, you’re all as shocked by that as I am.  Or maybe just shocked by my admitting it.  Okay, yes, I’ve been pushing myself a little too hard, and had a wee bit of trouble taking the foot off the gas when I needed to, desperately needed to in fact.  I’m starting to think that, when it comes time to write The Nine, I’m going to need to build a 6-day a week schedule, rather than say that I will write every day for hours.  I won’t necessarily take that day off (hey, I’m being honest here, don’t throw things at me), but I will at least feel like I’m allowed to when I have a day that I can’t seem to dial into the story, or I’m tired, or whatever.  I think giving myself permission to do that might be important to finding that balance I keep going on about.

I’ve also given a fair bit of thought on why I’ve been pushing myself so hard.  I’m not going to blame Tavis (he’s not nearly as pushy as, oh say, Devan), and I’m not even going to let myself off by saying the story was flowing and I just went with it.  That was the case for most of Possession, no doubt about that, but the ending was like pulling teeth and I’m not happy with it, yet I pretty literally forced myself to it anyway, rather than doing the sensible thing and letting myself have that day off that I had definitely earned.  So why did I do that to myself (stupidly) and risk burn out? I think the easiest way to explain it is to admit that I feel guilty some days.  Maybe that seems silly to some, especially in light of what I’ve managed to accomplish in the last four months, but it’s true.

Remember how I said that I discovered writing when I was 16? I’m almost 34 now.  Almost 18 years have passed since I realized that writing is very much part of who I am and what I want to be doing with my life, and what have I been doing? Mostly not writing, that’s what.  I feel like I have severely wasted my time because I was scared, miserable, tired, the list goes on, but they were all excuses, really.  I think I’ve proven that’s all they were.  I could have been writing for the last 18 years, but I didn’t, and I sometimes wonder where I would be, skill-wise, if I had been writing.  Maybe I needed that time to gain a greater perspective on life, people, feelings, the world, all the kinds of things that get woven into stories, even when you write Fantasy like I do (or maybe it’s especially when you write Fantasy and have some seriously bizarre elements in the world). But mostly I feel like I let myself down and now I have to make it up to myself, and make the most of every minute I have for writing.  Man, that sounds stupid to me as I type it, but it’s still my feelings on the matter.  I feel like I have to make up for all that time I wasted when I should have been writing, so I drive myself mercilessly.  I have to get a handle on this, though, or I’ll do myself some serious damage.

I’ve decided that I’m going to dial back the 30-day goal when it comes time to start that process with The Nine.  Yes, I know, I beat pace every day when writing both of the novels I’ve completed, but I’m on to me there too. I’m going to tell myself that pace is okay (rather than a starting point), that 3k is amazing, and to quit for the day while I still have brain cells that function and am somewhat awake. I’m going to keep reminding myself of that as many times as I have to until I have it pounded through my seriously thick skull.  There is no point in making myself brain dead for my writing. I’m not good enough for it to be worth that price, and even if I were that awesome, it still wouldn’t be worth it.

It’s amazing the perspective a day of not immersing yourself in your chosen obsession can give you.  And for anyone who might be wondering why I’m saying all of this here, it’s for the same reason I announce my writing goals here.  I’m trying to keep myself honest, and not let myself sidle away from it.  I’m good at it, trust me, but knowing that I have told people, that I have staked out specifically what I’m going to do keeps me from twisting my own words, or telling myself I didn’t really mean it, or that halfway is enough.  It gives me something to live up to, and I’m noticing time and again that it’s working for me.

In other news, I think Sketh and Devan are going to end up having a duel or something for my time when I finish the trilogy.  Now they BOTH won’t leave me alone.  I’d be irritated, but we all know I am entirely happy to have a million ideas rolling around in my head.  If they’d only stop waking me up in the middle of the night, I’d delightedly tell them to get comfy.  Inconsiderate bastards, these necromancers and mercenaries, keeping a lady up at night. 🙂

Yes, I know, I still haven’t done my Tag post or the two awards I’ve received, but I’ll be honest, writing and photography and thoughts about those things are always going to come first on this blog.  It’s just who I am.  I’ll get to those, though, really, I will.

Finally, before my fingers drop off or Tavis gets impatient, tonight’s picture:


About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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12 Responses to The Delight of Nothing

  1. TheOthers1 says:

    I was suffering from a bit of burnout after I finished my draft recently. Unfortunately, I can’t get my groove back. I’ve been doing some flashes and shorts, but I’m not interested in tackling anything (reading for a few people or editing my own work). I think my brain hasn’t recovered yet.

    • Julie says:

      Ouch. I’m sorry to hear that you hit that point. Maybe just noodle around with an idea, no actual writing, just ideas, thoughts, what-ifs, that kind of thing, and with no need for it to turn into anything. I often find that will get me in the writing place in my brain (which lately seems to have taken over most of the other areas). I wish you a speedy recovery, though. 🙂

  2. drewpan says:

    You’ve gotta get out more. Sometimes you’ll be forcing yourself to write without having any genuine desire to do so. I mean, you want to write, but you don’t feel inspired to write… if that makes sense.

    It just hit me recently because I was watching a musical with my family, and while listening to the wicked witch of the East belt out a song I first heard on Glee, I received an epiphany that really helped structure an idea for a story that I’ve been mulling over for close to a decade now!

    • Julie says:

      Lol, trust me, as much as you’re right about me needing to get out more, inspiration is not my problem, except in the excess of it. Take a look at my project status page and you might understand what I mean. I just don’t have enough hours/days/weeks/years to write everything I want to write.

      I always want to write, to the point that I forget to eat, don’t sleep enough, things like that. But when I have trouble with where I planned to take a story next, I feel this…resistance, and I feel like I should write anyway, because sometimes I start out that way, but then I work it out and have a great writing session. And sometimes it doesn’t work that way. I need to learn how long I’m willing to keep pushing before I admit it won’t work out well this time. I’m not good at that yet.

      Glad you got your own story idea moving though.

  3. I confess that I love non-writing days. After spending three years on my latest project, I take great pleasure crashing in front of the TV or reading a book without worrying about a daily word count! That said, I can’t go everyday without writing.

    As for waiting 18 years to pick up the pen . . . don’t regret that you didn’t start sooner. Some people spend their entire life saying they’re going to write something and never get a single word down on paper. You’re already way ahead of the curve.

    • Julie says:

      Agreed on all counts, especially the part about people always saying they’re going to write and never doing it (fear of becoming that is what kicked me into action really). That said, somehow knowing how right you are, knowing that it’s amazing in it’s own way that I got up and did it at all, continue to do it, somehow none of that does anything about that voice in the back of my head that talks about how much time I pissed away. Oh well. Maybe it’ll at least get lost behind the babble of characters and ideas in my head… 🙂

  4. winsomebella says:

    Sometimes a recharge is the best thing you can do for yourself. You deserve a bit of it after all you have accomplished!

  5. I feel what you’re saying. I just turned 30 and I didn’t start writing till I was 23 or 24. So I too feel a certain amount of “making up for lost time” anxiety though apparently not to nearly the same degree or at least not in the same way, as my output doesn’t hold a candle to yours. I’ve never really been one to push it. If the writing doesn’t come, I don’t do it. And if all that comes is 300 or 400 words, that’s what I do. Now of course, I read things like, to some extent this blog, or some of the stuff Brad Torgersen has posted on Hatrack and I get a little anxious, thinking that sort of attitude is “unprofessional.” However, I realize there has been a progression. Not counting part of 2011 when I had major life stuff going on, for the last couple of years or so, I have been pretty consistent. I’ve written, either producing new material or revision, nearly every day. In the past 8 months or so I’ve produced some half dozen short stories and 5 and a half novel chapters…not to mention the energy it took me to actually tackle the idea of a novel, which has already intimidated me.
    Anyway, all this biographical nonsense is leading into a thing I have learned and you seem to be learning, namely, downtime is important, and pushing too hard is bad. Sometimes you can learn or accomplish more by not doing a thing for a while, letting the mind process in its own unconscious ways. While we both may have lost time to make up for, I’d rather compensate for the lost opportunities, by really making what it is I want to make and, hopefully, getting it out to others (which I have done some of) rather than trying to “replace” the time lost hour for hour and word for word.

    • Julie says:

      Most of the output does flow, it’s not quite so high because I’m pushing that badly. I just need to learn to ease off on the days when it doesn’t flow. I think my biggest problem is that I do most things like this, full throttle or not at all. It’s not healthy, and I’m working on it, but right now, I think the best thing for me is being aware of it. I don’t actually believe that I can replace lost time, because I know time only flows in one direction (outside of my imagination anyway), but it does make me feel like I have to make up for the lost learning I would have had if I’d been writing for those years that I wasn’t. I suppose that learning to take downtime is one of those lessons too though.

  6. I’ve had the same feeling about getting back to painting as you do about getting into writing. I even just blogged about it. It was like finding an old friend.
    I don’t know why we have to wait. I think the important thing is that we do finally get to it. Which means ,we have not entirely waited our lives. We know the importance of accomplishment. We will get it done.
    Plus we have our blog buddies to encourage us an let us know we are not alone and we’re normal.
    Have fun with your novel.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks, Phyllis. Good luck with your painting 🙂

      And you’re absolutely right, we at least haven’t waiting our entire lives, which someone else above pointed out that plenty of others do. They never start. We at least did that much, no matter where we get with it. 🙂

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