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Droughts and making time for your writing

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series My writing journey

My first original novel was almost my last. Writing it had already changed the trajectory of my life (or at least my major!). But around 80 single spaced pages in (no idea on the word count; I didn’t measure that way back then!), my plot kind of fizzled and I wasn’t really sure what to do next.

Hm… Sounds a little too familiar.

After some struggling and some deleting, I eventually abandoned the novel—and, with it, my writing aspirations. That mostly had to do with 1.) aforementioned blocks, 2.) leaving my computer and the manuscript with friends while I went home (2000 mi away) for the summer and 3.) not having quite so much free time to write when I came back.

But when there was no other creative writing, no solutions for that novel, and no ideas for a new one, the doubts would creep into my mind: I’m a failure. I’m not a real writer. I’ll never finish a novel.

That writing drought lasted for over five years: through the rest of college, meeting my husband, and having our first child.

That didn’t mean I left writing entirely alone. Whenever I was really upset about something, I always needed a short story to work through my emotions. And of course, those short stories had to be highly “literary” because that’s what “real” writers wrote: literary short stories. I had no idea where they got them published, but that wasn’t my intent.

I still wanted to be an author, but somewhere in my mind I think I figured it’d be something I’d do later. After college. After my kids were in school.

Okay, I’m still not to the point where all my kids are in school, but I’ve learned something since then. You don’t have to wait to write. If you wait until the time is perfect, you’ll miss out on all the time you have now.

Making time for writing is all about making choices—sometimes hard choices, sometimes sacrifices. It’s about making writing a priority—not necessarily your top priority all the time, but putting it ahead of other things that you don’t really want as much.

In the end, however, my writing drought didn’t end because of this realization (that came later). It ended because of one particularly inspiring dream—and, I guess, another loose variation on the fanfic theme.

Have you ever quit writing for a while? Why? Come join the conversation!

Photo by Justin Cozart

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2 Responses to Droughts and making time for your writing

  1. debs says:

    I always wanted to write, and from time to time I would have a stab. But my first drafts were terrible, and I didn’t realise that first drafts were supposed to be terrible. Nobody told me! I just thought I was rubbish.

    *laughs* It wasn’t until I was approaching my 40th birthday that I decided to give it a real go. I’ said, ‘I’ll give it a year, and try to get something published’

    I haven’t stopped since.

  2. Kierstin Marquet says:

    I had to put it on hold because I had to help my husband rescue my father-in-law from a nurse who told F.I.L, “You don’t have Alzheimer’s.” and “I can make you better!”

    Yes, it was a total nightmare and cost F.I.L approximately $180,000 and it took us 21 months to rescue him. (The wheels of justice are square and were almost thwarted by her flight to a different state.) Between my husband and I, we logged hundreds of man hours to get/create the documentation necessary to do it and that’s not counting the sleepless nights.

    Although I delayed my own dreams of becoming a published author by over a year, (and I still owe Jordan a critique) we could never leave a loved one “behind.” Taking care of family is an endeavor that should always come first.

    That being said, my kids have learned to fend for themselves while I’m writing. My 12-year-old can make a mean pizza from scratch, and my 15-year-old knows how to sooth the grumpy lady trying to meet a deadline by making gooey brownies.

    The really good news: as soon as I’m done with my current 3-5 book series of romantic suspense novels, I’ve got an incredible story to tell about miracles that occurred because we loved my father-in-law enough to dig through trash–literally.

Author photo by Jaren Wilkey
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