I’m just going to say it. I had/have that which shall not be named as an author.
The feared, the dreaded, and the cursed, writer's block.
And, baby, I had it bad. Like sit in front of a computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, my best writing playlist jamming, a vivid idea for the scene in my head, and still couldn’t force my fingers to move, bad.
They were frozen. If I didn’t let them hover over the keys, I could wiggle them around like the best spirit hands you’ve seen since the original Bring It On movie, but as soon as they inched closer to the word making machine they felt frozen in place, like when you lick an icy pole in the dead of winter, stuck.
But, Graceley, you’re writing this post, so how can you say you have writer’s block, still to this day?
Because I do. Plain and simple.
I’ve been trying to write my first chapter for the final Lyra book, and I’m only two paragraphs in, in two weeks time. Dee, God love her, is writing her parts, and not pushing me as much as she can, but also as much as she should be as my partner in this series, to get me to finish this one so I can move on to the next book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to write this book. I had so much fun plotting it out and adding in OMG moments with Dee, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. However, the sensitive creative side of me is running away from it, screaming like a little kid after the ice cream truck.
Another project I’m working on, and dying to write, I’m stuck in chapter 3, unsure which freaking direction I want to take the story. Unsure about every single minuscule detail.
Because, writer's block. It’s not nice. It’s not polite. It’s rude, and a total bitch.
I’ve heard a lot lately from posts on social media, messages from writing buddies, and just my peeps in general, that burnout is spreading like wildfire. And it’s no joke. And you’re not alone, my fellow creatives. Below, I’ll share my story in as much detail as I can, so hopefully someone else struggling knows they aren’t the only one. And it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay not to feel guilty about taking a day off to binge the latest Netflix show or drink a cup of coffee without multitasking and doing twenty things at once.
So here goes nothing, my grammar is probably horrible, I’ve probably got typos, but it is what it is.
This past summer, Dee and I wrote our faces off. Like literally there was a point where we couldn’t say good morning to each other without wanting to stab each other in the eye with a dull spoon because we were writing 7 days a week, constantly in contact, constantly creating worlds, plots and basically working to get ahead with the books we wanted to release, so we could build a backlist and be able to market it while we pursued other projects that are some of our wildest, craziest, reach for the stars, dreams.
Then came end of August and the last book for my first ever couple, Ever and Dare, Castle of Illusions, came out. Should have been awesome right? But it wasn’t.
The dummy file I’d written about 4 years ago, that had my worst ever writing, random notes within the text, plot holes, and ideas so scattered, even I can’t make sense of them anymore, was released instead of the final Ever and Dare book.
To say I was mortified, is an understatement. As a writer, you grow as you write. With every edit, you learn something new. And my first attempts that I’d shoved into a corner, never to be seen again, were out there, and people were PISSED. Send me hate e-mails, give me 1 star reviews, screaming at me, pissed. I did everything I could to fix the issue, and get the right book out. But it took two weeks and by then, the damage was done.
I called my mom, called my dad, called Dee, and I balled my eyes out, I don’t know how many times, thinking this was the end of my writing career. Everyone was mad at me for the mistake, and everyone was furious at me because they thought it was the last book in the Wicked Kingdoms series, not just the last book for the characters Ever and Dare, even with the explanation it wasn’t in my newsletter, social media, and in the blurb of the book on the page you purchase it from.
I was physically sick, and there was nothing I could do but sit back, throw a prayer up to every god and goddess there is, and watch the car wreck unfold in front of me. The day before it happened, I’d had plans to start 3 new books and have them out before the end of the year. I had covers, I had plots, character names, everything. But then I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t write one fucking word.
Dee, the saint that she is, held my hand, praised my writing, said everything right, and still, I couldn’t write. I barely made it through finishing another book we had coming out, and still then, she had to take on some of my parts. Which made me feel like shit. I felt like not only had I failed my readers, I was now failing my co-writer.
Mind you, Dee has never said that to me. Ever. Through everything, she never once said, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re dragging me down, you’re a horrible writer, just give up, Graceley. Not one time, no matter how many times I had that nightmare. Literally. She’s been patient, she’s been kind, she’s sent me funny quotes, reminded me about how awesome of a writer I can be, and generally, picked my ass up off the pavement when I face-planted hard on it.
So we released the books we’d saved up and I worked on me, and trying to figure out how I could get back in the writing saddle when stringing two words together felt like getting trampled by a thousand horses.
I read self help books. I worked on my rune practice. I picked up a paintbrush again. I did crafts. I started crocheting again, I kept plotting when I could, I cuddled my pups and my kitties, and I plowed through a ton of shows on demand.
Still, I couldn’t get out of my own way. Then, something happened (which, I’ll keep private for now, because it’s still not resolved as of yet), and I had to snap out of it. I couldn’t be that person who would give up, and say, ‘well, I had a good run. It was fun while it lasted.’
This is my dream job. Writing and books are my passion, and I can literally talk someone's ear off with the mention of anything publishing.
I plunged into a random project I hadn’t planned to start, and didn’t even really know I had an idea for yet, and wrote almost three complete chapters. I was back baby! I was ready to rock this shit, take on the world by storm, and so I grabbed the outline for Lyra’s final book, and I read Dee’s first chapter, and LOVED it. Like she literally couldn’t have written that chapter better if she’d tried. Or I’d tried. Or we’d tried. It was, and is, perfect.
So I dove into my chapter and wrote a paragraph, was cruising, then I couldn't remember a detail, since it’s been so long since I was in the world, and that doubt crept in. Like a fog, like a mist in the morning, like a god damned high speed train.
Dee and I joked about it, and she asked me what she could do to help, and I said nothing. I figured I’d get over it in a day. Just had to reset. But I didn’t. Then I wrote another paragraph. Yay, success! Until my fingers stopped moving. AGAIN.
I know right? Getting a bit repetitive here, G, let’s pick up the fucking pace, eh? Tell us the happy ending.
The truth is, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you, Lyra’s sitting on the editor's desk, and Dee and I are sipping mimosas on FaceTime, laughing about how it was so easy to finish that trilogy, and we’re fuckin’ rockstars. But we’re not. Finished writing the book, that is.
I’m still working on it. I’m taking it day by day. Minute by minute. And I’m still begging Lyra and her men to talk to me. To speak the hell up or forever hold their peace, but I’ll be damned if I’m not writing this out, rather than writing the sexy time scene that’s on deck.
The moral of this story? Don’t be afraid to take time to fill up your cup. Cliche, I know, but color me purple if it isn’t true. This writing and being creative job is taxing. It takes everything out of you. Body, mind, and soul. And if you’re not feeling the reason for why you do it, every second, or well like once a day at least, take a step back and pause.
Throw out the guilt, throw out the pressing deadlines, the pressure to produce more content, and take a few minutes to your damn self. Talk to a friend about it, open up the dialogue and don’t be ashamed about it. Let me repeat that last one, for all you stubborn, in your own head, creatives out there.
DON’T BE ASHAMED. To have writer’s block. To binge that show you’ve had on your must watch list for months, to read that book that just came out, or to nap for hours.
Whatever it is you want to do, indulge yourself. Even if it’s just for a little while.
Signing off, still hurling expletives at Lyra, but feeling a whole lot better about getting this shit off my chest.