Writer’s Journal

The writer’s process. There’s a certain point when a writer should keep a journal of their experiences, and like so many other things in this world, you’ll just know when that is. You’ll just know. Cheap fucking dodge.

But in this journal you’ll write down your reflections on what you’re writing, your doubts about the plot, how the characters have surprised you, what else was going on in the world that got in the way of writing or augmented it. Then after a year, you find yourself bored and seeking inspiration, and you leaf through past entries in your journal, and if you were honest you won’t hate yourself. If you write like you’re on a grand adventure and trying to impress someone, you’ll probably burn the journal up, as it deserves. But if you’re candid and searching and artless, then you’ll find something useful in there. You’ll even appreciate how far you’ve come. You might be charmed with where you were, you might even long for that stage again.

I don’t have one of those journals. I was required to keep one for a writing class, and I wrote the whole thing out the night before I was supposed to turn it in. Used different pens, handwriting, emotional states and everything. Didn’t hurt my GPA any. But I wish I’d taken it seriously and met the exercise halfway, because now I’m not in the habit. That’s what I’m doing right now, though. I’m not writing any stories, so I may as well write up a journal entry, neh?

I haven’t been able to write freely for about four months, maybe longer. I lost track. I have several theories as to why this is, but I’m not going to blame any single one of these factors. One is that I broke myself after that Patreon rush, writing 5K-word commissions on topics tangentially related to my interests and sometimes in violation of them. For money. Both of those are factors, putting so much cognition into something incompatible with me, and doing so for money. It was good money, though, and it let me commission a custom video and some artwork, and supporting the scene is never a bad thing. Or is it.

I don’t belong to any orthodox religion as I believe they’re all hypocritical and inhuman, but I am very spiritual. I do believe in extraplanar entities, alien intelligence we lack the faculty to perceive and comprehend, all sorts of indefinite things that the jury’s still out on. I’ve had a few supernatural incidents in my life, including a very alarming one in Thailand during a time I was susceptible to that. So I wonder if something has attached itself to me. There’s a theory that, much like how we once had dozens of symbiotic organisms living within us, we also have several extraplanar entities connected with us at any given moment. Some are benign or neutral, others are inimical to our organism. I feel like I’ve got one latched onto me that’s… if not draining my creativity, then blocking the flow of it to communication. I still have creative thoughts and I fill notebooks with story ideas, but when I sit down to start writing, I become tired, and the angry kind of tired like a toddler who’s stayed up too late. I hate the story before I’ve even written anything, and this is directly opposed to the real joy I used to experience, fingers flying over 90 wpm, transcribing my lurid visions into online copy within an hour or two. Fuck, I did that story-a-day challenge for three months! That was free of cost, that was out of the sheer love of writing, no motive greater than wanting to bulk up my blog and turn it into a website people would actually want to go to.

Now my readership numbers are dropping, visits going down from 300 people in the US and Europe wanting to read a post to 20 people around the world finding me by accident. SizeCon was two months ago: that’s less than ten months left to outline, draft, edit, revise, format, and submit a new book for publication. Time is moving so swiftly now. I complained about how quickly August was gone, and now September’s almost done. What the fuck.

I don’t know how to get my mojo back, whatever you want to call it. I tried the rituals: I used to set a place to invite my muse (go look up muse/genius/daemon sometime, speaking of extraplanar entities). My Vonnegut votive, some screwy cocktail I threw together, the glitch-electronica of one of my favorite artists (to whose music I used to torture myself with writing, for the sake of tearing the veil between this mundane world and the realm of giantesses), closed blinds, one floor lamp, everything all coziness and sybaritic delight…

And it fell flat. I have no rituals, or the rituals mean nothing. The gods are dead in my sky, the giantesses have fled. They’re there, they want nothing to do with me.

Maybe I have to commit to taking a break and going away, instead of lingering around and abusing myself with disappointment when I can’t pull off this one miracle. Give up the expectations of producing any stories, walk away from the chore of extending my series. Writers are supposed to be readers, and I haven’t read anything in a long time. I charged up my Nook and started reading other size writers’ works, but my teeth ache with needing to edit them. No, what I have to do is tackle the TBR stack by my bed, immerse myself in other worlds, stuff that interests me and stuff that’s good for me but doesn’t speak to my heart. Maybe I’ll even try to live up to my Goodreads goal for reading for 2018, though time is decidedly running out.

5 thoughts on “Writer’s Journal

  1. (As a preface written afterwards, my apologies if I sound like I’m trying to solve your problems rather than empathize with you, I’m an engineer at heart and it shows in my demeanor)

    I can empathize with this. I would say that I was born to write code for computers, but for a number of years now I’ve been getting more and more burnt out. I can barely function at work anymore (which thankfully I’m quitting at the end of this month, so I can stop feeling so guilty about it). Occasionally I can get past those feelings and slip into that flow state I am always chasing after, but it’s a pretty rare occasion these days.

    I don’t have anything clever really to say on the subject. When I think about burnout it reminds me of the Kiki’s Delivery Service movie. Its gentle portrayal of feeling lost and blocked as a common human state is a bit comforting to me, at least. Sometimes taking a break, an actual break where you’re not stressing out over the problem, is the right way to go. And if it doesn’t work out, well, you’d probably just spend that time pushing down on your gas pedal with the parking brake up anyways, so you’re not losing out in the long-run.

    Another perspective that comes from more Eastern philosophies (and, surprisingly, logotherapy as I learned today) is that worrying about something happening is often enough to cause it to happen. Let’s take my sleep as an example. I have an extraordinarily hard time falling asleep. It usually takes me about an hour to 2 hours to fall asleep after getting into bed with lights off and white noise on. But when I lay down to take an afternoon nap, or to just relax a bit, I can fall asleep within 20 minutes. I think it’s because at night I get into the mindset “I have to fall asleep now, so I can wake up on time and get enough sleep”, and so I worry about falling asleep. The anxiety I have actually keeps me up. Whereas with an afternoon nap it doesn’t matter if I sleep or not, it’s just a quick rest, so sleep will come easy. Perhaps the best way to do something is to do it without trying, though if you find out how to do that I’m sure there’s a ton of zen buddhists out there who would love to become your students.

    Well, I’d throw my pick-me-up booklist at you but I’m sure you probably have your own list you curate. I hope you can get your mojo back, whatever I want to call it. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate this very thoughtful and comprehensive response. You’re showing me how seriously you take my distress, and you’re reaching within to offer what you’ve got to help out. That is marvelous of you.

      I remember a comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, that on the way to a punchline suggested that people live several lifetimes in their lives, roughly in ten-year blocks. I don’t resemble who I was at 10−19, and I’m not doing now anything close to what I was doing 20−29. Articles in business journals come out all the time talking about how many times people change careers, and perhaps that’s necessary.

      And I know all the right answers about forgiving oneself, taking permission to write crap just to write, walking away and clearing one’s head, but for some reason I’m not implementing those remedies. I’m doing little of the self-care I preach to others, that’s becoming apparent. Perhaps I have to do the drastic thing and take my own advice.


  2. Just an hour ago I had a similar thought. I’m going through my own kind of block. I can write but there is no joy. My joy is gone. Maybe it’s time to take a long break. I think I’ll go down the most urgent things on my to-do list, and then I’ll revisit my thought. I’m tired. My muse is gone. Writing is exhausting now, when it used to be energizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds right, or familiar. Maybe we’ve been pushing ourselves too hard. I don’t know what’s “too hard” and what’s appropriate. I do hear Neil Gaiman’s mocking tone in my head when I question it, and my ensuing “well, I’ll show you” reaction doesn’t seem to be helping anymore. I guess I won’t be a writer for a while, and I guess that’s not the worst thing ever.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stupid Neal Gaiman doesn’t know shit.

        No, it’s not the worst thing ever, but it feels and sounds like the worst thing ever to me. But not as “worse” as how we feel right now. I do have faith that we’ll both figure out a way out of our own mazes, and we’ll emerge at the other end more knowledgeable and aware.

        Liked by 1 person

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