The impotent writer

What is wrong with me!?

I’m a writer that doesn’t want to write. I cannot make the words appear on page and I cannot edit the words I already have. The stories are there, but I cannot rise to perform.  For Christ’s sake, not two years ago I wrote a hundred thousand word novel in two months. And then I went on to other writing projects unfazed! I was a machine. I was churning out story after story, getting idea after idea, editing a novella in a few days and now . . . my brain doesn’t work. I’m jealous of my past self and of other writers. Like how dare you go out and produce books while I’m over here not.

The days pass by, they turn into weeks and then months and now it is the fourth month of my burnout. How much further along could I be if I wasn’t like this? I watch things, but I feel no joy from watching. I buy books that I would otherwise be interested in, but give up after a few chapters or not even begin.

My USB is full of stories. I’ve written so much and yet I take no sense of joy, pride or accomplishment away from it. Its new home is under my desk instead of permanently plugged in my laptop. I could lose it and not care.

I’m supposed to be a writer Goddamnit! Why am I not writing? Why am I so impotent? How long will I not be able to get it up for? WTF is wrong with me? I feel like crying, but I prevent myself from losing control. What am I even doing with all this free time that I now have? I spend it thinking that I’m wasting my time and talent and then get simultaneously pissed off and sad when night falls because what I have I accomplished? What am I doing with my life? What else do I have? How did I lose passion for my passion?

How do I even get over burnout? Do I just wait until my mind gets better? How long do I have to wait? I’ve had plenty of time off work in the four months since I gave up. My sleep is fine, my diet is mostly fine. I’m exercising. I have ample free time for everything in my life. But I’m moody and irritable. I don’t want to do anything else but write because it’s the only thing that I really like doing. And now it’s a thing that does not bring me joy.

I wish I was a machine

I would say I have terrible writer’s block, however, I think it might be burnout. Really good time for it to kick in (not!). I have all the free time in the world because I’m back in Aust and not working, but I can’t seem to make myself write or edit 😦

I have several unfinished first drafts, that I know exactly what needs to happen. I have them planned out and everything. But it’s like smashing my head against a brick wall. No, I do not want to write, I don’t want to edit, and I don’t find joy from things like reading, playing computer games or surfing the net 😦

I take joy in the fact that the last two years of my writing journey has been super productive and I am really satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. I’m getting to the point where my first drafts are boss 🙂

But what am I supposed to do now?

How do I break out of it?

When will that happen?

What makes a good book, good?

Is it the prose?

The grammar?

The originality?

Not really unless your into those things. After having a moment of insecurity and wondering if my stories have what it takes to be latched onto by the readers, I googled the question: ‘What makes a good book?’

Turns out, it’s all about the feels, man!

The first link that appears is a list of people saying that they want good content, to learn something, and to go on a fun adventure. But how do you achieve this? Most people will read a book and think of it as a whole entity, not deconstruct singular elements. That can make things difficult when you want to know the exact ingredients on how to create a good book.

To start to understand that it’s human emotions that is the umbrella of a good story, you need to understand people. People are driven primarily by their feelings, we are emotional creatures. We love, grieve, seek out pleasure, get envious of others. Yes, there is also a logical component as well, but unfortunately, that comes second.

So by looking at emotions, we need to look at what goes into them. Sometimes it’s relatable characters in situations that we may never realistically encounter. It’s people going through a change that changes them. It’s enjoying the adventure because reading is a safe activity. It’s learning something with the character. That’s what people look for in a good book.

This is where the more technical aspects come in. You also need to be competent, though not the best, in your sentence structure and grammar. If you as an author cannot explain clearly what you are writing, then your readers will not know either. You need to know things like where this storyline going? Where will it end? What scenes go in what order. How are your characters changing?

In my opinion, I’m starting to think that this part of the book creation is given the wrong type of attention. Articles on the web go on about the structure of scenes and your grammar etc, but it only works when lumped with a storyline with all the feels.

Remember this. Perfectly composed sentences do nothing for a boring book. But average sentence structure describing how your character gets thrown under the bus will keep the wheels moving. 

Stories are like dreams

Ultimately I think all stories are dreams of some sort. Whether they originated from sleepy night adventures or awake daytime wanderings, it doesn’t really matter.

For me when I’m awake I can completely space out and dive head down into story that I am thinking of. I will literally block out what is going on around me to think about these stories. And some times these stories are simply better than what is going on around me.

There are times when I’m thinking of a story when it changes to something else or I will be thinking of something that is interesting to me and it begins to take on a life of its own.

I love that I am able to imagine all sorts of things in my head. I think it makes life interesting. I’d certainly be boring if I didn’t think of things like;

  • Don’t you wonder how much like would be different if we laid eggs instead gave birth?
  • Or what would happen if something catastrophic happened to the world around you?
  • Or what if gender roles were reversed?
  • Or what if we all lived in outer space/another planet?
  • Or what if we were enslaved by an alien race?
  • Or what if boobs could fly away?
  • Or what if something about you personally was completely different?
  • Or what if something smooth was rough and hurts to touch?

These are all dreams of some sort because you are thinking about these ideas in terms of emotions, sensations and images.