The Personal Journey

When You Lose Your Inspiration: A Writing Journey

On November 1, I set out to begin what I’d been promising myself I’d do before the year was over.  At the birth of a new year, I made the resolution that I was going to start my first novel before 2018 was through, even if it meant just writing a sentence or two to get underway.  But there was a problem.  I had no idea what to write about.  I had so many different characters running around in my head, but no idea what to do with them.  I had spent most of 2017 getting back into writing as I had taken hiatus from the short story.  Aside from blogging, I hadn’t really done any creative writing since high school.  And I knew that 2018 was going to be my year.  I was going to do it this time.  I just knew it.

And so for months, I struggled with finding a concept, a theme on which to base my story.  Would I stick to something I had written about the year prior.  Would I rearrange some of my fan fiction to make it more publish-able?  I knew I could use some of my characters, but in what way?  Every idea that came to mind became gibberish once I jotted it down and got to see it for what it was.  It was either too simple or too complicated.  And because I struggle with being too much in my own head, I worried that I’d come up with a great idea, something I was super excited about, but it had already been done before.  Most ideas for novels have been done before, and I knew that it was all about creating my story in a different way, telling that story in a different voice.  But I was worried.  I deeply wanted to create something unique, something moving, something special.

They say that everyone’s life is their own story to tell, that every part of our lives is a chapter in our book.  And so I decided to look inward.  Was there something I had experienced, something I was dealing with, something I had learned that could lend itself to a little creative mix-up?  Could I use my own life as inspiration?  It felt scary because I didn’t want to become vulnerable to just about anyone.  I was deeply afraid of writing from a place that hurts because I didn’t want to affect anyone whom I loved.  This was something I had to pray over, to mull over.  I needed to be sure that it was a good idea, and I needed to find a way to be okay with telling a story very personal to me.  I needed to know it would do somebody some good, even if it brought about more pain for me.

And so on November 1, I started.  I started writing.  It was amazing how it suddenly just happened when a few weeks ago, I still was so unsure of what I wanted to do.  The writing process in that first month was freeing.  It was therapeutic because in those moments, as my fingers hit each key, I found myself letting go of all the hurt and pain I’d experience.  I found my inspiration of telling a story that someone else will definitely relate to.  I was relieved in knowing that perhaps this tale hadn’t been told before, and even if it had been, I was confident in my ability to tell it in my own unique voice.  There was a place for my story.  I just had to finish.

writing GIF

I cruised along for most of the month, the words just seeming to flow seamlessly.  I blogged about it, bragged about my writing journey and how this story was pretty much writing itself.  I joined several dozen writing groups online and connected with countless other writers on social media, other posting about my daily word count totals.  I was so excited that I was finally hitting the goals I had set for myself, and that by at least the end of February, I might possibly be done with my first draft!  I had never felt more like a real writer than in those moments.

But then something strange happened.  A interesting wind of change blew through my daily forecast, disrupting all I had set out to do in my writing journey.  Suddenly, the words were harder to come by.  The writing seemed to drag on.  I felt as though I was struggling to reach my daily goal.  And I wasn’t happy with the product I was putting out there.  The self-doubts came.  My personal life was crumbling it seemed.  And my writing had stalled.  Just like they said it would.

So here it is, February, and I am still sitting around 40,000 words in my first draft, barely making it over the climatic hump, if I can even call it that.  I came to a point when I had no idea what I was even writing about, and although I knew how I wanted my story to end, I didn’t know what to make of my characters.  My antagonist didn’t seem so bad now.  My protagonist’s love interest was getting to be more and more of an asshole than I originally intended.  And I feared that would screw up everything that I had planned for this story.  I was at a crossroads.  Which way am I to go now?

So here I am, taking a long break from this first draft that I am not all that excited about anymore.  I still long to write, and to find ways to practice and hone my craft, I’ve dived even further into my blogging.  I still find ways to interact with other writers online, although I’ve scaled back my participation in groups just a tad.  I’ve started reading for fun again, as most of my writing was accompanied by “how to” books.  I buckled down on my job search and began interviewing for positions outside of the home.  I started a new volunteer opportunity.  I started watching the news again.  And most importantly, I parent with my whole heart and my whole being.

cozy sarah chalke GIF by HULU

I have found ways to deal with this disappointing turn of events in my writing journey.  And I am convinced that the time will emerge once more in which I will take to my keyboard with the same fervor that got me 40,000 words deep.  A stall in inspiration is not the end of the writing journey, my friends.  It is just your compass telling you it might be best to head another way.

Write On,

Robin 

 

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