Stop & Go Writing

Getting anywhere?

This is the toughest blog post I’ve written in long time.  It’s hard not to write and feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the trash barrel.  After a tough week of writing, my momentum came to a halt.

There were times when I needed to keep moving and times when I needed a break.  I failed to recognize both of these instances, and it caused me to stall.  But one thing they had in common was the effect they had on my mind.

Taking a Break

A guest post that I wrote for a popular site was rejected.  In the grand scheme of things, this rejection is a small bump in the road. It didn’t mean that I was a failure or that I wrote a bad post.  It just wasn’t the right fit for this particular site.

Still, it didn’t feel this way.  I couldn’t shake this feeling I had that I didn’t get it right.

There’s a mini-grieving process that happens when a submission is turned down.  I was in the very first step of this process, yet I tried to work as if nothing happened.

I needed to take a short break, process it, and move on.  Instead I pushed myself way too hard.  I got horribly stuck while working on my chapters.  This made it worse.  I was stuck and I was a failure.

At this point my partner intervened and made me take a break.  I got some mild exercise and read my book.  I didn’t write for the rest of the day, and that’s probably for the best.

Keep Moving

I slowed down even more when a recent blog post that I wrote was kind of a dud.

Again, this is a bump in the road in the bigger picture.  Blogging is so ephemeral that if you write a crappy post, you just have to keep writing.  Before long you bounce back.

No problem there, but when I tried to write the next post, I got stuck again.  I thought too hard about the post’s topic, which is a big mistake.  If you think too hard about writing about writing a post, then you lose momentum.

A week later, here I am writing this post, and in a way it feels as if I’m writing for the first time.

Jedi Mind Tricks

Both of these experiences affected my psyche in that I allowed failure to slow me down.  The submission rejection and lame blog post in and of themselves did not make me unproductive.  It was the way that I thought about them.

I didn’t recognize when to take a break and when to keep going.  And now that I’ve started back up again, I have to push through to find a shred of confidence and keep moving.

In the moment it feels as if these experiences shake our foundation.  But in the bigger picture they are almost forgettable.  We can learn from them, learn when to take a break and do something restorative and when to forge ahead.  That way when they happen again, we can stand stronger.

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2 thoughts on “Stop & Go Writing

  1. This post is one of the most honest about the writing life I’ve read so far. Been there on that road with you – perhaps not at the same time – but I’ve traveled it, too. I always tell myself that just living is a part of my job as a writer and that even my procrastination will bring something to the work when I get back to it. Hushing the noise of the outside arbitrary voices is a long process that I’m learning to perfect. The only critic I need to please is me. Thanks for sharing such an honest portrayal of the angst of the author.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. As a writer I’ve had a lot of dips, and they still catch me off guard. The road is never a smooth one, and I have to have faith that I’ll bounce back from it.

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