I reached the ripping point last week. Literally and figuratively.
I started the week feeling excited and purposeful about the rewriting work I had ahead – killing darlings and adding a few new darlings. I inserted some new character perspectives – and had a great time writing them. One in particular is the antagonist in Wherever You Go and it turns out I love writing her. I ripped out words and sentences and even a few scenes.
And then I hit the wall. I felt a bit like this.
Like I had nothing left to write or say. Like all my words and ideas were being blown away on the wind. And even if I had any to share, I didn’t feel like it.
It had been a hectic week professionally. I was writing marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on one hand, and preparing for a retreat in Ireland on the other. By the weekend – when I have the most free time to write – I was exhausted.
At one point the house was empty for a few hours. Five people live there and four were out. Bonus, right! Writing time! Except I didn’t feel like it. I had no idea what to do with myself. I didn’t feel like doing anything much at all. Cleaning? Done that. Washing? On top of it. Cooking? Meh. Drawing. Meh. Talk to a friend? Who? I couldn’t even decide that.
I took myself to an op shop, which is usually fun for the bargain hunter in me. I wandered around … wondering why I was there.
I went home. Mixed up some no-knead bread dough. Prepared ingredients for an Indian feast I was cooking later in the day. Wrote a list of things to pack for the Irish retreat. Finished reading a novel. And then paced. I could not settle. Eventually, I watched a movie.
Sunday began with a drive to the Swan Valley to check out the flooding as a result of Perth’s second wettest day ever. I took the camera, took photos, stood on a bridge with torrents of water passing underneath, patted a pet dingo … We walked several kilometres, picnicked by the side of the floodplains, tasted wine and chatted to wine growers who’d been affected by the rain … it was wonderful.
And when I got home, I had time to write. Except … I didn’t want to. I couldn’t feel it. I tried. And then
Blue Eyes bore the brunt of it. I was ruining my book. Ruining it! It was a disaster. I was wasting my time.
I had no idea what to put in or take out of my manuscript.
I had reached my ripping point. And tipping point.
I’m not telling you this to get pity. I gave myself plenty on Sunday, so I’m all good. But I am telling you this so you know that all writers hit the wall occasionally (or often).
All writers struggle with words (when we procrastinate, it’s our fear talking). And sometimes, we are simply too overloaded by life to focus on what means so much to us.
Sometimes you have to take a break. Even if it’s just a short one. You need to refresh your mind, your spirit, your body. You will know when you need to. And even if you want to ignore those feelings, in the long run, it’s usually better to give your creativity some rehydrating love.
And then, when you’ve had that break, and created some space in your mind, you start again.