Friday, November 22, 2013

When You Don't Feel Like Writing

First of all, let me say that I do not subscribe to the school of thought that would address this problem with a simplistic, "You write anyway!" exclamation. Writing is not boot camp. Toughing it out may work sometimes, in certain situations. For instance, about a week ago because I'm doing NaNoWriMo I did force myself to write on a day when I felt really stuck, and I did break through the wall I was banging my head against, and so it really was worth it to endure the discomfort of that. But I'm not really talking about that sort of situation here.

What I'm talking about is an overall feeling of blah, I'd rather be <insert other hobby here> that I have sometimes. Generally, I find my writing happens in cycles, and may be tied to seasons. For the last few years, I've had writing frenzies, in which I must write or feel like I'm losing my marbles, mostly in March through May. And I've also always really wanted to do NaNo, ever since discovering it in 2006. I haven't been able to do it every year since then, but in the years that I didn't, I really missed it.

This is the first year that I can do it, I am doing it, and I'm really not into doing it.

I'm not sure why. The story is working. I'm pleased to be back in Veronica's world--in other words, she's not the problem. I can only chalk it up to how hard the summer was. I think I went through a minor depression, and I think I'm not really out of it completely. I've gone through a major depression in the past and this is not like that, but one thing the two do have in common is I have no desire to write.

Now, I have been under the impression in the past that not writing leads me to feel bad, and sends me in the direction of depression. So you'd think doing NaNo would help me get out of this minor depression, but it doesn't seem to be doing that.

Another possibility is that my writing has been taking a darker turn lately. The sequel to The City Darkens (as yet untitled, but technically Luka's Chosen, book 2), is kind of a study in how to write about violence without making it titillating. The fourth Veronica novel, which will probably be called The Cradle and the Grave, although I've been considering reversing the order, has a lot of really dark moments. Which I don't think is entirely out of the ordinary for the series, but I just got through writing some of the darkest scenes, and that's been draining.

Still another option has to do with how my writing happens in general. I go through periods when I don't want to write. Like usually in the summer, despite having more time to do it, I don't write a lot. Summer is for playing outdoors. I actually did try to write quite a bit this summer and eventually gave up as I went into my shell. So it could be that rather than dragging along the vestiges of my minor depression this not wanting to write is really happening because I'm just not in the mood, and I will be in the mood in a couple months. It wouldn't be the first time.
Because, kittens.

So I think when I hit 50K for NaNo I'm stopping for a while. If I do, I'll have two WiPs sitting around at 50K words. Which is uncomfortable. I can't help worrying about them. It's unlikely I'll abandon them so far in, but it does mean I'll have to reread them and scratch my head a bit when I pick them back up to continue with the story. So I don't know. Maybe I'll only take a few days off and then get back into one or the other.

How about you? Do you ever take breaks from writing or producing whatever art or craft you're passionate about? Do you think it's best to always force yourself to keep going?