I haven’t been writing much lately. Not blog posts, not short fiction, not novels. Nothing. And I’ve been beating myself up over it pretty much any time I think about it. I’ve been feeling isolated not just from the process of writing but from the community of writers and the entire concept of being a writer. It really hit me the hardest when I saw a several submission calls come across my social media and I didn’t even bother to read them. Because I don’t have the energy or drive for it.
I don’t like it.
But mostly what I’m finding I don’t like is that I don’t like the guilt.
It’s self-imposed. I know this. I know my value as a human being isn’t measured by what I write or how often I write. I am an author. But it isn’t all that I am, and I need to be better at recognizing that.
We’re all “going through some shit.” We’re all processing some degree of trauma. Environmental collapse. A national slide into fascism. The eroding of our individual rights. A rise of hatred against women, members of the LGBTQA+ community, people of color. Inaction and indifference to a pandemic that hasn’t gone anywhere and new pandemics ramping up around the corner.
This is a frightning time to be alive. Burnout is very, very real.
I am a strong believer that the most important thing we can do is to look after ourselves, our physical and mental health, our support networks. You have to put your own breathing mask on first, people. But, still the guilt that I’m not getting any writing done. I’ve gone so far as to question if I’m done. If I’m just not a writer any more. If I stopped writing tomorrow, would anyone notice? Would anyone care? And I’ve wanted to just quit. To give up. More times than I’d care to admit.
I haven’t allowed myself the same kindness I seek to extend to others. I haven’t allowed myself to simply BE.
Today is the final day in July, 2022. As of now, I’m on vacation from writing. I will not feel guilty about it. I am giving myself a year off. I do not plan to do any writing until August of 2023. No drafts will be opened or started. I am allowing myself the luxury to noodle around in notebooks, or to drop ideas in a dump document in that time. But no actual writing.
I’m not even allowing myself pre-writing until June 2023. No outlines. No plotting. No fleshed out scene-work.
I am on vacation. I am giving myself permission to rest, to recover, to just survive.
I am looking forward to a year of reading, doing things around the house, gardening. I am going to take the time to enjoy and appreciate the things in my life that keep me going without thinking, “You really should get back to the novel.” Or “Maybe you should look for open submissions to write for.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a cat that needs attention, and a book I want to get back to reading while it’s still quiet in the house.