Writing is a Marathon, Not a Race

Writing fatigue.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, no, here she goes again!’ Well, yes and no. I have been writing a lot on this subject because that’s where I’ve been living for the last little while. And though it might not make for the most interesting subject to blog about, I suspect that, somewhere in cyber-space, other writers are suffering the same thing. Some may be even a little shy to be open about it because, well, let’s be honest we know writing is hard work. How often do you come across those memes or quotes that say ‘Never give up!’ or that ‘Keep your eye on the prize!’ or ‘Victory comes to those who stick it out!’

Blah.

Blah.

Friggin’ blah.

The thing is, despite my sarcasm, I believe them. Succeeding in any venture, whether it’s business, art, our 9-5 jobs, or anything we want to do well, requires time, effort and sacrifice. But what I’m also learning–the hard way, is that as much as there are moments to strive, there are moments when we have to rest.

Rest? How can that be productive? We live in a Go!Go!Go! world. Didn’t you hear that rest is for the weak? Don’t sleep! Work, work, work! That’s the method to the madness I have been following for the last few years and though it has produced some great results, it burned me out.

I felt it coming around August. For more than three years, I worked on building this writing…career I’ll call it, since that’s what I hope it will become. From past posts, some of you know the route I took to get here, but for those who don’t, it included writing groups, critique groups, finding a writing partner, trial and error writing—which included receiving plenty of lambasting–learning how to build a writing platform, social networking—you get the picture. It’s a ton of work to do when you have a regular job, and a family, who often doesn’t get to see much of me when I’m ‘in the zone.’

But over the summer, something cool happened. I started blogging. The first one on Blogger did alight, but when I moved to WordPress—wow! Things really expanded and, suddenly, in addition to writing I had this other passion to nurture. It was great. I got sucked in. I went willingly, happily, but—

I was already drained by then. And it only got worse.

I’m a goal-oriented person; I’m at my best when I have a challenge to crush. That’s just who I am. Probably the pressure to ‘make it’ was fuelled by anxiety—I couldn’t rest. I had to keep getting better, I had to keep producing. If I wanted to make it—thereby ensuring that the sacrifices I’d made didn’t go to waste–then I had to keep pushing. What’s that expression? ‘Sleep when you’re dead?’

Almost. Or that’s sorta how it felt at times.

I threw myself into writing, tortured myself by reading other people’s work that was better than mine and, out of a sense of inferiority, set out to create something I thought was just as good. I read business articles and platform-building post after post so I could beat myself up over all the things I wasn’t doing. I literally could not, and would not rest.

It was insane. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been through this.

The kicker came the day I asked a friend for a prompt. I was so tired but I hadn’t written anything for a few days. Despite the fatigue, that story was one of my best up to that point. Yay! Then I tackled another challenge, one which led to the writing of Mad Mac. I remember sitting that night with the laptop on my lap thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’ But somehow I did. It felt like pushing past the Wall in running—I was (mentally) exhausted but something else took over and pushed me past my normal limits to finish the job. But something ‘crashed’ inside me that night.

Image from wonderingfair.com

Image from wonderingfair.com

For a long time afterwards, just the thought of writing made me feel tired; a heaviness fell over my hands and a fog clouded my mind. My brain just said, ‘No.’ Despite the need to write, I instead turned to drawing, blogging, focussing on marketing my book—anything except serious writing. At first, I was nervous. How long would this last? What if I’m blocked for good? But as much as I was concerned, I decided to let it go. I felt free for the first time in a long time. Despite not writing anything creatively while fighting the words, ‘A writer has to write every day!’ I managed to say, ‘Screw that. Not today.’

I’m past all that now. A few things have changed. Primarily, I managed to find myself again. Probably, if you reread some of my recent posts you’ll notice a trend—the drive to succeed led to a disconnect with myself and why I love to write in the first place. I don’t read my G+ threads anymore, nor do I read writing ‘how to’ posts or other people’s writing (except books). Perhaps I’ll go back to that stuff in the future, but right now, the peace and quiet is sublime. I also found a few books with which to relax my mind and to feed my creative self. One of them inspired me directly to get back to writing. The day after I finished it, I picked up my current, unfinished manuscript and got to work.

I think the point of this post is to say that it’s okay to admit you’re tired–and maybe spinning out of control. And that it’s okay to stop. To take a break to find your centre; it will come back to you. The world doesn’t stop spinning, it never rests, but sometimes we have to.

 So, what about you? Anyone else have thoughts to share on this subject? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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About Dyane

Dyane Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. Writing has been a life-long passion and she writes all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction and poetry. Dyane writes to communicate, meaning that writing becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with people on a level deeper than intellect.
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20 Responses to Writing is a Marathon, Not a Race

  1. Joshua says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Definitely need to sit back and recharge at times.

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      lol Yeah, sometimes you have to crash and burn to realize it. Or maybe it’s just idiots like me, lol Thx for reading Joshua. 🙂

      Like

      • Joshua says:

        So long as you realized it, then you can fix it. It’s easy to get caught up everything and do stuff that feels like it’s related to writing. I find myself at times saying ‘well, this is a long process, if I skip a day, it won’t be that big of a deal.’ Those skipped days add up as well.

        Like

      • Dyane says:

        Yeah, you’re right. Finding balance is the struggle we all seem to face: over-doing it or not doing enough. 🙂

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  2. Have you seen those ultra races that go up to 100 miles, some of them in the desert? They have break stations where people can actually stop and eat, rest, shower, change clothes, and they hire people to run with you for a few miles at a time to keep you going.

    Writing a novel is definitely an ultra!

    Like

  3. Nicki says:

    Great post Dyane! I’m no where near where you are in terms of writing, but I go through times where it’s all I can think about and it’s all I want to do, and then there are “those” times, like you described. This post is wonderful because it helps reassure me that I am slowly getting to where I want to be, despite those feelings of being stuck or tired. Thank you!

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      You’re welcome, Nicki. 🙂 If anything I shared in the post was something you related to and could benefit from, then the experience was worth it. It’s easy to feel alone as a writer; not everyone understands this passion and mania that accompanies it, or the big, big dips into fatigue or even discouragement. 🙂

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  4. I love blogging with my best friend because we tend to go in opposite cycles. It is nice to know it is OK to enjoy the stillness =)

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  5. Great post, Dyane, and I admire your honesty. Although you might not see it this way, to me, it looks like you’ve a lot of determination.The fact that you’re still writing – and kept writing your blog – shows how committed you are to this process. Everyone recharges their batteries at some point or other – especially if you’re in this writing thing for the long haul. PS Your comment about WordPress intrigued me…I’m going to look into it.

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    • Dyane says:

      Thanks Teagan. 🙂 When you get wrapped up in writing and all that it’s not always easy to see the fatigue coming or have the ability to put the brakes in to stop it. But things are better now. 🙂

      Yes, I noticed a major jump in activity (views, followers) when I moved to WP. Not sure if it’s like that for everyone, but I’m enjoying the experience since I made the switch.

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  6. Katie Cross says:

    I often find that when I ‘just can’t figure out what to write’ or sit at the computer with drool dripping into my lap and no movement from my hands, that it’s just time for a break. And if I feel stressed about writing, then I’m not ready to go back to writing. So I force myself, and yes I have to force myself, to relax back and take it easy, doing nothing about writing, until the mood passes and I can lighten up.

    Writing burnout= so real.

    Like

  7. Zee says:

    That sounds like a really healthy place to be in. Well done on realising your needs and doing something about them.

    Like

  8. Writing is a passion and though hard work it should be enjoyable. If you dread the thought of sitting down to write and it becomes a chore, then it is time to walk away and take a break. Great post, honest and full of humour.

    Like

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