I am between projects. I am miserable.
My newest novel, Living All Day, is done. The beta readers are reading it now. You’d think this would make me happy. It does.
It also makes me grumpy.
I wrote this novel by squeezing writing into a very full life. Both my kids are at important turning points and being a good mom to them takes a ton of time and energy. I finished this novel around their schedules. I also put in extra hours at my volunteer job. I kept up with my book reviews. I taught a workshop for beginning writers. I cared for my house. I cared for my yard. What I didn’t care for was myself. Exercise, reading, television, and pretty much anything fun was shoved aside for the sake of the novel.
Anyone who saw me during this period saw a busy woman with a huge smile on her face. I was happy because I was writing. I succeeded in doing it all and the book came together wonderfully. I decided that once Living All Day was put to bed, I’d take a week off, relax and have fun, go for walks, recharge my batteries, maybe see that movie that everyone’s talking about.
Now that I have the time to do these things, I find that I no longer want to do them. The air has gone out of them somehow. Books aren’t very interesting. Television all seems the same. And it’s too cold and dark to go outside.
But I should be doing these things. Writers call it “filling the well.” We can’t expect constant output with no input. I should be going to museums and coloring and seeing movies and people-watching in coffee shops and browsing in bookstores and having long chatty coffee dates with my friends.
Instead, I’m looking at stupid memes on Facebook and taking a lot of naps.
This isn’t depression. This isn’t burnout. This is just a writer not writing. It’s just me not doing the one thing that makes me happiest. I’m still putting words on paper, playing around, but nothing is falling into place. I need to work up a new outline with my co-author. I need to decide what I’m going to do with the super-secret book I wrote last year. I need to gather the courage to start a short story that’s completely unmarketable but is tugging at my heart anyway.
I need to start writing again.
Next time I’m immersed in a book, I’m going to take time out for relaxing activities while I’m writing. I’m also going to make sure I have the next project lined up, and the next. I will go directly from one to the other, because it isn’t lack of time that makes me stressed, but lack of writing.
And that’s something I can easily fix.
About the author: Alex Kourvo writes short stories under her own name and near-future thrillers under the pen name M.H. Mead. She has the best beta readers in the world—and she can’t wait to hear from them.