No, this is not me, but when the author, Linzé Brandon, approached me with this blog, I thought it was so apt and encouraging, that I had to use it. I am certain there are many of us who had felt at one stage we are going to stop writing. We all have our different reasons, and we all might motivate ourselves differently, but I hope Linzé's message will encourage you.
Before I dig into my less than illustrious choice to stop writing, indulge me for a few moments to provide you with some background. I wrote my first novel in 1999. I wrote a few more and then gathered the courage to submit one manuscript to a publisher. Of course, it was rejected, but there was an encouraging letter with it. A letter to encourage me to keep writing. I did.
In 2011, I did a highly recommended creative writing course where I only got positive feedback. By this time erotica (the reason the publisher rejected the manuscript) was more widely read, and I decided to do another course specifically aimed to write the “difficult” sex scenes. To be honest, these scenes were never difficult to me, but I did feel that I could improve the way I was writing them.
By 2012, independent or self-publishing was gaining ground and I decided to publish my first book, Géra's Gift, a fantasy romance novel for adults.
In 2020 I published my 25th book. I also had the 26th professionally edited, although it is not yet published. And here is where this article arrives into the present - in July 2020 I decided to stop writing. I have not even opened the 26th manuscript's feedback from the editor. It is still floating in my inbox somewhere.
Why did I make this rather radical decision?
The answer is both complicated and simple at the same time. Let's start with the obvious reasons: it requires many hours to write a novel. Then more hours to edit, re-edit, and then have it professionally edited, then fixing the edits before it can be proofread and prepared for publication. Since I design my own covers, this too will require more time. The simple answer is therefor that I felt that I could employ my time much better.
The second reason is based on a choice I made. I decided to focus my time on developing my artistic skills instead of writing. Since 2018 I have done several drawing and painting classes, which I also paid for, making art the one activity that provides me with the most satisfaction. Even on a difficult day, I can pick up a pencil and play in my art journal and still gain some benefit from the experience. This has never been the case when I was exclusively focused on writing.
I am the kind of person that loves a challenge, and yet I did not complete the 12 Short Stories (www.deadlinesforwriters.com). At the same time, I did one drawing every week, for 52 weeks for the inktober52 challenge (www.inktober.com).
The NaNoWriMo writing challenge is also something that I have done multiple times. Several first drafts of my published books resulted from taking part in both Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo for 9 years. So when November 2020 rolled around, I felt pressured to do my tenth NaNoWriMo. I got my laurels, but I hated every day and almost every word I wrote.
But only the month before, I drew 31 drawings in 31 days for the original Inktober challenge. Some prompts were particularly hard for me, and some days I really had a hard time to get the drawing done on time.
Between a challenging October, and a miserable November, I would take the drawing challenge any time, even though the time commitment is more challenging. I can write 1667 words in two hours, but some drawings took up to 6 hours to complete. Since you are reading this post right now, you are probably wondering what changed my mind, or if I did indeed changed my mind about writing. To be honest, I do not have a definitive answer.
A new approach for 2021
After some reflection at the end of 2020, I decided to remove the pressure I put on myself. I have enrolled in the 12 Short Stories challenge again, but I am not going to chase words just for the sake of achieving some kind of elusive goal.
The real reason I had decided to stop writing: the pressure to write a certain number of words in a year. It took away a lot of the satisfaction I had gained over the years. I became focused on the end result, and not the process of writing.
An important lesson I learned when contemplating why I loved creating art, instead of writing a story. I can lose myself for hours creating a drawing or a painting, without putting any pressure on myself because I was just enjoying the process.
The practical way to live a creative life
For the Short Story writing challenge, I decided to give myself 24 hours after the monthly prompt is released to come up with an idea for the story. If I did not, I was not going to bother with the prompt of that month. The prompt for January took a few hours, but the idea was born and now I am planning my time to include writing a few hours every week. Take note, not every day, because my commitment to my art has not changed at all.
I have also set an intention to write two blog posts every week for my blog. Since my blog is focused on the creative life, I also promote other authors and their books, but I have not done many posts on my own creative process in the last year.
Am I going to write a novel in 2021? Right now, the answer is no, but I have decided to take it slow and to honour my word for 2021 - consistency. I plan to accomplish it through my blog, the 12 Short Stories writing challenge, teaching a weekly online art class, playing with my art journal, and doing an ink sketch every week for Inktober.
You can follow my #CreativeLife:
Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LinzeBrandon
Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/linzebrandon/