Writing is sort of like being on a diet. Once you fall off the wagon, it's very hard to climb back on. I've been wading across the Slough of Despond for about six months now. I hope I reach the shore pretty soon.
There are a variety of reasons a writer can fall off the wagon. A bad review. A rejection. Bad health. Family emergencies. Financial distractions. I think I've had them all in the last few months. A friend asked me, "What can I do to help?"
And I'm just not quite sure.
I'm torn between needing someone to tell me I'm a good writer--and that same someone to firmly tell me what I'm doing wrong. It's a fine line we ask our critique partners and editors to walk. On the one hand we desperately need them to support us and build our confidence. On the other hand we need them to be brutally honest about those things we need to work on. It's a tough thankless job.
Family and friends are both a blessing and a...millstone. They stand on the outside cheering us on, believing in us, exhibiting their pride in our accomplishments. But when we're floundering, they have no frame of reference to understand exactly how bad things are. As one family member said to me, "Well, go write!" There's simply no concept of what it's like to sit in front of a computer and have a blank mind.
In the last two days I've written seven thousand words. I hesitate to save the file and leave the computer lest the words dry up and disappear. Could I bear the loss again? I don't know. I only know I need to create in order to be complete. Without the creation, I'm a partial person.
There are all sorts of exercises a writer can try to get their "mojo" back. Go for a walk. Read a book...or two or three. Make some cookies. Take a nap. Take a bath. Go for a drive. Go on vacation. Spend time with other writers. Have a life changing experience. Take a sabbatical. Yep. Tried them all.
Eventually, you just have to tough it out. Sit down in front of that computer and twiddle the keys. When there are no more ways to postpone writing, then you simply have to do it. Perhaps I finally reached that place. Perhaps not. But for two days, I returned to that place, that wonderful place where words flowed and characters blossomed. If I'm very blessed, I'll find that place again tomorrow.