I feel a little like I’m in a 12-step program today. What’s that first step? Oh, yeah, admitting you have a problem. The second? Accepting it? Hmmm . . . I don’t know. Maybe this is a lousy analogy. I attribute it to that rust I mentioned in my last post (at least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it). Anyway, I got thinking about 12-step programs because they are supposed to be about self-exploration as a way to get to the root of a problem.
So what’s the problem I want to explore here? That’s an easy one. I didn’t have a great writing year in 2015. Not a single measure I track—words written, stories finished number of submissions, webpage posts, sales—shows I had a good year. Even the writing successes I did have (some sales, some good reviews) were the products of earlier efforts. I have to face it, 2015 was a dud of year in terms of my writing.
On the personal and professional front, a lot happened in 2015. At the start of the year, I had a parent who was sick and needed a lot of tough love—it’s hard telling a parent they can no longer take care of themselves. After that, I was essentially working two full-time jobs for while (especially during the middle of the year). Add to that a busy travel schedule for my day job, various family responsibilities, etc., and I found myself mentally drained.
All this contributed to a distinct lack of story ideas, or rather, a lack of story endings. I started a lot of stories, but they all seemed to stall. I seemed to have no endings, or at least I developed an inability to write the endings I had. After a while, it became easier to not try, then to do.
But you know what, writing fiction is hard; if it wasn’t, everyone would write a bestseller.
Yes, 2015 was a tough year, but in the end, I think I forgot my number one rule for writing: butt in chair and words on the screen. Writing isn’t glamorous and sometimes it isn’t fun, but if I want to reach my writing goal (writing and publishing), I need to put my butt in my chair and pound out stories—one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time. I know it will be tough for a while, and I know I can’t always write my way out of a story tangle, but if past experience is any predictor, it will get easier with time because I’ve found that the more I write, the more ideas I get and the easier it is to find and craft those endings.
So here’s to a better 2016. I’m already more confident that this year will be a better one for my writing.