Sometimes it’s hard to admit that the best of us burn out.
– Adama, Battlestar Galactica
It’s only in the last few days that I’ve started writing again.
Sometime over the last few months I burned out. Whether because of day job stress or something else, I’m not sure. But it’s only now, after sobbing my eyes out over a particularly dramatic BSG episode, that I’ve started thinking about it.
The truth is I’m afraid to fail.
I start writing and immediately my mind thinks: let’s set targets, goals, deadlines. Let’s measure our progress.
I write two consecutive #fridayflash? My mind decides I should write one EVERY week. I try to rationalise: how about every other week? How about twice a month overall?
You can cheat the system for a little while, but soon the lack of progress wears thin.
For my current WIP, I decided I’d write 60k in six months. I set up a fancy excel to track my progress and expected completion date. I told my friends, who also began to check in on me.
When the words failed, I started copy pasting large chunks from my scribbled notes into the main document, just to make up the numbers. To trick myself into thinking I was being productive.
I want to be a successful author. So many people know of my ambitions that the pressure of their expectations weighs on me. My friends tell me: “So just write. You can do it.”
Yet I’m not writing.
I look at what I’ve produced over the last few years and think: that’s it? One novel. Some short stories. A series of abandoned ideas and a lack of commitment to anything else.
Eventually I tell the emo voice in my head to get lost and set more goals. It only works for so long.
But maybe now I’m at a turning point.
I haven’t failed if I don’t finish the novel by September. I haven’t failed if I don’t apply to agents by end of next year. I haven’t failed if the next book isn’t as well-written as I want it to be. I haven’t failed if I’m not selling short stories to magazines.
I haven’t failed if I never become a famous author.
What matters is that I love writing. What matters is that I’m writing for me.
Even the best of us burn out.
I’m not afraid anymore.