I gave up my freelance job in May for a summer of non-stop writing. Well, that was the intention. I’d polish the novel, land an agent, get a publisher and a modest advance so I could focus on book number 2.
I’d been looking forward to the opportunity for months. I was full of notes and inspiration. I had ideas for a 3rd novel and an outline for a story collection. But something went terribly wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I could not sit still long enough to write. I was incapable of producing new material. Just looking at the old stuff gave me migraines. Potential agent kept emailing to ask how things were going. I count my replies to her as the only work of fiction accomplished during those dark days.
Time marched on and my apprehension grew. I was sure I’d wake up one morning with that familiar fire in my belly. When it didn’t happen I went into meltdown.
I stopped forcing myself to sit at my desk. I even stopped doing normal things like combing my hair or getting dressed. I went to bed and stayed there. The world looked better from that angle. I was supposed to be knee-deep in this flurry of creativity, reveling in the freedom of dawn to midnight writing hours. Instead, I spent three months under a duvet clutching an unopened laptop.
You see, even though I’d planned my sabbatical, I hadn’t given much thought to how I’d deal with all that time. I have always written around something: family, job, chores, responsibilities. I was always fitting something in, squeezing, stealing bits of time here and there to write. Faced with the time equivalent of the Grand Canyon, I went from highly motivated to anxiety-ridden in nanoseconds.
Without a timetable or any experience in parceling out my days, they slipped from my hands and slithered away until it was too late. How do other writers manage their time when I couldn’t even talk myself out of bed? The realisation came too late. After I’d squandered precious months. After I blamed myself for not being a real writer or knowing how to handle a serious case of the blues. Ho hum. Cue sad writer looking wistfully at a tree outside her office window. If only I had the chance to do it again, i’d do it differently. I really would.
Oh, Shut up. You know very well you’d be back under the duvet, young lady.