You’ve heard of this before. LTC Grossman mentions it in the groundbreaking books On Killing and On Combat. He states flat out that you can go back to the well as much as you need to but if you don’t take care of yourself, when you need it, the well will be dry. You’ll have nothing to pull from when the poo and the fan have made babies and your in a bad spot. It’s critical for our soldiers to get enough rest, to eat well and stay hydrated.
Spiritual fitness comes into this as well and that means taking a break from it all and being able to reset and recharge. R&R from Iraq is mandatory for ALL personnel, including the generals who make major decisions on US operations around the globe. It needs to be. For we as soldiers have a tendency to keep going until we collapse, crash for a few then get back up and get back after it. If R&R was not mandatory, you’d see people willingly staying in theater for the entire year, working themselves to exhaustion every night. Eventually, they would break.
While the seriousness of the situation is not the same for me as writer, I’m feeling the effects right now of not wanting to write. Not even not wanting to. Can’t. Have tried. I’m completely and utterly sucked dry right now. I’ve got 3 books half written, well over the 60K mark. I’m trying to edit a fourth. And I have nothing left to pull from. I haven’t really written in days now. DAYS. The only time this year that I haven’t written was when I was on R&R or otherwise completely overcome by the day job.
Right now, I’ve got nothing. I’m wrung out. And I’m not even published yet.
I have to refill my well. I don’t know how much time it will take for that to happen. I don’t know how long the funk will last. But I’m reading. I’m thinking about the projects I need to finish so that they’re at least ready for when my agent asks for them. But I’m not writing. I’m exercising. Part of the problem is that I’ve been either sick or hurt for the last three weeks. It’s very frustrating for me. I spent half a week on pain meds and actually ended up laid up in bed (trust me: that NEVER happens, until it does). I still wrote then.
But now, I’m simply exercising and reading. I’m lifting weights and doing cardio. I’m not taking breaks from working out b/c I’ve been on a break and my body and my mind were suffering for it. I’m reading everything. I’m reading Roxanne St Claire b/c she’s a master at sexual tension and suspense. I’m reading Allison Brennan because I love her style. I’m reading Laura Kinsale because her emotional hits are the best out there. I’m reading Sherry Thomas and Laura Griffin. I’m going through about a book a day because all I’m doing is reading. I’m taking notes and marking pages where I can learn.
But mostly, I’m simply reading for enjoyment. Since 2007, I’ve written almost every day. When it was hard, my writing goal was 1000 words a day. Now, I shoot for 2000 because I know I can do it and because I have to do it. Since 2007, I’ve written 6 books, and that does not include complete rewrites of 3 or the 3 that I’ve started and put on the back burner.
All while being unpublished. I wrote and rewrote and crammed as much learning as I possibly could into every minute I had to myself because I want to be published. I want to write for a living. I want this and I want this badly so that in 8 years, I can join the ranks of the full time writers.
It’s worth the sacrifice but I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I need to take breaks.
Sometimes, I need to curl up on the couch and just watch a movie. Sometimes, I need to get a good nights sleep and go for a walk without trying to figure out my next plot points.
Sometimes, I just need to refill the well before it runs completely dry.