March has not been a great month for me writing-wise. I have done a great job of keeping up this blog, and even making some headway on April’s content (I have some interviews coming up that I hope you’ll really enjoy!), but when it came to creative writing … progress was lacking.
As I write this (well before the end of the month, so who knows what will happen between now and the time this goes live!), I have completed the new first chapter for Uprooted and started the second. And that’s it. Compared to the 70k I wrote last month, this feels appallingly slack. It took me a while to realise why I wasn’t making progress. I was constantly tired, waking often during the night and having trouble turning off my brain to sleep. My attention span for longer writing was severely lacking. I had chances to write or read, but instead I was unable to make myself do either. Finally, I worked it out. I was afraid.
I’m on the brink of some very big changes. I’m second guessing my decision to move back to New Zealand this year. I learned that some of my favourite colleagues are being transferred at the end of the month and have no idea what my teaching environment will be like from April. I’m less worried about the housemate situation, even though that will also mean big changes. On the other hand, the closer I get to leaving on WWOOFing, the more I worry about everything I have to prepare for it. I am, in short, a born worrier. Uncertainty makes me anxious. And anxiety and writing is a fatal combination.
I’m far from the only writer to face fear induced writer’s block! In fact, while I was drafting this post, an e-mail popped up in my inbox titled: Has Fear and Overwhelm Got You Stuck? Let’s Fix That. Monica Leonelle’s Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day starts by examining the factors that contribute to writing stultification. She advises you to identify the areas in your life that are causing you stress and getting them in order before you start to write. Steven Pressfield shares how confronting his worst fear directly actually had a freeing effect in his book Turning Pro. Joanna Penn is working on a book all about author mindset that I expect will cover this same theme. Unfortunately for me, right now all I can do is wait and see. So I gave myself permission not to write.
And — as pretty much always happens when I decide I’m not going to write — writing happened. I have outlined two new stories, one a purely for fun murder mystery, the other which will remain secret for now, and have written 1000 words of the secret one. It will hopefully be short and I think it would be nice to work on something small and quickly completed before jumping right back into a novel length project.
I’m really lucky in that I have three in real life friends I can vent at about writing related woes, as well as share my concerns about my school situation. Another life-saver this month has been the wonderful Sera Trevor, who is incredibly easy to talk to about anything writing related and amazingly supportive and encouraging! I’ve also been encouraged by messages from other authors, whether in the M/M writers thread, e-mails or facebook messages — I feel incredibly lucky knowing that I wasn’t alone. I’m going to try to be better about reaching out to support and encourage those around me in April, because I’ve been so strongly reminded that even a quick comment, review or e-mail can mean a lot to the person on the receiving end.