I am so grateful to have found some of the most amazing people in this writing world and so lucky to be able to call them my friends and critique partners. As this year comes to a close, and a new year begins–and as I come close to finishing my manuscript at long last, I’d like to say a few words of intense thanks, gratitude, and love to Amanda and Janella for their undying support and friendship. Now, warning, this is going to be an incredibly long and sappy post, so yeah… just letting you know in advance!!!
I was struggling hard this summer. I am not exactly sure why or what caused this, but it felt like my fire had burned out. Motivation is generally not something I struggle with. The prospect of The End is usually enough to keep me going and going and going. So it really shook me when that motivation–that fire I usually feel–seemed to vanish.
I was no longer itching to work on my story but dreading it. So badly. I told myself it was because I was working on my second draft, which is the most strenuous and difficult part of the writing process for me. It happened with my other manuscript, so I figured it was just what it was. But then I got to the third draft. And yet, still, I felt this horrible dread, this horrible feeling of not wanting to write. Every word was a tooth being pulled, every day, I would make myself sit at my computer and try and write and then hate myself because I would write eek out all of a few words in what seemed like hours, feeling like I couldn’t focus. At last, I would go to bed, trying to get myself excited about my story, wondering why I wasn’t, and all the while getting more nervous, more desperate. I felt so, so unproductive during these months and it’s the worst feeling in the world.
People would ask my how my writing was going. I would tell them it was going slowly, that I was struggling with motivation. Many writers suggested burnout to be the culprit and to take a breather. But the thing is, it didn’t feel like burnout. I had been taking breaks. In fact, the lack of motivation had me not writing for quite a while. A month. Maybe two. Maybe even longer than that. Usually when I take breaks, my brain is still whirling, stilling thinking about my characters and plot, things that I need to work on, brainstorming, etc. Usually, I’m still excited. But this time I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking about my story at all, except for guilt that I wasn’t writing and confusion, anger, and frustration that I couldn’t seem to get my fire back.
In addition, I didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t feel like reading, I didn’t feel like watching any tv shows or movies, I didn’t feel like listening to any music, I didn’t feel like writing, I didn’t feel like anything. I felt blah and meh about everything–like I was in a giant everything slump.
(Now, I understand this sort of sounds like depression–but it wasn’t that. I swear 🙂 More like giant mental block of some sort. And another note: I’m not sure that it wasn’t burnout? It didn’t feel that way to me, but perhaps it was? I don’t know!)
Anyways, all of that just made me feel so much the worse because if it wasn’t burnout that was causing my lack of writing, then what could it possibly be? I had no idea and I started to grow desperate in my panic. I tried to figure out what was wrong, what the cause of my lack of motivation and excitement was and couldn’t, which drove me crazy because if I was certain that if I just knew what was causing this, I could fix it, right? I felt like something was fundamentally wrong and it drove me insane that I couldn’t figure it out.
I talked about in one of my posts that my greatest fear about writing is that I would stop. Not because it got too hard or because I wasn’t getting anywhere with it, but because I would lose my love for it. I have an obsessive, all-or-nothing personality and I’ve lost my love for things, people, activities, hobbies that I was once passionate about and that I thought would last forever. So when this happened, I started to panic thinking that I had lost my love of writing, of stories. I kept going anyway because, well, probably denial. I was like, NOPE NOPE NOPE. NOoooo way this could be.
After months of this, feeling listless and hopeless, I finally decided that enough was enough. I wrapped up my revisions on my third draft after some painfully long months and I sent it to my CPs, Janella and Amanda.
By this point, I sent my book to my friends convinced that my story was complete rubbish, broken and useless, and an utter failure. I was feeling pretty despair-y and hopeless. I kept thinking about what a mess my book was–especially the third act, and it truly felt like there was no end in sight. I was sure that this book would never, ever be close to even decent.
But when I got back notes, it revived me. I felt motivated again, excited again, determined again. I had a clear focus and I knew what I needed to do to make my story better and above all, I wanted to make my story better, I wanted to write again. Before sending it to my CPs, I knew that I still had a lot to work on. I knew some things weren’t working and that’s why for the longest time, I held off on sending my book to readers–because I knew what was wrong and I wanted to fix it before giving it to others. But ah, it turns out that I only had a vague idea of what was wrong and what to do about it. And here in lies the importance of critique partners: Janella and Amanda were able to give me specific notes and turn my attention to why something wasn’t working and really put into focus what aspects needed to be fixed. Up until this point, I had been writing and rewriting–er, basically the whole book because I knew things weren’t quite right. I was floundering by myself, trying to figure it all out. My CPs were able to give me specific things to work on and really pinpoint what was wrong. That specificity made such a difference for me. It gave me clarity. I no longer felt hopeless about my book because now I knew what to fix and how to fix it. It gave me purpose again and the sense things could be fixed. My book was not as broken as I’d believed it to be.
Unsurprisingly, after that, writing went soooooo much better.
As I near the end of my book, I feel I need to properly express my gratitude and thanks and love to these two who have supported me from the beginning. Who, by the way, also gave me so much support when I was struggling during these months. I could not have done this without you guys.
Janella, thank you for giving me so many wonderful suggestions and advice when I was going through my awful reading and writing slump. Thank you for taking the time to read my book when you were so busy and giving me such wonderful notes! Thank you for taking the time to give me invaluable advice when I needed it in regards to all things. Thank you for reading my query again and again! (QUERY QUEEN!!!! *high five emoji*) Your notes were amazing and the unwavering support and love you’ve given me has been so incredible. Thank you for being my friend and CP!
Thank you to Amanda, who read my book not once, but twice. And not only gave the most wonderful, thoughtful, thorough, detailed notes once, but twice, and made time for my book during an especially busy time in her life. I teared up several times and almost cried at work even when I got the most lovely messages from Amanda updating me on her reading progress. (Luckily, I was by myself and not with anyone, hahaha.) Amanda, I have no words to how thankful I am for your support and wisdom. Thank you for always giving me time and answering my bajillion questions (and also for solving a problem to which I had been angsting over for over a year!!!! WOWZA!!) Thank you for all your kind words and love for me and my book. I’m truly so grateful to have you as a friend and CP!
Wow, I just wrote like an entire Oscar speech, but this was something I really needed to say, so forgive me for how long and rambling and sappy this post is, hahah.
Amanda and Janella, I mean it, truly, from the bottom of my heart, that I could not have done this without you. You guys have helped and supported me in so many ways, so many times, more than you can ever know! Thank you so much for being there for me always. My book would not be what it is without you guys and I would still be feeling like an utter failure, hahah. I feel so much better, more confident, and know that my book is that much stronger because of the help you gave me. And most importantly, because of you guys and your words of encouragement, I felt excited about my story and writing again!! THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU GUYS, I LOVE YOU!!!! ❤