I’m burned out.
It’s taken me a while to truly understand and acknowledge that, but there’s no ignoring it now. I’m burned out and have been for about a year now.
I’m feeling the same way I did when I took about a two year break from writing a while back. And you know what? Those two years were some of the best of my life. I don’t regret taking a break from writing because I needed it. I had to recharge. I needed to live my life so that I could come back and put those experiences down on the page.
At the moment, I don’t have the luxury of completely cutting out writing like I did back then. There are contracts and promises I have to fulfill first, but it’s past time that I started taking a few things off my extremely full plate.
Another thing it comes down to is this: I don’t currently have any content I want to share on Wattpad.
That’s not to say I don’t have ideas. Believe me, there are so many things I want to write, so many ideas I want to pursue. But at this point, the pressure I put on myself to post new stories and chapters as often as possible has contributed to the way I’m currently feeling.
So I’m taking a break from Wattpad and using that time to focus on and remember why I enjoy writing in the first place, without the added pressure of being expected to update regularly. Because right now, writing feels like some terrible obligation that fills me with dread instead of excitement. I don’t like that.
All of that said, these are the steps I’m going to take to help get myself back on track.
- I will no longer be posting stories online before they’re complete. I’ve been writing online for over a decade, following the model of writing a chapter, quickly editing it, and then posting it. But that needs to change for a variety of reasons:
- I’m tired of certain readers thinking they have a say in what I write. They don’t. You don’t. My work is my own, and while constructive criticism and feedback is welcome, aggressively telling me what to write and how to write it is not. I’ve been dealing with this for a while, but in the past year it’s been truly awful. I’ve been harassed into making decisions that I never would have for my stories, just so I could have some peace. I’m pretty tired of it, and it’s made me feel like I have no ownership of my stories and my characters.
- It makes editing difficult. If you decide there’s a new detail you want to add to an earlier chapter that primes for something later on in the story, it’s hard to do without taking down the entire thing. I’d rather be able to go back and change things without the hassle of taking the entire story down, or reminding readers to refresh their libraries and go back and reread the changes.
- I like being able to provide consistent updates. I want everyone to understand how much it pains me when months or even years go by without me managing to post a new chapter. I know it sucks for readers, but it also sucks for the person writing that story, too. By having the full story already written, it’s a lot easier to stick to a schedule and not be stressed about it.
- I’m going to reduce how often I check my messages and inboxes. As much as I love and appreciate the feedback and kindness so many people show me, there are always those people who have nothing but negative things to say and seem to think I want to hear it. I never know what I’m going to get when I open my inbox on various sites, so the best thing to do is just… not open them. I can’t constantly take everything in because it puts my mental health at risk. Now, I still believe that everyone who takes the time out of their day to send me words of encouragement or just a simple “I like your work!” deserves a reply. And I’ll still reply, I promise—it’s just going to take me a little longer.
- At some point, I’m taking a month long break and not writing a single word. (Blogging doesn’t count though!) This might be a hard one to do, but I’m going to try my best. Sometimes you have to completely stop writing to remember why you like it so much. Is it hard to get back into it afterwards? Oh heck yeah, it can be. But I’d rather take my chances and give myself an actual break than keep plowing through it all.
- When I return from that break, I’m only going to focus on the stories and ideas that bring me joy. I’ve declared that 2019 is going to be the year of joy for me, because I’ve spent too long being a Sad B*tch. So I’m only going to work on projects I’m passionate about. Yes, passion waxes and wanes, but if you believe in a project, that’s what gets you through the hard bits.
I’m not completely disappearing, I’m just reducing how much I’m going to be around and how much I share. Y’all can’t get rid of me that easily! So this isn’t the end of me or my writing completely. Just consider it the start of a new era.