by Tessa Barding
Write about anything you’d care to write about, I was told. Sure, I said. Love to, I replied. Then went and sat before an empty document, watching the cursor gently blink.
Thing is, I’ve been unable to write for months. Why is that, you ask. And I say: I have no bloody idea. 2019 has seen one of my dreams come true: I wrote a novel. Which got published, publishing house and all. Pretty good, eh? I also survived my employer being swallowed by another company, kept my job and my paycheck. Not bad either, eh. Going swimmingly.
And yet, I ended 2019 with a burnout sort of thing. It wasn’t dramatic, no depression or weird ideas, just an overall fatigue that knocked me off my path for a couple of weeks. I eventually pulled through but the joy of writing has left me. I still catch a random idea here and there and quickly write it into my little notebook. Just, I can’t turn it into stories like I used to. It’s like my writing nerve got numbed along the way. Like writers’ block but different. A writers’ block leaves me wanting to write but not being able to, for whatever reason. Having my writing nerve numbed leaves me not giving a damn.
Which is worse? The pain, or the not caring? I’d say the latter because you remember something good but you can’t bring yourself to care about it any longer. And to me, that’s infinitely worse.
Why are you telling us that, you say. Life is depressing enough right now. We don’t need you to add to our misery. Go away, Tessa Barding.
Wait. Hear me out. Don’t swipe left just now.
See, we all go through dry patches. Sometimes it’s all so overwhelming, the good, the bad, the weird, the ugly, and it comes crashing down on you when you least expect it. For me, the secret to pulling through is letting shit happen. Stay positive, they say. Keep fighting. Don’t give up. But letting things happen doesn’t necessarily mean giving up. Sometimes it helps to step aside and watch it happen. What’s going on? What started it? How does it make you feel? What’s the lesson here?
And then, just before the massive Corona shutdown, I attended a writers’ conference, back when small events were still allowed to happen. I listened to published authors and literature agents and I spoke to people who write for fun and to some who write for a living. People who have to juggle writing and family and job. People who told me how they have to write down the stories the voices in their heads whisper to them. People who told me stuff like, ‘I had it all plotted out so nicely but then character D went and murdered character B without telling me about it and now I have to start over’.
And then, finally, after long last, the words started coming back to me. They’re not exactly flowing, not yet, it’s more of a trickle. But the trickle made me return to a fic that’s been sitting untouched for months. I’ve already added 2 chapters and am working on the next.
Just a dry patch, you see. Don’t give up. Let it happen – it’ll be gone soon.
(Please bear in mind that this is me, talking about myself. This is no professional advice. If you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed in any way, please do go and seek professional help. Please look after yourself!)