Coping with my own desire to always be in the midst of writing a totally awesome story
So, I haven’t completed a story since the 3rd of March (two whole weeks ago!) and that one was just a flash fiction. I haven’t completed a story that I really felt good about since February 14th (five weeks ago! An eternity!) What’s more, right now I don’t really feel like writing more stories. I don’t have any ideas for stories. Whenever I try to start a story I immediately feel so totally over it.
Luckily, I don’t really need to write new stories right now. I’m sitting on thirteen unrevised stories (the oldest of which date back to this time last year), which all need a few days of loving before they can be lobbed onto slush piles all across the country. I’ve been steadily working through this pile for a few months now, and I’m looking forward to cutting it down to zero (my to-be-revised pile hasn’t been at zero since the fall of 2009).
In fact, I often find that an unwillingness to work on new stories is a result of having too many stories in my to-be-revised pile. It’s hard to get excited about a new story when I know that there’s a good chance it’s not going to get submitted for six to twelve months.
The problem is that my back-brain doesn’t know this. My back-brain is loading me down with killer anxiety about not having produced a new story in awhile. Whenever I go even five weeks without writing a story that I feel good about, I start to wonder whether I’ve lost my mojo. I begin thinking that I might never write a good story ever again!
Usually, I combat this by dropping everything and doing my best to squeeze out a new story (which is how I ended up with thirteen unrevised stories in the first place). But not this time! This time the anxiety can just take a back seat! Until I feel like writing new stories again, I’m going to be content to just do a month or two of revision.
I’m trying to learn to trust my subconscious a little bit more. I think that my subconscious gives me stories at its own pace, and while there is some benefit to pushing myself, I think it also makes sense to listen to the messages I am trying to give myself. Ugh…but it’s not easy. I’ve been doing this for eight years, and I still have pretty much no idea how I’ve managed to write a single word.