Last week, I wrote 9,660 words in three days.
The kicker is that it’s the beginning of a completely new story I hadn’t planned or thought about. Normally, I contemplate the details of a story – what kind of characters, what twist, what setting, and those sorts of things – because you know, I’m practical like that at times. Honestly, I think so hard about a story sometimes for several weeks, even months, before I start writing.
You’d think if I take that long to brainstorm, I basically have the whole thing written before I ever really write a word.
It takes me a while to consider how to just begin a story, whether it’s a short story or novel. The main reason for this issue is that I never know the ending. When I sit down to write, I never know how it’ll end. That’s something I figure out along the way. Usually it works out – I figure it out pretty quickly once I flesh out a few scenes from the beginning.
Other times, I have to wait for inspiration to hit, which is never consistent or expected.
Last week was different.
When I sat down to write the first few words of that new story, I already had a solid idea of what the ending would look like.
More than that, I had a firm grasp on everything in between as well – this NEVER happens to me. I couldn’t plot out the details fast enough.
The story came to me basically out of nowhere. I was actually inspired by a random building I walked into, but the story itself came to me very naturally, as though I was retelling something that happened to me personally, even though it didn’t.
The words just flowed like they weren’t my own but the characters’. I had this out-of-body experience that I can’t really explain. It was like I floated out of my body and watched a version of myself hunched over in her chair at the desk in the dim lighting, typing nonstop for a while
So of course, I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out why this happened and how I can bottle up this experience to use in the future when I’m feeling stuck. Is it simply because that building I walked into had magical powers? Is the muse actually a fickle asshole and out to get me?
Or is there a logical explanation?
I’m not ruling out the fickle muse, but for this instance, I was convinced there was a logical explanation.
As you know, I’m pretty logical (most of the time). I got to thinking about what was different last week – did I eat or drink something new, change my workout somehow, etc. I considered my routine and physical writing space and weather. I even considered it if it was that I started parting my hair differently (which didn’t turn out to make a difference, though).
I considered all the variables, and at first, I thought the words were more difficult to produce because of all the noise around me, as I mentioned before. Being in this new city has me out of whack, so I thought this could be a reasonable explanation – that I’m finally adjusting.
Although I’m convinced this is part of it, it’s not the whole story.
Because when it came to the project I started in December, the words weren’t just appearing on the screen. This is the follow up standalone novel to the main one I keep talking about, the one I’d been working on since 2017 (which is finished now, YAY). The thing is, I’ve been writing in the same world with the same characters for a little over a year now, straying only briefly here and there to write (the beginnings to) other stories.
For the majority of the time, I’ve worked on the same characters in the same world for over a year now, and I started to get a little burned out. I was just tired of writing in the same storyline, even though I’ve been writing about different characters.
This is not because I’m not excited over those stories or believe in them, but simply because I needed something fresh to keep me creative and motivated.
I needed a creative break.
Without thinking too much, without pressure or concern, I sat down and the words poured out of me for this random story last week. I’ve written that many words in such a short time before, and sure, it’s not writing gold or anything, but I’m super excited about this idea.
I think I was able to write so much and plot it out in great detail because I gave myself a break from the other series I’d been working so hard on refining, editing, plotting, etc.
Last week, I allowed myself to just freely write, and the rest fell into place.
It was fun and exciting and refreshing to start a new journey, not that I’m abandoning the others. On the contrary, I’m ready to dive back in and go back to my other project (which is at ~45k words currently) better with a clear mind and re-energized soul.
And that’s what happened.
I made a breakthrough in my original project that I started in December and wrote 4,000 words the last couple of days, no problem. It was all coming together so quickly and easily, which was a relief and even more motivating in itself. It’s so much more encouraging to sit down now with a clearer mindset and focus.
This goes to show how badly we need to give ourselves a break and nurture our creativity. Nurture our minds for our overall well-being by doing other things we love, or the same things but from different angles.
Confused by the last statement? Never fear….
My happy place is writing, but when writing one thing becomes too monotonous and tiresome, I write something else.
I haven’t been allowing myself the luxury of writing outside my goals lately. I’ve been so focused on finishing and polishing the first book of the series and plotting the next two, that I haven’t thought about much else. Which is another reason for my burnout.
But after seeing how much of a positive effect this last week had on me and my mental health, I’m definitely going to start making it more of a priority to work on other projects and write freely more often.
And you should, too. Be brave enough to give yourself some flexibility with your goals. You’re not abandoning them by taking breaks or practicing self-care. On the contrary, you’re making it easier for yourself to reach those dreams.
Inspiration might be fickle and it might hit me when I least expect it, but giving myself a break has worked in allowing me to be productive and creatively healthy in the long run.
So take a creative break to allow for peace and growth. The muse will thank you, and the wonders of inspiration might become less muddled, opening the flood gates for ideas, words, and happiness.