*Picture is my own
Lately, my writing has made me feel, very simply put, overwhelmed. In April, I won Camp NaNoWriMo, which sucked a lot out of me, so I mostly took May off writing, with the exception of a few short stories and a tiny little bit of editing. But in June, I piled it all on again. I started the prequel to my Camp novel, with the goal to be 20-30,000 words in by the end of the month. I decided to participate in the Rooglewood Press competition and began outlining a novella, I decided to enter two essay competitions and I began research for both, I dreamed up a Sherlock Holmes retelling, I started a screenplay, and somewhere in all of that, I lost sight of what I really needed to be doing.
Towards the beginning of the year, I wrote out five goals which related to writing, which I wanted to achieve in 2017. I tried to keep them as simple as possible.
- Write four novels
- Write five new short stories
- Read a hundred books
- Edit two novels
- Enter four competitions
Those were my simple goals. I might not have achieved all of them by New Year’s Eve, but it gives me something to work towards. However, this month, I got so caught up in everything I wanted to do, that I lost sight of those five goals.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by everything I was trying to do at once, it wasn’t working for me. So, a few days ago, I got a pen and paper and I wrote a list. It was a list of all the projects I was trying to work on all at once. It was a long list, so I won’t bore you with it here.
I spent ages looking at that list, wondering what to do about it. Of course, if you’re overwhelmed, there’s only one thing you can do about it. Make things less overwhelming. I eventually prayed, and then began crossing things off my list. The prequel could wait till later, the screenplay could wait until later, Sherlock Holmes could wait till later, I would choose only one essay competition to enter, I wouldn’t enter the Rooglewood Press Competition, despite how much I liked my story idea.
Finally, I edited back my list to the things that were of absolute importance to me. That included editing my novel and novella—The Blade of the Dragon, and Kameradschaft, and finding some beta readers. All year, I’d been so wrapped up in a new book, a new series, a new this, a new that, that I’d left behind what really mattered to me, these two stories. I’d put off editing them in favour of writing new first drafts, and I’d suffered for that. Now I am going to concentrate my efforts on working on these two stories, stories that I’ve poured my heart and soul into for years now. I care about these stories; I want people to hear them. At the end of the day, I don’t care nearly as much about the Snow-White retelling, or the Sherlock Holmes retelling, or even about the prequel to my Camp novel, though Black & White I would consider one of my best works.
There’s a thing [look it up] called the irreducible minimum. The irreducible minimum is basically the one thing in life you CANNOT live without. For me in my writing life, the irreducible minimum was The Blade of the Dragon and Kameradschaft.
Anyway, the point of my ramble is this: if writing is overwhelming you, if it has become chore, if you sit down at your computer and agonise over which document to open, if you can’t post twice a week… sit down, write a list, pray over your list, find out what the irreducible minimum is in your writing life. Don’t be afraid to cut away some things, and simply because you prune it away for now, doesn’t mean you need to completely give up on it. I will probably return to my other projects at some time, I don’t know when, but I will.
If you allow writing to overwhelm you, you won’t enjoy it anymore, and if you don’t enjoy it, you will no longer be glorifying God. And if you are no longer glorifying God, there is no point to your stories.
Having said all that, I will now inform you that though it was my original plan to post on Tuesdays and Thursday, I will now only be posting on Thursdays… Maybe… We live in hope.
Congratulations for getting to the end of this post! Now it’s your turn. Has your writing ever overwhelmed you? How did you deal with it? Let me hear your thoughts. 😀