Discouraged whining? Writers don’t do that, surely!?

I’m honestly not trying to have a pity party, here, but someday this might be worth something to someone who is in the same place I am.  And, hey, I’m an over-sharer.  So:

Feeling pretty low today.

Since the new school year began, I’ve been very tired.  My insomnia doesn’t help–the last three nights I’ve had to take something to get to sleep before 1am (I have to get up at 6am; if I go to sleep after 1 I’m going to be useless the next day, and I can’t be useless as a teacher).

I’m not sleepy, I’m just exhausted.  My brain barely feels like it’s functioning, and what little juice it gets I give to my work.  So when I get home, and the Bun is in bed, and I want to write… I can’t.  Words just don’t come.

On top of this, I’m suddenly terrified that I’m writing drivel.  Not “bad prose that can be fixed,” but “oh my god please dig my eyes out with a spoon”-level work.  It’s a constant thought this week, and that makes me freeze up even more.

I keep telling myself that multiple respected writers and editors said I had something worth reading, and one even used the exact words “You’re a good writer,” but right now it’s really hard to take those statements as truth, even though I know the people involved had no reason to lie to me.

Last night I put my daughter to bed, then I sat down with my computer and tried to write. I couldn’t.  I know what’s happening in that scene.  I know what comes next.  But I simply couldn’t marshal the mental fortitude to put words on the page.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not actually depressed.  I don’t seem to fit the pattern of actual depression, but I do have severe self-esteem issues (thanks, adopted family!); pair that with the natural cynicism my life has given me, and I am my own harshest critic.

So I fight back.  And that works… but I still can’t seem to get anything written.   But I’ll keep trying.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a third grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-three years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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2 Responses to Discouraged whining? Writers don’t do that, surely!?

  1. BT says:

    You do sound low, dear heart. Maybe talk to your PCP about a low-level anti-depressant and see how it goes? I resisted better living through chemistry for a long time but it did seem to help. Either way, I hope you keep putting butt-in-chair and the words come, because I’m dying to read this book!

  2. M.E. Garber says:

    Consider giving yourself a “writing vacation?” It works for me.

    When I can’t, for whatever reason–and only you can be sure it’s a “can’t” and not a “don’t want to” situation–get to the desk/chair/computer to write, or simply can’t focus on writing, I give myself a set amount of time off. A mini-vacation. Anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on what’s going on. I DON’T HAVE TO WRITE can be so liberating. Not only that, sometimes I don’t ALLOW myself to write during this time. It’s my vacation!!! And when it’s over, I put my butt back in the chair and get back into the flow of words. Every day. Just like your job after vacation. But now, I’m refreshed and happy–and I no longer feel guilty for NOT HAVING WRITTEN, you know?

    Maybe it’ll work for you. I hope so. Good luck, Michael. I’m rooting for you!

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