Writing is funny thing. Not funny-lol, just funny peculiar. One day we’re flying high, the awesome in the proverbial sauce. The next we plummet to Earth with a big ol’ SPLAT. One day we’re burning the keyboard to charcoal hunk with the fierceness of our productivity, the next we’re staring at the blinking Cursor of Doom like a writer trying to figure out a math problem.
Good days, bad days. Up, down, up, down, up, do–
Jane! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!
Honestly. No wonder so many of our brilliant forebears hit the Absinthe a mite too enthusiastically. It’s exhausting, this writing gig.
Don’t get me wrong: I loves it, precious, and all that. I can’t not do it–to make the attempt is to implode from the need of getting the stories out, so they let me sleep at night, straight jacket and all.
But, yeah. Exhausting. Liberating pent up emotions is often that way. It was the same when I was a dramaturg (where all maladjusted misfits who can’t afford therapy end up). As soon as I keyed into what made a character tick I tended to drive off like Ferris with the Ferrari. I find myself pushing myself through to a breakthrough when I’m writing–beat up those characters until they can’t be beat no more, and then hit ’em again.
Search for the pain. Root it out. Rub salt in the wound. Mock them. Punch your fist through their chest and rip out their still beating hearts. Dig them a hole so you can take them even lower, to the core. Tap into your own pain, and make it resonate.
And then find a way for them to rise above, to WIN. Make them fly, and take your readers with them.
There’s nothing better. But you can’t take your characters (and readers) to the highest point, until you take them to their lowest. You have to take them to Hell before you can take them to the stars.
If you’re doing it right, and you’re writing deep and hot enough to scar, the experience can be cathartic. But it can also take it out of you. And doing it over and over again can be difficult on your equilibrium.
So take a break. Walk away for awhile between drafts or even scenes if it’s a particularly difficult one. Refresh yourself. Do something silly and fun. Get your balance back.
Because then you’re going to be sending the thing to Beta readers, or agents, or an editor. And the emotional rollercoaster starts all over again, in another way, and you still have to keep writing.