Finding Your Way Back

Hi. My name is Brighton, and it’s been months since I’ve written.

Yes, you read that right. Months.

There are some writers who have to write on the regular or they go crazy. If they don’t, they feel off. I’m not one of them. The fact is, my entire writing life since I started on this journey many years ago can be summed up in two words: floods and droughts. Either I am going gangbusters, or not at all.

Since finishing Paige in Progress last fall, I’ve written blog posts and a short outtake for Tessa Ever After, but that’s been it. I have a work in progress I’ve tried fruitlessly to flesh out, but no characters would talk to me. None of my usual tricks worked. And so I did something that a lot of writers may have had a hard time with: I gave myself permission not to write.

Have I missed it? Yes, of course. While droughts are nothing new for me, this lengthy of a drought totally is. Five months with nothing more than a thousand word piece here or there is the least amount of words I’ve produced in seven years. And it’s been frustrating to say the least.

But the reason I gave that forgiveness to myself and said it was okay to take the break was because in the last year, I’ve had some health issues that have made writing—or even finding the desire to write—a struggle. One like I’ve never really experienced before. It’s like the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever had, multiplied by 17,000.

Last April, what I thought was a minor problem of flared-again sciatica from earlier pregnancies turned into a severe bulging disc in my lower back that needed back surgery. By November, I was spending most of my days in bed because, while it still hurt to lie down, it hurt slightly less than walking, standing, and sitting. And being horizontal in bed, while great in my books (heh), isn’t so great for actually writing those books. Could I have written while flat on my back? Probably. My word count would’ve taken a severe hit, and thus so would’ve my progress, but, sure, it could’ve been done.

The problem was that I just didn’t want to.

Writing about happy people falling in love while in constant pain isn’t something I’ve ever had to work through, and bless all those authors who manage to do it. I just couldn’t. Prior to this little hiccup in my career, I didn’t think my moods affected my writing or my characters all that much, but hoooooooo, boy, do they.

It’s been four weeks to the date since my surgery (microdiscectomy between L5 and S1 for those curious), and I’m still working on finding that desire. Up until yesterday, the pain was equal to what it was pre-surgery, so nothing much had changed on that front (which is a real bitch to work through in and of itself). I’m hopeful that the meds the doc put me on has me on the right path to feeling better, and thus—hopefully—on the path to being in a headspace to write again. I kind of miss hearing the whispers of characters in my head—especially when I’ve been trying so hard to hear them for months.

I know I’m not the only one who’s heard others profess that writers have to write every day to be considered a “real” writer. Well. I’m here to tell you, on month five of my drought, that it simply isn’t true. Writers can write whenever they want. And if it takes you five days or five weeks or five months or five years to pick up your pen—or put fingers to the keyboard—again, you are still a writer. Once you’re a writer you’ll always be one, and a lack of words—no matter how great—can never strip that from you.

The good news is, that blank doc will always be there waiting for you. Whenever you’re ready.

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