Sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to cooperate with writing anything. It’s frustrating to me when this happens, because a decade or so ago, when I was writing and publishing frequently, I had *too many* ideas. But now, sometimes my mind just goes completely blank and I can’t think of anything to write at all.
It started several years ago, when I started feeling a lot of stress, anxiety, and even full-on panic about writing. I won’t go into the whole story behind that right now; I’ve talked about it online a fair bit and might blog about it more in the future. For now, I’ll just say that due to a combination of personal-life stress and trauma along with poor sales and difficulty coming up with new stories at the pace I’d set myself, the writing part of my brain kind of collapsed. For years, I was unable to write anything at all.
I started writing again in 2020 or 2021, but not romance. Writing romance again didn’t happen until last year. But then I started feeling the stress and pressure again. It’s less than it was, in part because I’m self-publishing; some of the stress and anxiety years ago was a probably-irrational fear that my publishers would be angry with me for not selling more copies of my books. But it’s still present, and it still sometimes results in my mind going blank when I sit down to write something.
This time, I’m giving respect to that fear. That doesn’t mean letting it rule me, but it does mean that rather than fighting against the fears and the “don’t know what to write,” I’m honoring myself to the extent of saying, “Okay, let’s take a break for a week or two and see what happens.” It means rearranging the schedule I’d planned to accommodate not having a new book ready by a certain date, as well as making the decision that I will not announce release schedules more than six months in advance. (With the exception of Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat 5 and 6, which are coming out in January and July 2024 respectively.)
Sometimes it means not writing anything at all and letting that be the case, rather than letting not writing lead to the additional fear that I’m heading into another years-long stretch of not being able to write or fear that readers will forget I exist and my books will go down the tubes if I don’t release frequently. Trying to force writing when the ideas aren’t there only results in me writing something that’s either complete crap or that I half-ass so I can say it’s done, and obviously neither of those cases yields something I would actually want to put out in public.
At other times, though, ideas come to me and things flow. My novel Fill the Empty Spaces was a case of me saying “I want to write about someone grieving,” and then I followed the story and the main character. It led in a direction I wasn’t anticipating, but I think the book is good, and I will be releasing it in October of this year. A few weeks ago, I went to Canada to visit family and wrote two short stories while I was there, because ideas just popped into my head and I rolled with them.
Right now, I would like to be writing a short story or maybe starting another novel. But I don’t have any ideas, so I’m letting myself not write. The ideas will come, and when they do, I’ll write something good. Something I’ll be proud of. Until then, I’m respecting and honoring the part of me that feels anxious and fearful, and I’m letting writing not happen.