Write of Way #3 – Writing like Forrest Gump
A thousand more words. You’re almost there, damnit! Gotta keep writing.
Your fingers clack on the keyboard with ever-faltering intensity, your thoughts rush with all the speed of molasses in winter. 500 more words.
Can’t stop now.
And then, finally, slamming that last period onto the page, you’re done! Another chapter for your work in progress is complete.
You should be excited, and you are, but not like you once were. As much as you love your project, you’re burned out.
If this were a relationship, I’d say it’s time to spice things up in the bedroom. But this isn’t a relationship. This is something much more difficult: writing. So we’re not going to spice things up. Instead, we’re just going to…take a break.
It’s not you, it’s me. I think we just need some time off.
Okay, all joking aside, writing ain’t easy. It’s a grueling ultra-marathon that runs on and on and on such that even Forrest Gump would have trouble keeping up.
This is a situation I’m sure you’ve experienced, and it’s certainly one I’ve experienced.
I once wrote 18k words in a day to hit a deadline. Sure, that’s a cool feat, but you know what’s not cool? The amount of coffee I needed to function afterwards. Not to mention my complete lack of desire to write anything else for about two weeks.
Writing a novel, or a short story, or even flash fiction, is no quick process, and it’s all too easy to burn out along the way. So what’s a writer to do?
Well, lucky for you, I have a solution to this predicament, and it can be yours, right now, for three easy payments!*
Or, I suppose, you could just read to the next line.
The way to avoid burning out is to take a break. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Just take a break. Take some time for yourself. Get some self-care in.
Some writers advise the importance of writing daily. A steady diet of reading and writing keeps the doctor away, after all (or was that apples?). But writing daily isn’t always the best decision, I’ve found. In fact, it can easily lead to unproductive ruts of guilt and self-doubt.
All it takes is one day where something goes wrong, one day where you’re too tired to write, and the guilt begins to build up.
“I didn’t write last night.” “I didn’t finish that chapter.” “I’m behind on my word count and now I have to work twice as hard tonight to catch up.”
Nah, forget that noise. Writing is hard enough without piling that kind of guilt and pressure onto yourself.
Writing isn’t a Usain Bolt record-breaking sprint. It’s more of a Forrest Gump-esque, cross country, limits-of-human-endurance-defying marathon. So take your time. Don’t kill yourself.
Now, I’m not advocating for being lazy. Nor for slacking off. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You just don’t have to do it with every spare moment you have.
Write with passion, sure. Write with dedication, certainly. But most of all, write with patience. The patience that comes from knowing this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Write with patience, and make Forrest proud.
*Payment is accepted in the form of cash, money orders, personal checks, wire transfers, blood sacrifices, favors, unique fountain pens, and pictures of Sasquatch.
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If y’all don’t know me, I love chatting with writers about writing and all of our other bad habits. I’m always going to ask for your thoughts after these posts, and believe me, I really do want them. Feel free to respond here, or on Twitter (@GrindarkGuy, @thefantasyhive).
As always, I love to hear your thoughts. How do you avoid burning out? What’re the most words you’ve ever written in one sitting? How bad was the fallout?