Not The Writer I Used To Be

I struggled with writing in 2022. I had no motivation, no energy, no willingness to sit down and actually get some words done. I was stuck in a vicious circle of wanting to write – not writing – feeling bad about the fact I hadn’t written – losing all motivation to write – wanting to write, and repeat.

I’ve been writing since I was fifteen years old. That’s over half of my life. And I’ve been writing seriously since 2015. ‘Not writing,’ wasn’t something I was used to. But there I was in 2022, unable to focus for more than twenty minutes, partly content to just sit and watch Netflix or scroll through Tik Tok.

Every writing session I did just brought me more disappointment because, for me, I hadn’t done a good enough job. I hadn’t worked hard enough towards my goal of being a published author. That disappointment just put me off wanting to write, until my disappointment in NOT writing grew too big to ignore.

It took me a long time to be okay with my lack of productivity, (like, the end of November,) and longer to realise what the issue was.

I am no longer the writer that I used to be.

I’ve always written the same way. Long writing sessions, and big word counts, setting myself impossible challenges that I would always win. If I lacked motivation at the start, my brain would kick in and work overtime at the last minute to get everything done. Word count was always the main factor as to whether I had done a good job or not.

I still fondly remember being able to write 1700 words in 30 minutes, or 18k in one day. I had the ability to pour words onto the page without thought to how it sounded, or if the spelling was correct, or even if it made complete sense. I could edit after I was done. But those days are, sadly, behind me.

In 2022, faced with those same challenges, my brain shut down. Deadlines loomed, but no burst of productivity would rise to defend. I would have the urge to write mentally, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so physically.

2022, in hindsight, was a year of burnout. But I didn’t see it. All I saw was failure. Giving myself those challenges, an opportunity to rise to the win was making it worse, until I didn’t care anymore.

What I didn’t understand then, but I do now, is that my life is different than it was before. I have different responsibilities in life, different stressors and sources of anxiety. I can’t write how I used to anymore, not because I don’t care about my writing, or have lost my drive towards my goal. But because I physically can’t. My brain doesn’t respond that way anymore. And that’s okay.

I have to find out what kind of writer I am now. I have to relearn things about myself in order to figure out the best way to move forward with my writing and maintain productivity, without the lingering fear of stress or burnout. I need to let go of the writer I once was, and try something new.

I can’t say this will be an easy journey, or one with a single answer. I’m not going to be able to change overnight, and I’m not going to be okay with the change at the snap of a finger.

I’ve done the most important thing, which is figuring out there’s an issue, and making a conscious effort to make a change, instead of trying and failing to stick with what I know. All I need to do now is move forward, make that change, and hope that my motivation returns, even if my old way of writing doesn’t.

Good thoughts, and happy writing.