How to get back into the swing of things after taking a vacation from writing

Checklist on clipboard
I took some time off from posting to concentrate on Passover preparations…and then another couple weeks off recovering. My brain was so focused on errands and checklists, and my body was so exhausted from scrubbing, that I pretty much couldn’t write at the end of the day, not anything coherent anyway. I had several manuscripts under review by editors, so I thought it would be best just to step back a bit from cranking out stories and submitting them.

It was strangely relaxing to stop writing. While I love to write, things were getting jumbled in my head, ideas tangled up, and I was losing focus. I’ve always been a person whose problem is too many ideas, not too few. But it was getting to the point that sitting down to write was like opening up the doors to one of those closets where people just keep shoving things in wherever they fit, and you’re left fumbling for your navy pumps in a mess of fluffy pink sweaters, old luggage, and forgotten handbags that really ought to be sent to Goodwill. Where to start?

Plus, my writing was feeling less joyful. When writing becomes your job, and you expect yourself to produce something (hopefully brilliant) every day, it can become a chore instead of a pleasure. When most of your writing is done at the end of a long day of homemaking, it just turns into one more thing to check off your to-do list. A succession of rejection letters hadn’t helped the situation.

During Passover, I found extra time to lavish on my husband and children, without worrying that I was being a slacker or would miss a deadline (even a self-imposed one). Since most of the publishers I deal with are Jewish ones, I figured they’d all be out of the office, too.

However, my vacation had to come to an end some time. I belong to a critique group, and with a meeting coming up, I had to get back to writing. I forced myself to sit at the computer. My first couple attempts didn’t go anywhere, and I felt a bit demoralized. Thankfully, some wonderful helpers were sent to me from Shamayim (Heaven). Totally unsolicited, two friends told me that they like my writing. One particularly focused on my quirky way of looking at things in a way that’s humorous but true. This made me reconsider what I had been attempting to write.

I think that one of the problems with my recent attempts of writing was that I was trying to write what other people have successfully sold, as opposed to staying true to my own voice. Half-submerged anxiety about pieces that hadn’t sold because they didn’t “fit in” with publisher’s expectations must have led me down the wrong path, and a little reflection set me straight. I ditched the stuff that wasn’t really “me,” and returned to my uniquely wacky and off-beat voice. The ideas are beginning to flow and I’m feeling more optimistic.

The Providential arrival of a complimentary email from an editor contributed to the general upswing, too. If this particular editor loved my piece, I must be good!

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