Losing Myself in My Writing
I’ve been obsessed with writing lately, which, as a writer, sounds amazing: I’m writing so much! I’m journaling and drafting articles and submitting pitches! I’m doing all the writerly things!
But it’s starting to bum me out.
I spend all day thinking about writing. I brainstorm in the shower, craft dialogue while driving, and create characters as I’m working out. I pause whatever I’m doing to jot down ideas for articles and blog posts. I type up fiction in Scrivener and start new article drafts in Medium.
And when I’m not writing or thinking up things to write about, I’m doing all the administrative work related to writing: tracking deadlines, updating my website, scheduling social media posts.
All day, every day, I’m focused on writing.
What I’m not doing is living.
I’m not fully engaged in conversations because that thing that person said just kicked off a mental thread of topics I could write about.
I’m not going for walks outdoors because it would mean leaving my laptop and there’s just too much write down.
I’m not relaxing because that would mean letting go of the notion that I have to write all the time.
I used to read for pleasure. I’d read a book a week and have been a self-proclaimed magazine junkie for decades. One of my favorite pastimes is curling up with a cup of hot tea, a piece (maybe two) of chocolate, and a great book with a few magazines on the side.
Ironically, now that I’m writing, I rarely read for pleasure. As I write this, a giant stack of magazines sits a few feet away on the kitchen table, begging to be skimmed through. The old me would have dived into those suckers ages ago; I’d have flipped through each issue within days of receiving it.
But new Writer me can’t relax enough to focus on such trivial things. When I try to peruse a magazine’s pages, I wonder if I should be writing instead. My fingers get itchy to check Twitter. I want to know if anyone has read my Medium posts. I need to see if that editor has responded to my pitch.
Or, I begin to read an article and it spurs an idea. My thoughts start churning and soon the magazine has been pushed aside to make room for my computer because I must write before it escapes my brain.
And read fiction? For pleasure? What’s that about? These days if I do any reading at all, it’s about writing. I’m currently partway through The Byline Bible, The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing, Writer’s Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing, and Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays. I have two years’ worth of Writers Market books sitting on my desk and have recent issues of The Writer and Writer’s Digest (the only two magazines I still open immediately) strewn across my office floor.
On one hand, it’s exciting to work in a field that I love so much. It can be fun to read about writing and spend my time coming up with ideas. Not to mention the excitement of birthing an entirely new story or article into the world, and the exquisite joy felt when the piece is received positively.
But man, what I wouldn’t do to get the old me back sometimes.
One of these days I swear I’m going to kick back, cup of tea in hand, and read for the sheer love of reading. I’m going to drown myself in Stephen King stories and O Magazine articles. I’m going to escape to fictitious lands and watch the lives of characters unfold before me.