I’ve posted before regarding my writing downswings, but I don’t think I’ve listed the symptoms of them. I’m currently in another writing downswing, so I’m acutely aware of the symptoms, so I thought I’d write about them today.
I rarely ever recognize I’m entering a writing downswing until I’m in the thick of it. That’s because generally write most or every day. Just not as much as previously. This downswing was preceded by me writing multiple scenes each day, and that changed rather abruptly. I didn’t write for a number of days, then I stopped working on my stories altogether.
The first thing that usually happens that makes me aware I’m in a writing downswing is that I lose interest in my writing. I may even go through a period where I’m disgusted by it all, no matter what genre it is. Usually, I moon over my own writing, constantly rereading my stuff while I work on it, so this change in feeling about my writing is pretty obvious to me. This can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It always passes, but it may come back. I spend a lot of my writing downswings cycling good and bad feelings about my writing.
Another symptom of a writing downswing is having ideas, if I’m pantsing something, but not being able to articulate them in a way which enables me to write them. Right now, on all the stories I was working on, I have clear ideas what I want to do with the stories, but I can’t “grasp” the ideas firmly enough to write them. I can verbally describe them, but that’s a different method, and even with that, I still can’t touch them mentally in such a way that enables me to write them. This distance between me and the ideas fluctuates as well. There are days during writing downswings where I feel absolutely certain I’ll be able to write a scene, but never do, because no matter how “close” to I feel to it, I still can’t grasp it well enough to articulate it clearly. When I try, the scene sucks, is mostly telling, and generally doesn’t do anything to push plot or characterization forward.
Even if I have an outline, with a detailed description of the scene, I can have difficulty. Sometimes, if I’m in the mood to write and I have an outline, I can write a halfway-decent scene, but that’s no guarantee. And the scene, no matter how good it is when I’m done, needs more work than the rest of my writing does. See, there’s a distance between me and the outlined scene as well. Though with the outline I can see it more clearly, it’s still difficult to grasp, so I don’t get as deep into the the scene as I would if I weren’t in a writing downswing.
When I’m in a writing downswing, I tend to hyperfocus and become obsessed with my own writing, whether or not I can bear to look at it. Others’ writing doesn’t interest me as much, and it takes a great deal of effort for me to force myself to read, and then I can’t focus on the book I’m reading. When I can bear to look at my writing, I read through everything obsessively. Sometimes everything I have, sometimes everything in one genre. Over and over. I reread projects I’ve most recently been working on in hopes of being able to grasp the ideas I have for them when I reach the point where they’ve stopped.
The last and most telling symptom of a writing downswing is that I don’t feel like writing at all. I’d rather do other things. This isn’t a consistent feeling, but its the one most prominent throughout my writing downswings. I’m no longer enamored of the act of writing, and can’t be bothered to try. If I do try, I’ll usually feel like my writing sucks—all of it, from stuff I’m doing at present to what I’ve already done, to the ideas I have.
This status may last for a day or two more, or a few weeks. During the month I was planning on using to prep for Nano. LOL Oh, well.