Friday, September 23, 2011

Pushing Too Hard

I don't know what happened. One morning I just sat down and opened up my blog dashboard and my brain shut down. Have I been pushing myself too hard? Getting involved in too many things? Joining too many blogfests and challenges? Probably. It feels like the creative center of my brain just shut down. Probably from overwork. I feel like I haven't accomplished much. But when I think about it rationally, I realize that for the past several months I've been enjoying a spurt of creativity greater than any I've experienced so far in my life. Then one day it just gave out on me.

I closed down my dashboard and I've barely looked at it since. I missed Alex's blogfest. (Sorry, Alex!) And I failed to return interview questions by the date my interview was supposed to be posted. (My apologies, E.R.!) But I desperately needed to walk away for a little while. I have barely read a blog or thought about blogging for over a week and, honestly, it felt good. In hindsight I see that I was running on fumes for the first part of this month, barely getting by, not receiving the inspiration I've grown accustomed to. If I even so much as thought about my stories my brain would slow to a sluggish crawl.

I realize what a real danger pushing yourself too hard can be. Unfortunately, it's a tendency of mine. I've been pressuring my brain to come up with new ideas, new material. I've been attempting to create an entire world in my mind. I've been demanding much of my creativity, but not feeding it enough. It finally said, enough is enough.

I think this is why it's so important for writers to continually read as well. Reading feeds our creative brain. The more story it soaks up the more it understands and can produce. And thus it's important to give it a steady stream of new material. New stories, new ideas, new techniques to take in and process and add to your author's toolbox.

It's been several months since I read something new that was really good, good enough to fire my own imagination. (Though I have to admit, that last rocket boost from Lord Dunsany kept me going a good long time.) Which is probably why my creativity started to sputter and die. But recently the final book in a trilogy that I found quite fascinating finally came out and as soon as my husband was done with it I dived in. And despite its flaws, this book has been like a feast to a starving man for my imagination. Particularly since the plot happens pretty much entirely in Hell and the author spends a fair bit of time world building the various circles and regions therein. This is of interest to me because one of my novels will have large sections devoted to action happening in the underworld of my fantasy realm. I've learned a lot from this author's treatment of a similar type of landscape. The wheels of my creative brain are starting to spin again.

I was even able to open up blogger and write this post without my brain turning to goo. Though, admittedly, I feel way out of the loop now. I'm not even going to try to catch up on most of the blogs I've missed. I'm just going to look ahead and get back into the swing of things going forward. I've got blogfests to prepare for! And I've learned something from this whole experience. Don't push your imagination too hard without giving it regular meals. And take a break when you need to.


  1. Great post! I know the feeling. I've been pushing myself a lot lately. I need to find some balance. It's hard to do when you want to do everything!

    Have a good weekend! :)

  2. Oh, don't I know this feeling. I've had my own blogging burn out this summer and even after two weeks of vacation, I didn't have the energy to start again. Stepping back from everything online is the right decision. None of us are superheroes and we need our rest.

    And you're right, reading really helps with firing the imagination back up. :)

  3. It's a crazy mix, social media and the creative mind. They say we have to be online to gain "platform," yet it is often a killer of creativity for introvert types to constantly engage with others. It's a dilemma I see a lot of writers struggle with. Most opt to take a blogging break to refuel at some point. I think it ought to be made mandatory. We should have to take a week off for every three months we blog. Just sayin'.

  4. I definitely believe in taking a step back from everything, relaxing with the things you love, and coming back when you're ready :)

  5. It's important to take breaks. This isn't all supposed to feel like work.

  6. You were missed for the blogfest, but don't worry about it! If a break was needed, that's cool. Just glad to hear from you.

  7. Christine, ah, balance! That would be nice. I tend to be a person of extremes.

    L.G., a week off every 3 months sounds like a great idea! We'd all have to rotate though so we didn't leave a void behind. ;)

    Miss Cole, part of the problem is that I love too many things! I am compelled to get involved in too much.

    Matt, agreed, blogging should never be viewed as work.

    Alex, I'm sure the blogfest went well without me, barely. ;)

  8. Some days I know the feeling... Before my vacation back in August, I used to mash up blogging and editing and so on, but since I've returned, I've found it's really helpful if I have 2 or 3 blogging nights per week and then ignore it all the rest of the time, in favour of writing and editing.
    And I never stop reading :-)
    Got an award for you tomorrow!

  9. I was pushing a little too hard too. I ended up taking an impromptu hiatus from blogging for the summer. I'm trying to get back on the bandwagon, because I do enjoy the Blogosphere, but with anything: Sometimes you just need a break.

  10. The good thing is that you know what you'vce been driving yourself too hard. I never seem to know when to stop, which is why my writing suffers.

    I'm sure you'll be able to come up with all you need to, since you've had a little time to recharge your batteries.

  11. Sarah, I think you just described my life. September's been a rough month for me, between recuperating from my CampNaNo run in August, dealing with the end of summer vacation, packing to head back to school, and spending a week and a half running around with my mom and trying to deal with my first few classes. My Google reader now shows 1000+ blog posts unread, I missed a couple of writing challenges I planned on tackling, and I haven't really blogged much of anything in a while.

    So I'm really glad to see that you took some time out to do some reading, and to spark your creative juices again. I think it's something that we all need to do. Judging from the length of my school to-do list, I think I'm going to have to majorly scale back all my social media time, which makes me all sorts of sad. I love all the blog challenges and hops and whatnot, and having to ignore that kind of thing so I can deal with school feels so lame. :/

  12. I think I do that too - in fact, I've been pushing myself to finish off some September to-do items. Thanks for warning me about the dangers! I think I'll take it a bit easier next month, and make sure that my muse and energy reserves are in tip-top shape for Nano!

  13. It's important to take time for relaxing to rejuvenate that creative flow!


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