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Have You Ever Lost It?

November 26, 2010

Despite the picture above, today’s been a good day.

It began with waking up to the task of helping a friend decorate for Christmas. I’d slept over at her house for this purpose. It took over three hours to decorate because her house is magical at this time of year. Then, I went home and watched Eat, Pray, Love with my mom. What’s not to love?

It wasn’t until about 20 minutes ago, when I found myself contemplating what to do next, that something dawned on me. Not necessarily like a light bulb flickering to life in my head, but one turning off –

I’ve lost it.

The desire to do homework, tidy the house, bake, read, write. I’ve lost the motivation to do any of the things I used to fill my spare time with. Having four hours on my hands doesn’t bring with it the excitement it used to – the excitement surrounding free time in which to write or read or blog. It’s hard to connect to the me that wrote this – Why I Write – a few months ago.

I’ve lost the motivation to do the thing I thought made me who I was. I say I’m a writer. I think about my book and feel the desire to see it finished, but I don’t want to finish it. I don’t want to edit it. I can’t even fathom how I would if I did want to. There’s not a single person around me who can help with this. No one close – who I have easy access to – that can come over and help me dig in. Can actually sit down with me and give me the advice I need.

I feel terrible. I don’t blog as much anymore. I get home from school and feel like collapsing and doing absolutley nothing. The odd thing is, though, that I hate doing nothing. It’s counterproductive. It’s ending the day before it’s begun.

All summer, I lived in a dreamland. I cleaned the house, did the laundry, exercised, dreamed, wrote thousands of words every day, blogged every day, kept the house in order – in other words, overachieved. The contrast between now and then – when I’m lucky if I get the bird cage cleaned at weekly intervals – is heartbreaking to me. All I do is dream about doing instead of actually doing.

I want so badly to make The Lemonites beautiful. I want to feel as though I’ve accomplished something every day. I want to meet or exceed my expectations of myself. And yet I sit and sit and sit and live life as though it’s all in my head – as though dreaming and thinking about my ambitions and hopes and goals will help me achieve them.

Have you lost your motivation before? Have you ever been horrified by the fact that you can, indeed, do nothing? That you can not do the thing you thought was necessarily for you to live (writing, in my case)? What in the world happened to the person who did so much? Who used to put off meals so that she could finish doing the laundry? Who spent 6 hours a day for one week in the middle of the summer writing? How on earth did my books get written in the first place?

Maybe it’s my lack of guidance and the intimidating prospect of months of editing – a truly foreign concept to me – or maybe it’s that I’m just overtired, but something’s missing. Have you ever lost it, too? And, more importantly, did you ever run into it again?

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2010 4:40 PM

    ooh, and I like your new blog layout! it makes me excited for christmas πŸ™‚

  2. November 27, 2010 8:34 AM

    I haven’t found it yet, but I’m still trying.

    Dr. B

  3. November 27, 2010 7:39 AM

    Yes, this has happened to me. And yes, this is completely normal! Please don’t be hard on yourself–this will pass. My best suggestions are to 1. make yourself go through the motions of at least the most necessary of those things that are required even though your heart is not in it. And, well, the best way to say this is “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

    You do not have to complete the entire term or clean the whole house or write the entire book all at once. Sometimes I feel the weight of my entire list of responsibilities and every engagement on my calendar at once. It can be quite overwhelming. It helps to slow down, breathe and take it all one at a time: hour by hour, chore by chore, page by page, day by day–whatever works for you.

    Hang in there little bird–this too shall pass!

    xo

    • November 27, 2010 10:14 AM

      Oh, thank you, Dalene! I love it when you comment, but particularly when I really need the encouragement!

      I like that idea – hour by hour. I’m a planner. I have every moment of my day planned down to the actual time. I think just avoiding *that* might be helpful!

      Love you!

      -Madeleine

  4. November 27, 2010 2:37 AM

    I lose it not really in the sense of writing, but in the sense of school. I get what you mean by the fact that we all try to achieve great things, but while I used to be able to dig into all that homework and hand in a stellar project, I’ve lost the motivation to do so this year (which totally sucks because this is the year where marks count for applying to universities!) It sucks but I keep my eye on my goals, and just try my best to deal with it. I think sitting down and actually *starting* to work is the toughest part for me, but I don’t know for you.
    I don’t really have much advice other than do something that is enjoyable instead of nothing at all, and don’t just a bump in what you’re passionate about stop you from working past the phase. I do think it’s just a phase and you will totally get through it. Sorry for this rambly and not really helpful comment 😦 I hope you keep pushing through that silly little i-dont-want-to-read-or-write bubble!

    • November 27, 2010 2:39 AM

      Audrey, always so optimistic. ;D

      I understand your comment about school as well. Motivation is something that tends to seep out just as we need it. Thanks for the comment!

  5. November 27, 2010 1:56 AM

    I have DEFINITELY lost it. More than once. For long chunks of time. You’re totally normal, Madeleine — I promise!

    The worst is that I constantly beat myself up over it — *You should be writing, Sooz!* or *Get off your butt and stop wasting time!!*. Guilt doesn’t help me at all, but really only serves to make me feel like crap.

    For me, I give myself a set amount of time (maybe a week, or a day, or even just an afternoon), and then I say, “I will work after this break.” Then I enjoy my free time laziness (all the while psyching myself up for working), and when the free time is up, I get to work.

    Admittedly, I may not be very productive at first… There is usually a lot of staring at the screen or half-hearted vacuuming, but at least I try. I find that within a few days, the clog is cleared, and I’m back to Full Susan Mode. πŸ™‚

    And Miranda is right that goals REALLY help! My goal right now is to finish revising 1/2 of my WIP by Christmas… It will take a lot of work with zero slacking, but then I get a few week break after. πŸ™‚ (Plus, revising is the most fun in the whole process, though, so I don’t mind working my butt off!)

    “I don’t want to edit it. I can’t even fathom how I would if I did want to.”

    I don’t know far you are into the editing process, but I can totally help (if you want, of course). Editing is intimidating, but all it takes is a little managing to make it fun! I love revising more than I love writing, and I never thought I’d be that way!

    Good luck, Madeleine! You’ll pull through, but in the meantime, relax…. Enjoy movies with your mom and daydreaming. πŸ˜€

    • November 27, 2010 2:31 AM

      Oh, you rock! πŸ˜€

      I’m at the apprehensive, bewildered editing stage – as in I haven’t really started. I’ve been doing a lot more contemplating and dreading than actual work. I have absolutely no idea how to start. Any advice would be fantastic (email me through the contact page!). πŸ˜€

      My long-term editing goal is to finish by the end of the school year (mid-June), which gives me over six months. I think it’s possible, but it’s hard to judge when I have no idea how efficiently I can edit.

      Thanks for the fabulous tips, Susan!

  6. November 26, 2010 9:02 PM

    I lose it everyday, my friend. πŸ™‚ Every time I read a fantastic book, I start to freak out a little bit, thinking, “I could never do this. Why do I even keep writing?”

    Honestly, I think it all depends on the story. I’ve written a lot in my life, and some stories are great, and others are so-so. Sometimes when I feel like I’ve lost all hope, I start writing other books or stories, and those flow better.

    And I think feeling down is all a part of writing. You’ve been someplace else that no one can ever truly go to – you’ve been to the world you created in THE LEMONITES. It’s hard to share that with somebody. Apparently JK Rowling went through major withdrawals after finishing HP.

    To get past this, I started setting little goals. Try to get a partial request. Try to get a full request. I worked harder when I had goals to meet. πŸ™‚ I hope this helps.
    You’re not alone!

    • November 26, 2010 9:56 PM

      Super duper great advice (you’ve got a talent for it)! Goals tend to work really well for me, but part of the problem now is knowing what goals to set. I’m so lost. You’re an expert editor/reviser, though, so perhaps you could give me some starter tip sometime?

      Thank you, Miranda!

      • November 27, 2010 6:38 AM

        This is going to sound like a strange suggestion, but often when I hit writing or editorial blocks, I stop to read a bunch of books. Not for pleasure. I read them to look at plot structure and character arc structure. I think about how things change from the beginning to end of the book.

        Another thing I’ve taken to doing (and this is a Tiffany Reisz suggestion) is reading Twenty Master Plots. There are checklists throughout the book, and if I feel my book is “missing” something, I’ll read the checklist that goes with my plot type (transformation, quest, maturation, discovery, etc) and see what I can do to make the plot fuller.

        Another thing I do is look at each scene. I make sure each scene feeds the next scene. (Domino effect) And then I make sure each scene not only has a purpose, but has many purposes (shows character development, gets info across, ups the stakes, gives us more tension, whatever.)

        The other book that helps me is called THE OBSERVATION DECK. It has lots of different suggestions for writer’s block and has helped me in several instances.

        Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  7. November 26, 2010 8:59 PM

    What you describe is the life of a writer. πŸ˜‰ Cause real life rarely makes room and time for writing. And we all fall in and out of love with it for various reasons. For my own reasons, I’ve felt the same way. I’ve put off working on Mallory or Hayes since September. Yes, that long since I made movement there. And I didn’t really start writing and editing much again until this past week.

    It can be rough, the love may fall away for a while…but it comes back. Just ride the wave, do as much as you can without over doing it. And wait for it.

    But you DO try to accomplish too much at one time, my little anxious over achiever. πŸ˜‰ Love you!

    • November 26, 2010 9:54 PM

      I *am* a little anxious over achiever. πŸ˜€ You know me like the back of your hand.

      It’s good to know that *you’ve* had the same trouble. I haven’t really written anything since AUGUST (the horror), but I don’t really care about a bad few months as long as they’re just that – a few months.

      And thanks for always pushing me to keep trying. Love you!

  8. Paige kinnaird permalink
    November 26, 2010 8:32 PM

    I know exactly what you described. I have felt the same many times, for many days , consuming hours with nothing when so much is left to do.
    I have been procrastinating on a writing project for four years…I have found I am able to overcome my periods of melancholy by focusing on completion and not perfection ( at least not on this draft). Good drink and chocolate also come in handy.
    Be strong and have faith in yourself…

    • November 26, 2010 8:38 PM

      Thank you. It’s comforting just to know that people get it. That this abnormality is actually normal. ;D

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