Every now and then I look at my old life and my new life and wonder which is better.
Last year, I worked at a frustrating job where I had to fit in as much writing time as I could in my windows of spare time. All I could think about was how nice it would be to write all day with no distractions.
Now I write from home full time, and oddly, some of the writing "spark" is gone. I remember being so on fire at work that when my lunch hour was over, I'd close my Word document feeling angry and resentful that I had to stop. I haven't been on fire like that since I quit.
It's baffled me for six months why my writing career feels less like a passion and more like a chore. Finally, I decided I must be falling prey to the most debilitating question a writer can ask:
Am I wasting my time?
When I was at a job where there was hardly any work, all I did was waste time until I could go home. Instead of doing things that were the most worthwhile, I did things that were the most fulfilling. Writing was what got me through the day.
At home, I ask myself every single minute if what I'm doing is worth giving up that job. If the answer is no, I find it next to impossible to do it. Sometimes the answer is always no and I find myself doing nothing at all.
The problem is I'm working on a rough draft. When I revise Sacred Fire (a novel I've worked on for five years), it's easy to spend hours on it because it's a semi-finished product. It's polished and beautiful, so I know the work I put into it is worthwhile.
Voodoo Queen, on the other hand, is a horrid mess. I wouldn't show it to someone even under torture. It's hard to put so much faith into such an ugly little thing.
One thing has saved me: my Work Diary. I've kept one for the past two years, and I read it over every now and then to remind myself how unhappy I was before I quit working. By keeping track of my progress every day, I know that even if I'm upset with myself for not being more productive, I'm still getting much more done than before.
John Lennon once said, "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." I need to post that in big letters on my desk. No more pressure and guilt; I need to give myself permission to waste time writing.
It sounds contradictory, but it's not. When I write a scene, instead of constantly asking myself, "Am I just going to cut this scene later?" I should say, "I enjoy writing this scene." When I'm blogging, instead of asking, "Does anyone even read this?" I should say, "I enjoy blogging" and go for it.
It's something I'm still working on.