Ever feel that way? I do. Whether I’m writing, editing, graphic designing, or dealing with life, some days, the toll seems greater than the outcome.
When we write, there’s unbridled joy that bubbles to the surface. We remember why we love this craft, forget the sorrow and frustration while basking in the glow of a fresh creation. The idea that this is ever a chore seems alien and odd.
Only days (or hours) later, we’re thrust into the misery of word amnesia, unable to string more than two measly phrases together. And even those flatten and squish beneath the tread of our creative demand.
Are we pushing ourselves too hard? Not hard enough? To which deity did we forget to sacrifice?
It’s a question I’ve been troubled with the last few weeks, largely because I have my hands in a lot of pies, and most days, I love my life. Even the brightest days, though, must yield to night. I am renown for overtaxing and overstressing myself, taking on more than I can reasonably handle.
I daresay, many of us do. Sometimes, we take on more story than we “should,” unaware at the beginning what this simplistic tale will cost. After all, it’s nothing more than words on a page, and we don’t even have to use ink and paper anymore. Writing has one of the lowest costs of entry of any craft.
Ah, to live so foolishly again, eh? Once you’ve spent a few sun-moon cycles as a writer, you know better than to ever think the only price of your art will be the hours spent in front of your computer.
Good stories—the kind that will grip readers and make us proud—live with us, 24/7. There is no escape. We can’t eat, cook, watch television, hang out with friends, travel…not without some part of us fretting over the next plot point, daydreaming about the upcoming scene, pondering the choices we would make if faced with the same quandary.
I believe Master Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Truer words, eh, my fellow wordsmith?
We aren’t trying too hard. Not when the story matters. There’s no such thing as doing too much. Not when we can do more. Not when the cost is having to live with having done less.
We often talk about how many books you can churn out in a year, how many novels you have to publish to break even, how many stories will equal a series. But I find myself wondering, how much can you sacrifice to make those books and series? Because if we’re really trying, then we know the price demands our very soul.
I don’t know about you, but when the day is through and I’m sitting down to pound out some words, there are days I don’t have much left to give. So I carve out the tiny bits that float to the surface and hope they’re enough.
Are we trying too hard? I would argue that’s not even the question. Rather, is our soul in our work? Are we “bleeding” on the page? And if so, how much blood can you afford to give this year?
For most of us, that’s a much harder question to answer. As it should be.