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I've discovered what might be the key to why writing has been so very very difficult for the past 6 years. Yes, the loss and recapture of my writing voice was a big part of it, but even with that new awareness and self-integartion, I've been struggling.

Last week I was having a very frustrating conversation with a writer friend of mine. Frustrating because I was venting, not furstrating because they were unhelpful. They were actually very helpful. We unpacked how irritated I am by my persistent incapability to write like I used to - back when words used to flow and storylines would manifest out of thin air - no matter how much healing I do, no matter how much self-care I build into my routine, no matter how passionate I am about a creative project. I explained how I'd recently realized how much my brain relies on having a cheering squad for my creative endeavors, and was bemoaning that with my writer-friend, who very accurately noticed that relying on external motivation is not ideal.

And then they noticed something. A pattern in my writing style. With a flurry of sketches and examples, they began to (quite literally) illustrate each discrete step in the creative process by using digital art as their allegory. That's when it clicked into place.

I don't know how to interact with the writing process.

I've never done it. I know it involves discipline and planning, but I've never understood what the steps were. Historically, I'd always been a "pantser," which is to say, I would just write as it came to me - flying by the seat of my pants. Often my stories would just write themselves, I only needed to sit still enough to hear my characters. I thought that recovered from burnout would look like that. I expected that I'd be the same person I was. But I'm not the same person. I can't be the same person. And in fact, I've already noticed how freeing it is to accept that I'm not that person anymore. So why was I expecting my creative process to look the same?

So. Now I'm learning how to apply the writing process. I'm learning how to write draft after draft and save editing for much later and how to add depth and "thickness" and context. How to do complete whole rewrites of things instead of just tweaking what's in front of me. And how to apply self-discipline. This is the part where I'm really grateful for the self-discipline I've developed when it comes to this blog and the blog for work.

I suddenly see a long path in front of me. Despite it being long and clearly quite the journey, I'm finding myself relieved. I'm tired of walking in the fog. I'm tired of feeling about for the path and making only the barest, tiniest bit of headway. I'm tired of feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. I'm relieved to find out that I actually didn't know what I was doing. Because now that I know, I can do something about it.


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