fbpx

Dammit Jim, I'm a Writer, not a Robot

I’ve been seeing a number of items on social media recently about writer burnout, caused by years on the “write faster” treadmill. One thread on, say, a writers’ Facebook group I could ignore. Two, hmm, interesting coincidence. When it topped three separate platfoms and groups of writers, it started to look like a trend.

If you’re a reader, I’m about to say something blasphemous, but it’s meant with love—after ten years of being published, I’m still astonished and ecstatic that people actually read my stories. I’m not a best seller by any means, but I love all my readers and I want to give them the best experience possible.

Here’s the blasphemy: Your favorite authors don’t owe you another book. Not another book this month, nor another book this season, not yet even another book within a year. They don’t owe you another book. Period. They are people, with lives, with problems of their own, and they never have to write another word if they are not so inclined. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Here’s another dark secret (which is not really dark or a secret): Writers want to make readers happy.

We’d love to be able to turn out great stories like a factory turns out widgets, but creative endeavors don’t quite work like that. And if writers try to force it, bad things generally happen—depression, exhaustion, complete and total burnout showing up as raging writer’s block where they have difficulty making grocery lists.

Writing—using words to create worlds and people that didn’t exist before—is freaking hard. Creating people with real problems who overcome those problems and earn their happy endings cannot be done over the weekend. Dear lord in heaven, I wish it could.

Sometimes, if one is redeeming a villain created as a foil to a previous heroine (Talyn Penthes, I’m looking at you), it takes—wait for it—nine years. Of course, there were other books written and published during that time, but they had difficulties show up, too. My subconscious mind is weird.

And finally, a piece of unsolicited advice: Be kind to your favorite authors. They are working hard to bring you the next story; sometimes, they are working too hard, driving themselves toward burnout. Try, maybe, a social media message like this, “I love your work and I can barely wait for the next book, but please take care of yourself because I also want all the books after that, too.”

May you get all the new books you want for Christmas. My break is over, time to go back to the word mine.

1 comment so far

  1. Lieselotte on

    Yeas, dear Val! Yes!
    Like a baby I encourage on its first rocking little wobbly steps, I want you to write. But like that hopeful adult, I want you happy more.

    To me, the readers throwing temper tantrums are somehow going through another phase of our childhood. Yes, I revisit, too. In my little corner somewhere, I may gnash my teeth that the story I so wish, it is still not coming. But I know that it may never come. For whichever reason. I hated (in a very civilized way) and admired LaVyrle Spencer and Judith Krantz, who, for very different reasons, just decided to not write anymore. Their life, their decision, of course. And yes, back then, I desperately wanted another book from each of them.

    So yes, completely utterly supported (and I will just get a gnash protector for my teeth, one of those weird plastic things that …. not important).

    Wish you well!!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: