This was one of those weeks.
Monday I was on fire. Subbing. Critiquing two chapters for the OC Inklings and three works for the Brea Library. Transcribing the tangle of my Civil War notes--some 2000 words. Finishing the article about Sonia Marsh. Going grocery shopping. Making dinner. Doing dishes. Answering emails.
But I was tired and that weariness began creeping up on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. I still did tasks. I finished organizing the 42,000 words of notes I'd done on The Originals during January and February. I re-wrote Chapter 27 of Three Floating Coffins. I cleaned. But I could feel the burn out creeping up on me. Then, on Thursday, I finally crashed.
The crashes come, I think, when I push myself too hard. I don't like to accept when I've reached a limit, because I never feel like I've done enough work to justify a rest. I berate myself against all the published writers who churn out books like paper-wrapped sticks of butter and tell myself, If you can't even handle this, how will you handle real work when it comes? How will you handle deadlines and marketing and pressure and juggling schedules? You're just pretending to be a writer. You can't really do it.
Needless to say, this kind of self-criticism doesn't actually help me produce work.
Weirdly enough, what did help me--this week, at least--was picking up a new fantasy book (Graceling by Kristen Cashore) and reading it from cover to cover, until I was done. Reading gives me energy; I can never understand how people fall asleep while reading every night. Reading puts new ideas in my head and reconnects me to my love of stories. After I finish reading, I look at writing not as one more task I need to accomplish, but as something fun, something that ressonates against my soul.
So what if I don't have perfect butter-stick novels yet? There's lumps in the cream and I'm ready to start churning again.