Should I write everyday?

It is a question that every writer is posed, normally early on in their pursuits, and its a valid question. Should you write each and everyday? My answer is that you should strive to write everyday. Of course, there’s always more to it than that.

We all know how life goes. There will be a streak of days that you aim to write when it just does not seem to happen. You can’t beat those days, so you won’t write on those days. There will be days that you are sick which again means no writing. Do you have to go to a wedding, party, funeral, appointment, or any of the million other things that tie up so much time? If the answer is yes, then the odds are against you.

To combat this, I’d say to put writing on your to-do list every day. It will be an on going battle to actually conquer that item on the list by bed time. There will be days, weeks, maybe even a couple of months that you win that battle, but the opposite is also true.

The main benefit of intending to write is staying motivated and in the creative mindset as often as possible. That mentality can cause some severe headaches to reclaim once it slips away.

“But what about my other goals in life?” you may ask.

This is a valid question with so many different answers because there are so many different factors. You can’t blow off your family indefinitely, be they blood relatives, in-laws, close friends, or pets. You still have to make money to pay bills, and if writing isn’t doing that then you still need a day job. I touch on this a bit more in this small article here.

For the sake of simplicity, here’s the short version of my answer: work towards your goals. If that means your writing time suffers then so be it, but at least intend to write. Try to think on ways to improve your current WIPs while you work towards other goals. Jot down a quick note on some scrap paper if that’s all you can do.

Intention is the key to keeping the door open to writing. When you have time to open that document, file, notebook, or whatever means of writing you use up again, I want you to be able to get right back into your world. When you lose that mindset it feels like it takes two shamans, thirteen gold medallions, and the tears of a mermaid to get it back.

The below links are for related articles that you may find interesting, as well as any articles linked in the story.

Struggles on the Written Road was linked in the story. It briefly covers some of the issues that have stood in my way when trying to find time to write.

Is It Really Burn Out deals with exactly what it sounds like. Are you burned out, or tired and over-loaded.

Does Your Story Go on a Shelf discusses how to handle that transition between writing and editing.

About the Author: I’m from a little town in middle Tennessee. It didn’t offer much in entertainment when I was a kid so I took up reading, thanks to my grandmother, and videogames, courtesy of myself. My love for most things creative and fantasy related took off from there, with writing leading the pack.

Any of Jimmy’s published works can be found on his website or you can find it here on Amazon.

Magic Vs. Morals Pt. II

Popcorn went up, came down, and smacked Finn just below his right eye. Another piece and another try. His old couch creaked with every slight shift while he entertained himself. The time-wasting activity was interrupted by a knock at the door.

       Of course, he had not been expecting this sudden intrusion of sound, resulting in the current kernel hitting his forehead. He never had guests, and it had been days since he had last seen anyone outside of work. Annoyed, he sat his bowl of cold popcorn aside and got up to find a young, sleep-deprived woman at the door.

    He shifted the rest of the way into the doorway, blocking the view into his home. He gave a strained smile and said, “Uh, I’m sorry, do I know you?”

     It wouldn’t be the first time he’d forgotten someone. Then again, it also wasn’t the first time he’d had strangers show up with ill intentions. Then she flipped her wallet open to show a driver’s license and a badge.

   He sucked air through his teeth and looked between the identification and the young woman holding it. Officer Fields. Clad in a hoodie and everyday clothes, she was easy to mistake.

     It wasn’t just her clothes that had changed, though. Her shoulders were drawn in. Puffy, tired eyes stared back at him. Black hair hung lank around her pale face. Finn had to do a final double-take just to be confident it was her.

       “Good afternoon, Mr. Finn. I was hoping to clarify a few things with you?” she asked, in an almost muffled voice. It was a different tone than before. The accusation and irritability had vanished. Still, there was an edge of irritability. It didn’t explain the slight aura of sleepless uncertainty that accompanied her. Finn realized she was still waiting for an answer.

     He reluctantly stepped aside and said, “If it’ll help.”

     Officer Fields entered with a smile and thanked him. Heading to the couch with an apologetic smile, he explained, “Sorry, this is about the only place to sit.”

     She nodded and looked at the bowl of popcorn, “I’m sorry to interrupt your movie like this.”

     “What?” he paused and remembered the popcorn, “Oh, no, you’re not. I was just having a snack. My T.V. is actually busted. Windows, local kids, and street hockey don’t mix well.”

     She nodded but didn’t comment. Finn took a deep breath and asked, “So, your questions?”

     She pulled out a small notepad and said, “Well, I was wondering about something. I know I spoke to you after the robbery about a week ago. My bodycam showed the strangest thing, though.”

      Finn visibly paled as the words ran circles in his head. Bodycam? He forgot the body cam! It sure wouldn’t be grainy and useless! He pulled his worries in, forcing his attention back on her as he asked, “What was it?”

     She hesitated, almost looking regretful, but finally said, “It shows me talking with you. Twice.”

      Finn took a sharp inhale, and she seized on it, “What do you know?”

     He shook his head, “Nothing, I don’t know anything. That’s just, whew, that’s weird.”

      She waited, and he squirmed. When it was clear that he wasn’t going to say more, she said, “You know, this could be considered tampering with evidence unless there’s a good explanation.”

       Finn felt his gut twisting. At last, he blurted out, “Sunspots!”

      She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times until she finally stammered out, “Sunspots? You think sunspots messed up my bodycam?”

      He deflated and shook his head and tried again, “Well, not sunspots but like, you know, sunspots. From where the glare and the heat of the sun caused a warp to the, uh, camera lense.”

      Officer Fields pinched her mouth and waited as he continued, “Yep, probably more damaged on the inside than out. Am I explaining this well?”

       She shook her head and said, “Wow, and you did such an excellent job on your story the other night. Tell you what, I’ll give you one more chance to be honest with me. I came over here on my time off just to clear this up. So, how about some trust? What actually happened that night, and it better not involve my brand new equipment tearing up on my first shift?”

      “Honesty, right, I can totally do that,” he said, rocking back and forth in thought. He jumped to his feet and said, “Okay, hang tight for a moment.”

       He scrambled off to his bedside, still in view, thanks to his tiny one-room home. He dug through his bedside draw momentarily before hurrying back over and holding something in his fist.

       “Okay, so, a couple of things. One, this won’t really help you or the court, but I also don’t want to be arrested. That would be a hassle,” he explained.

     She nodded and commented, “That’s one of the intentions of an arrest.”

     He chuckled and said, “I guess so, but I meant-you know what, it doesn’t matter. That second thing is: I can only do this a couple more times right now, so please watch closely.”

     She watched as he pinched a small metal orb from his left palm. He nodded towards a stockpot sitting on his countertop. In an instant, he had whizzed the object at it with a flash and a small pop. The metal pot arced and clanged across the room and lay dented on the far side.

     Officer Fields scrambled closer to see the side completely caved in as though a bat had been taken to it. In the center of the damage was a faint burn mark. She looked back over to see him holding the second orb up for inspection.

      “On a human, it resembles a bruise more than a burn. Still, it’s more than enough to knock even a strong man out,” Finn explained. Officer Fields got back to her feet, careful to keep the counter between them.

     “What is that?” she demanded more than asked. Finn gave an apologetic smile and said, “This is something I made. It’s a quick discharge energy chamber. I put my energy into one of these, and I have a reliable but straightforward means to defend myself.”

      “Magic?” she asked with a snort. Her face displayed her disbelief as she laughed, a nervous and awkward sound. Finn nodded and answered, “Actually, yes. Magic. The general term for me is a wizard. Now that I’ve told you-“

      Officer Fields backed away and pulled mace from her hoodie pocket. Finn looked at the little canister in nervous confusion. She held it tighter and said, “Now that you’ve told me your crazy delusions, what?”

     Understanding dawned in his eyes as he chuckled and said, “I was going to say I’d have to jump town. Not allowed to talk to normies about this. We do have our own rules and all.”

      She still held it high and said, “I can’t let you do that. If you leave, this will be the end of my career. Being an officer is all I’ve ever wanted!”

      “I’m very sorry to hear that, but not being wanted or incarcerated is pretty high up on my own wish list. Plus, I was honest in the end. You now know what actually happened,” he pointed out.

      “You’re not going anywhere without giving me something real to work with! Surely there’s something; you can’t just screw up my life like this!” she insisted. Finn shook his head, but she pushed forward, “There has to be something!”

      Finn visibly stressed as he nodded and said, “Okay, either way, I’ve got to go now, and I do mean now. Why not tag along and get your answers for a day or two. If you’re coming, then let me grab a few things. Then we have to leave.”

      She nodded and lowered the can of mace as he grabbed a stuffed backpack from under his bed. She stared at the already prepared bag but kept quiet. The last thing he grabbed was his keys and wallet from the counter. He opened the door and lead the way out.

      Once on the tiny front porch, he said, “Let me lock up. I might could come back someday.”

       A distinct smell of burning metal came from the lock when he pushed a silver key into the brass handle. Officer Fields caught on too slow as he shoved the door back open and tumbled through. She barely caught sight of a wide-open field on the other side before it slammed shut on its own.

      She fumbled to reopen it and barged through, dropping onto floors of the home she had just left. Sitting on the cold laminate, reality set in as her dream career began to die. She cursed and slammed her palms against the floor in frustration.

       When her temper had calmed down, and her hip was aching from the uncomfortable position, she stood with a drawn-out groan of frustration.

      “I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more, ma’am,” a deep voice said from behind. She spun to see a tall man with dark skin. He was dressed professionally for the rough area: black slacks, grey button-down, maroon vest, and shoes so shined they were nearly reflective.

      “Who are you?” she asked shakily. The stranger held out a hand and offered a smile, “Timothy Velvet. For time and efficiency’s sake, I’m like the gentleman that so rudely stranded you. That is to say, I’m a magic-user, a sorcerer, to be specific. Your turn.”

       “I’m Violet Fields, um, I’m human and very recently unemployed,” she answered in awe. Timothy nodded and seemed to think for a moment. At last, he said, “I’m in a quandary, Miss Fields. You see, I need to go after him, but I also need to be sure that you don’t talk to everyone about all of this, but that takes time. Would you like to make any suggestions?”

       Her eyes lit up, and she seized the opportunity, “Take me with you, I’ll help you find him. This could get me back on the force.”

       He nodded and guided her back outside, where he shut the door. He stood still, head bowed, and muttered under his breath for a minute. A shadow stretched out from under the door. It danced and weaved across the wooden surface until it met Timothy’s hand on the knob. He looked up and opened the door to reveal the field she had glimpsed. He turned back with another grin and said, “Let’s go.”

Keep your eyes out for Part 3! If you want to go back to Part 1 check the link below

Magic Vs. Morals Pt. I

About the Author: I’m from a little town in middle Tennessee. It didn’t offer much in entertainment when I was a kid so I took up reading, thanks to my grandmother, and videogames, courtesy of myself. My love for most things creative and fantasy related took off from there, with writing leading the pack.

More Links of Interest below

The Girl In The Water another short story

Jimmy Anderson on Amazon this will take you to the author’s published books available for purchase.

Click here to find the author on Twitter and TikTok

Does your story go on a shelf?

     Hello! I’ve been hard at work and have had to pull back a bit, but I’m on the way to catching up. Today’s topic: shelving. No, not what kind of material makes the best shelves. How long do you shelve a project for between significant edits, or do you?

     I ran a poll recently about this very topic to get a bit of a feeling of the opinions of others. It received a lot more attention than I had anticipated, which is a great thing! I presented everyone with four options.

-option 1: I don’t do that 19.9% -option 2: 1-2 weeks at 29.2% -option 3: 2-4 weeks 23.6  -option 4: a month or more 27.3

     It received one-hundred sixty-one(161) votes. As the percentages show 1-2 weeks was the winner, but it did not hold an overwhelming victory. Except for the first option having a small drag, it was a pretty close run.

      The reasoning behind everyone’s individual’s vote was the most interesting. Everyone’s different thought process is so different. Let me take a moment right now to say that I don’t think any of these ways are wrong or incorrect. Everyone has their own methods and process. That’s the key.

      The ones who don’t set their drafts aside at all had various reasons. Some felt like they needed to keep the juices flowing while they had it. Others knew they were sending it off to someone else to have it edited, which defeats the purpose of shelving it for your own sake.

      The other three options all had their own points to explain to the various time lengths. Returning with a fresh mindest was the leader in explanation. Some simply hate revising. Some would work on other WIPs while that last one settles.

     There was even one that doesn’t let their work sit or edit right after finishing. She edited chapter by chapter. Then when she was one-hundred percent finished there would be a final read-through. I thought that was a very unique way to approach a problem and most definitely had some pros to itself.

       Ultimately, what you do for your process should be what you feel most comfortable with. I only hope this short little article provokes you to read into the methods of others. You might see something you agree with. Alternatively, you could see something you do not agree with and know to avoid for yourself.

Writing: Plant Your Garden

Jimmy Anderson, 2020. Planting a story

Why did you shred up paper and throw it in a planter, you ask. It’s symbolic, or it’s supposed to be, at least, of growing(read: planting) your idea. Just like starting a garden, writing requires work before, during, and after.

1st) Be Prepared!

You have to prepare before you write, yes, even if you are a “by the seat of your pants” kind of writer. You still need that basic idea in your head. You need a beginning. Then there’s the main character and setting. Those are all must haves even if you’re going to tweak and design the plot as you go, which we are all guilty of to some degree.

You don’t have to have every little thing laid out, or even most things, but you need something laid out to start. Otherwise, we’d never suffer writer’s block. No different than you need to prepare your garden before you plant, you need to prepare your mind before you write at least a bit. Even if you don’t know what you’re planting you still know to remove large rocks, find good dirt, and dress accordingly. Writing is the same, if there is something in the way of you writing then deal with it sooner rather than later.

2nd) Be willing to learn!

You may want to grow tomatoes and lettuce or roses and cacti, that’s fine, but you have to learn that the care for each is different. The same goes for writing. Some things don’t require research: you already know it, it’s common sense, or it is something you made up entirely. Other things demand that you expand your knowledge: how to survive extreme scenarios, how something is made, why do dogs really do that weird circling thing before laying down, etc. It’s great to write about things that you originally didn’t know much about, just be sure you research it and the genre.

Research the genre? Yes. You can learn a lot about writing by researching the genres you are interested in. An example: I was and still am interested in screenplays so I’ve been studying screenplays. Due to that, I have learned more about subtext than I ever have! I was aware of it before, but now I actively look for it in other works.

Jimmy Anderson, 2020. Watering a Story

3rd) Dedication

You’ve prepared your garden, learned about the plants you want to grow, now it’s time to put it to use. Water that idea! It’s time to write those first drafts, really hammer out the story you want. It’s okay if it’s a bit lanky and not very branching yet, that’s how a lot of plants start too. Keep at it.

Keep it clear of obstacles. Be sure that it sees the light of day. Soon, you’ll find your story branching out as you start footnotes of things you want to go back and add or adjust. You may be trying to think one day and find yourself doodling something from your story. Eventually, you’ll have the real bones of the story!

Jimmy Anderson, 2020. The story grew!

You’ve really got something to grab onto now! You need to flesh it out, clean it up, maybe think on it a bit, but it’s there. It’s staring back at you as you shape and guide it which leads us to:

4th) Patience

Don’t rush your work after getting that first draft done and getting the structure worked on. You want to give it your all, I know, but sometimes that means taking your time. Full steam ahead has a time and a place, but it needs to be tempered for quality. Don’t rush to the ending and leave the resolution looking like a dead patch compared to the vibrant life you had given the rest of the story.

Even when the veggies are ripe, you don’t just rip it free of the plant with maniacal laughter as you mash the juices from it in your haste. Show the ending the same care that you did the rest. Then go back and clean up and out the unneeded parts. Wordiness is like weeds, you’ve got to trim away sometimes.

If a part doesn’t work with the story anymore then something needs to be done. Maybe it can be moved to a different area that’s better suited, or maybe it needs to be pulled entirely to be used in another work or not at all. I know that hurts to do. You want to make it clean and neat so your work can be easily navigated and enjoyed.

Jimmy Anderson, 2020. The story is ripe!

Congratulations! Your story is written, cleaned up, and ready for the world! It’s a long road, and this was a very long comparison. I hope it did drive home my point, though. You don’t have to be big into plotting your story, just don’t tear through it and think it’s perfect right off the bat. TLC goes a long way. Now, I have to go get my actual, physical garden ready for the season. I hope you all enjoyed my long, and probably silly, article today!

Magic Vs. Morals Pt.I

    “So, let me get this straight, you just show up, save the day, and you don’t even know what you did?” a young rookie cop asked. Her black ponytail pulled her brows back slightly and only added to her skeptical expression. Her fellow officers had just hauled a disgruntled and barely conscious man out the door in cuffs, leaving just her.

       The younger man across from her fidgetted under the sharp eye of scrutiny. His hands balled up in his jacket pockets. Of course, he remembered, he just knew she wouldn’t believe any of it.

     Instead, he said, “I guess so. I mean, I just heard yelling and thought someone may be hurt. I guess when I barged through the door, it took the guy out. It sounded like he smacked the floor pretty hard.”

        She eyed him up and down as she looked at the notes. The gas station clerk had barely given her anything reliable to go off of in all his jittery rambling. The video was such bad quality that it was of no help. Now, a shabby-looking man about her own age wanted her to believe that he knocked the robber out by opening a door.

      “Okay, let’s just start at the basics, Mr…Finn, right. You were turning the corner on your way back from a walk, at 2a.m., when you heard a yell. You ran down the street to see what was happening and heard more commotion from this gas station. You rushed through the door, rendering the assailant, that you had not seen up to that point, unconscious. Is this sounding right so far?” she asked.

       Finn nodded and agreed, “That about covers it, officer Fields.”

     She arched an eyebrow and asked, “You do realize that the doors are completely glass. There is no way that you wouldn’t have seen him if he was close enough to have been hit with one.”

       Finn glanced back at the door with a nervous and said, “Well, it is late. I’m honestly running on adrenaline and nerves right now.”

       Lousy luck, karmic justice for his lies, plain old coincidence, or whatever else you wish to call it finished striking his story apart as the store clerk cleared his throat. His hands had stopped shaking, and his fear was obviously settling down as Officer Fields turned towards him. The man offered his two cents and said, “He was holding a flashlight or something when he came in. I think it distracted the guy.”

       “A flashlight?” she asked. The guy nodded and said, “Yeah, just before the door burst open, it shined through like a spotlight or something. Next thing I know, the dude was laid out, and this guy was just standing here telling me I should call the cops.”

        Finn sighed as she turned back towards him with an expectant look. He stood awkwardly, grasping for straws in his mind. After all, it’s not every day that the person you save rats you out.

     He decided to go all-in on a desperate bid and started his newest story, “I think he must mean there was a reflection on the door when I shoved it open, you know, ’cause it’s all glass. I bet it caught one of the fluorescents just right. I don’t even have a flashlight on me, heck I don’t even own a phone.”

       “Nah, man, I’ve worked here for two years on this shift. These lights have never been that bright. Plus, this was fast, it was a split-second and boom, dude was out of it,” the attendant pushed.

       “Maybe a car passed by, or maybe one started up and took off. He had to have a getaway car, right? I mean, he is a criminal, but surely he’s not that dumb!” Finn pushed back with his own argument.

       “He was dumb enough to get knocked out with a door,” the attendant pointed him. Finn stared in shock as he processed the fact that he had saved this man for this. Not a simple “thank you” or anything.

      Officer Fields was giving him another hard look up and down while he squirmed once more under the pressure. He scratched the back of his left hand with his right as he said, “Well, I guess I really can’t argue with that, but let’s proceed. I have no clue what the flash was, but I’ll be happy to help in any way I can, officer.”

      As he talked, he edged his hand up to the old analog watch hidden by his jacket sleeve. Officer Fields started her response, talking about how she was grateful and that she needed full cooperation. He nodded his head as he hooked the edge of the glass plate that covered the face and hands of the watch with his fingernail.

      Then she started in with an apology as she said, “Look, I’m sorry, I know I’m pushy and overbearing. It’s my first real shift without having to be a ride-along. This is the first time I’ve been trusted to actually handle something. I cannot mess this up.”

       A part of Finn actually hesitated as he felt the glass plate shift just before it popped out. That small part died as soon as he heard the glass hit the floor in the silence. He pushed the minute hand back and watched as his environment folded in on itself before expanding as somewhere different this time. He was outside on a dead little street just around the corner. The exact spot he had been only twenty minutes ago.

      He poked out on around the corner to see Officer Fields come out looking wholly downtrodden and with her radio in her hand. Again, he felt wretched. He watched her lean against her patrol car, still hesitating to use the radio in her hand. He looked down at the now useless watch with twisted hands and a scorched face.

      He looked back the way he had come. It would be so easy to just leave. Let the officer and ungrateful attendant wonder what happened for the rest of their lives. They’d have no memory of him, nothing on camera, or even notes. No idea if it was a man or woman, young or old.

     No explanation or witnesses to back up the attendant’s claims. Sure that the robber would still be convicted. However, the lack of an answer would still stand out. Her chief would undoubtedly be peeved, and she would probably have to bear the brunt of the repercussions for his decisions.

      He groaned at his own stupidity as he completely rounded the corner and started off towards her. The argument weakly persisted inside of himself. There was still the choice to just leave. Even the words on her notes will have disappeared and his image on the cameras. 

     It would be like a ghost did it all, he might even become a suburban myth. The Phantom Vigilante! Yet here he was jogging towards her with waving arms.

      She looked up at him in confusion as he came to a stop and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt you. I was passing by when all that mess in there happened and got scared and took off. I bet I had run halfway across the city before I realized how dumb I was being. You need a statement or something I bet.”

      “Yes, it’s a good thing you thought about your mistake, too,” she said and softly added, “Thank you for coming back, though, you’re doing the right thing.”

       So the tale started off how he was just an innocent bystander that was on the other side of the street when he saw the robbery taking place. Of course, in the story, he was just a coward that stood frozen as another person, someone brave with a hood on, charged through the door and took down the criminal in one move with some quick thinking.

     “I see, well, thank you very much, Mr. Finn. You did the right thing by coming back. Your statement may be a big help if I can even begin to piece together who this other guy was. One last thing, do you happen to know if this vigilante was wearing really round glasses by chance? I think I may have found a lens on the ground,” she said.

      Finn slowly shook his head and said, “Well, um, I don’t really know. It’s dark and all, and he was running on the other side of the street. I guess I really couldn’t tell you if he was wearing glasses.”

      She nodded and asked, “Right, actually, one more last thing, I’m sorry. Could I have some contact info for you? In case there’s anything else we need clarification on.”

       “That’s really not necessary, is it? I don’t even have a phone after all,” he tried to weasel out of it.

     She stopped him and said, “It’s necessary. An address will do just fine, sir.”

     He sighed and gave in as he gave out his address and was bid a good night. He shuffled off back down the street as soon as the option to leave came up with barely a goodbye or good luck. Even kicking himself as hard as he could for going back, but he still felt it was the right thing. A sickening feeling weighed in his gut that this was not yet over.

Is it really burn out?

    Can’t focus on something you love to do, such as writing? Convinced that you have reached your limit and just burned out on it? What if I told you that is not the most probable case?

      I had to fight my way through this very realization during the last couple of weeks. I was scared that I had pushed myself too hard and killed my own joy on my biggest WIP to date, The Rose Chronicles Book 2. I finished part one and was going over it when I noticed that my drive to do it was gone.

      I went through the motions, sure. I tabbed to the document. The pages would be reread. Then nothing. I wasn’t changing or cleaning up any of my writing, which is the whole point of editing!

      Then came a fateful moment, I had to restart my computer. Now, anyone who uses their computer for hours every day knows this isn’t something we often do. It’s normal to throw it in sleep mode and walk off. Nope, I restarted it to update and subsequently had to reopen all of my old tabs. Do you know what I found when I opened my Google Docs?

      I found not one, not two, but five(5!) WIP files. All the different projects that I fully intended to work on simultaneously! Four of the five were long anticipated works that I already knew would be long term goals. I’m talking series.

     I wasn’t burned out. I was overloaded. There were two many irons in the fire. My brain worked on them all day and night while I could only write on one. Storm clouds cleared and the sun was shining on me in my moment of realization. It was a revelation, an epiphany even!

       Then the clouds came back because I didn’t know what to do about it. I had identified the problem, but I still had no solution. So I took a different approach. I decided to apply the snowball effect to my WIP’s.

      I found the smallest of the five, a children’s story idea I had rolled around for the better part of a year. I remember making the original file for it, typing in a temporary title. Then I forgot about it as I thought. This would be my smallest writing project, 1k words was my goal for a first draft.

      I dug out the notes I had for it, opened that file, and got to work. At the time of writing this post, that was twenty-four hours ago. I now have a completed, rough first draft for my children’s book to shelve and think on. In a single day, I knocked out something I had avoided like the plague because I had convinced myself I was burning out.

     Tonight I will be continuing my next smallest project, the first in a series of novellas. I have roughly 10k words left to wrap up the first one, but I had set it aside months ago. I thought I had to finish my next big one before I lost my drive. I hope to have it drafted and shelved in the next 2-3 weeks. That puts me back to a more manageable three WIP’s.

     I wasn’t burned out. I was tired, tired of not making progress, or finishing anything. Too many things had pulled me in too many directions for too long. I was stretched thin.

     So, before you give yourself up to the thought of burn out, please ask yourself: is it actual burn out? I’m willing to bet the answer is a resounding no. It’s okay to be tired and need some time to breathe, but don’t give up on your goals.

THE GIRL IN THE WATER

The gusting wind pushed on the young couple making their way down the seaside bluff. The cold air dried-out their throats as they breathed through the smiles; the black sea spread out below them. A small coastal town was visible across the inlet, ready to welcome them back when they finished their little hike.

They rounded the bend of the winding path as she grabbed his arm and exclaimed, “Nick, look over there!”

A tail glimmering in sun could just be seen slipping under the water. It was as large as a dolphin’s but shined blue like an oil-slick. Then it disappeared.

“I thought you said we probably wouldn’t see any dolphins this time of year,” she teased. Nick grumbled playfully before countering, “Hey, I just know what the internet told me on the drive here.”

The two waited a minute more to see if the strangely colored animal would resurface but gave up as another powerful gust shoved at them. He urged them onwards, ready to be off the cliff, and maybe out of the wind on the beach below. The pebble and seashell filled sand made a satisfying crunch as they took their first steps onto the beach.

“You gonna help me find shells?” she asked, squeezing his hand. He opened his mouth but hesitated before saying, “Actually, I’m going to watch the water. Maybe that thing will come back, want to see?”

She was already glaring at the ground, looking for the perfect shell. He tried again, “Lynn? Did ya’ hear me?”

“Yeah, go, do your thing. I’ll be around here,” she gave one final squeeze to his fingers and a peck on the cheek before pulling away entirely.

He smiled and focused on the waves rolling in as soon as her back was turned. A little rock outcrop provided him a dry seat to watch from, deeper water just in front of him. His phone sat out with the camera app open. He would be ready.

Nick leaned forward with his elbows propped on his knees when a few specks of cold saltwater to spritz his face and neck. He wiped them off only for more to hit. Splash, wipe, repeat. The small droplets thrown by the waves grew increasingly more annoying.

After several rounds, a good handful of water hit him, followed by laughter in front. He peered down and over the rock to see a little girl getting ready to splash him again. Her thin black hair was plastered to her and her skin was deathly white.

He quickly crawled forward on his hands and knees and said, “You’re going to be sick. Where are your parents?”

She nodded back down below the water and laughed as she splashed him again. He stretched a hand down, ready to pull her out. She grasped his hand warmly with a smile. The warm, wet hand holding his was a small concern compared to the numerous needle-like teeth behind her smile.

A startled cry barely escaped his lips before she yanked him down into the cold water. He fought under the water, unable to scream or splash as she dragged him further under and away from the shore.

Ashore, his newlywed wife finally returned from her shell hunt along the beach to find her groom missing. Lynn yelled for him until getting her phone out and angrily tapping his contact. Still laying on the rock, his ringtone led her straight to it, but he was nowhere to around.

The afternoon wore on, police were called, a missing person’s report was filed and added to the ever-growing stack. Lynn pushed for more to be done. The police insisted that nothing would come of it. Washed out to sea, fallen in never to be seen again, the list of excuses was unending. It happened all the time, after all.

Finally, she got them to bring out a search dog. Without fail, the canine returned to the rocky outcrop time and again. No matter where they searched along the beach when it picked up Nick’s scent, it headed straight for the rocks.

There came the point that the dog was loaded up, and the officers stopped the search. Nick Fir was eventually listed as lost at sea, and the world moved on, except for Lynn.

Struggles on the Written Road

Let me start with some comfort, every writer/author/storyteller has had problems arise. That thought always helped me when I was first starting. That’s not to say everyone has the same problems, but like-minded people understand where you’re coming from.

Without further delay, let me introduce you to my little gang of problems. The ring leader for me was a pretty common one. Impostor Syndrome. This caused, and still causes at times, me to just lay my head on the desk and quit. Thankfully I was able to get back up. I did so through sheer stubbornness most of the time.

There’s also the blessing of good beta readers to pull you through. These people can be blessings in disguise if you find the right ones. They can tell you what is wrong with your story from a reader’s point of view while not tearing you down over it. They offer criticism, sure, that’s what you asked them to do, but a good beta reader will also do it in a way that is helpful not harmful.

Next up would respectively be: Time. No, not some obscure concept of branching timelines, or trying to figure out time travel theory for your story, just normal old time and the lack of it. Just as many other writers started out, I couldn’t justify my writing to my finances. Sure, my bills were paid but savings were still nonexistent.

My terrible solution? I stopped for almost two years. My wife and I busted our butts and finally reached a point that we could breathe. She was stable in her career while I worked my way into a new one. Now it was my turn. I wish I could say I pushed through and pulled out of it by writing more, but I didn’t. We both worked, a lot, to get her set up. Then we finally got to swap focus again and get me to a point that I self-published my first book.

It’s not the daydream solution we wanted, but we did what we had and made it work. A lot of reaching the next goal is just that. Look at your situation and ask yourself what your options are. Writing is a long-term, probably life-long, endeavor. Don’t rush to give up. Instead, work, fight, and set yourself up to reach your goals. My only big regret from solution was that I wasn’t smart enough to spend my lunch breaks writing while I wolfed down a sandwich, that would’ve been a little writing.