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Remembering Kindness

As we move further and further from January 1st, we're all coming up against those pesky resolutions (write more, write less, write slower, write faster). I started out this year (as I'm sure many of you did) with plans to write a book, and write everyday, and write a certain word count. But after two years of grad school, and a harrowing last semester (sixty pages in four days because I, of course, was also working), several draft and revision rounds, and a new manuscript, my brain shut down.
I spent days that turned into weeks sitting in front of my laptop trying to make myself write something that I was really excited about. And it didn't matter that I felt like I was in the right headspace or had a solid outline. My brain refused to engage with words, it refused to let me write, it even refused to let me read. So after a few weeks of struggle I finally said, 'Okay. Maybe I need a break.' And I closed my laptop and didn't make myself write. I let myself be okay with marathoning Arrow and Nikita and watching sitcoms and just not picking on myself for not writing.
I think we talk so often about being kind to your fellow writer and respecting their creativity and ways that non-writers can give us room to do our thing. But we so often forget to be kind to ourselves. We have to produce, we have to be engaged, and for so many of us, writing is our safe zone. It makes us feel good and safe and happy. So giving it up -- that feels weird.

But you should! Writing is work and as good as it feels, it's tough on your brain. Eventually it can't give anymore, and punishing yourself for it only makes it worse. Don't be afraid to be kind to yourself, to forgive yourself for those days when you can't write anything at all, to take care of yourself. Be okay with saying, 'today I'm just going to watch television' or 'today I'm going to take a walk' or 'today I'm going to yell about hockey.' Remember to not just be kind to those around you, but to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. Sometimes it is okay to back away from the keyboard and take a break.
Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud received her BA and MA from a university in DC in English. She is currently working on her PhD. When not writing or studying, she spends too much time on the internet yelling about comics and robots. Her first novel, Mirage, is coming 2017 from Flatiron Books.

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  1. I love this. It's something I've been struggling with myself, actually. After a couple of years of work, I'm very very close to finally sending a project out to query and I just want to be DONE with it. I've been basically working on it daily, but there are some days when it's just... not going to happen. It's not a matter of willpower or anything like that; it's just my brain being unkind that day. I could power through, probably, but it would sour everything, make me less excited, make it that much harder to sit down tomorrow and work. So instead, I give myself a night off to relax and catch up with my DVR. My brain untwists, my mood mellows, and the next night I get my butt in the chair and get to work, recharged. Those nights off are helpful, not hurtful.

  2. This is a great post. Thanks! We are not robots built to bang out word counts or, in the case of illustrators, drawing after drawing. We are flesh and blood and we get tired. I keep reminding myself that just because I don't do something today doesn't mean I will never do it. Today I just might need to relax and focus on another part of my life.

  3. I feel like I needed to hear this, but at the same time, when am I going to make writing a priority? My "Break" is turning into a "famine!" And the guilt cycle continues! Geesh, maybe I need writer therapist! ;)

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