Life as a Writer

I Cowrote a Book in Nine Days and Now I’m in Withdrawal

Hello, friends. I have a confession. I’m going through withdrawal.

No, not from drugs. My strongest indulgence is the occasional cup of coffee. I’m in writing withdrawal.

I don’t know if other writers talk about this. I know everyone talks about the “book hangover,” when you finish a book but are so stuck in its world that you can’t function and you can’t start a new book.

Well, I’m having a book hangover—from a book I wrote.

My friend Hope Bolinger and I finished a 60,000-word YA novel in nine days. It was a whirlwind, especially since we both have jobs and internships to balance with that, but, boy, was it fun. I was in the zone.

Now it’s done, and my brain is moping.

Writing is a high. Your fingers are flying, your brain is spewing new ideas, you’re falling in love with new characters—then suddenly your supply is cut short. With the words “The End,” you go into panic mode.

Or at least I do. And here was my ridiculous process:

  1. So the next day I read the ending over about five times, nitpicking at it, editing it. I bounced around in the document, looking for something to edit. Nothing right now. We need input from editors or beta readers before we make any changes.
  2. I started nitpicking our book proposal. But Hope did an amazing job, and after adding some details to our synopsis… that was done.
  3. Then I came up with a plot concept for the sequel. Hope liked it. So I went in depth and wrote a two-page plot for book two.
  4. But Hope has more self-control than I do and is devoting her time to things that actually matter, like editing her upcoming novel (Den, coming from Illuminate YA in spring 2019), working (I probably should be doing that too), and writing the sequel for Den (you know, the book that’s actually getting published and isn’t a nine-day fling). So, no sequel writing for us yet.
  5. I did some actual work I hadn’t done the day before because of writing.
  6. I wrote a blog post (“I’m Overweight… And That’s Okay”) and posted it at one in the morning.
  7. I stared at the ceiling.
  8. I started scrolling through villain memes.
  9. I started scrolling through Facebook.
  10. I finally slept.
  11. I woke up and moped.
  12. I worked on my NaNoWriMo novel and wrote quite a bit more than my word goal.
  13. I hung out with my dad, acted like a semi-normal human being, and watched a movie.
  14. My dad went to bed.
  15. I was now alone with my brain.
  16. I worked on real actual stuff I’m supposed to be doing, like writing cover letters and going through submissions.
  17. I stared at my computer.
  18. I got up and wandered around the house.
  19. I stared at the pantry.
  20. I decided I wasn’t hungry.
  21. I stared at my dresser. For an awkwardly long time.
  22. I finally put on pajamas.
  23. I stared at my phone. No new notifications.
  24. I sat on my bed and stared at my computer again.
  25. I opened up my “Blog Posts” document.
  26. I started ranting about my problem.
  27. I realized I had no conclusion.
  28. I stared at the wall.
  29. I realized I did have a conclusion, but I had forgotten it.

I will now inform you of that conclusion: writing is a dangerous drug. Here is why:

  1. It will drag you away from things you should be doing.
  2. It will give you a rush, but then you will crash when your supply is cut off.
  3. You will think about it obsessively even when you’re not writing, which may lead to awkwardly staring at people, including strangers.
  4. You will completely lose track of time and forget important things like food, sleep, and occasionally, showers… as well as the fact that humans exist.
  5. You will become obsessed with people who don’t exist.
  6. Did I mention that you will stare at things? You will stare at a lot of things.

Don’t do writing, kids! Once you do writing, you can’t stop. I can say with the utmost conviction that the only thing that cures a writing hangover is writing something else. Especially after I finished a trilogy, and it was over after 375,000 words, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

But you start something else. In which you get equally invested. And obsess over. And act like a crazy person. And it’s a vicious cycle.

Fast forward a week or two, and that’s where we are today.

So, here’s the thing. I found my fix again. It’s my NaNoWriMo novel. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s in my brain right now. So I’m pleased to announce my brain is okay again.

People are going to tell you writing is hard work. I suppose it is. They’re going to talk about forcing yourself to write. Literally every writer Facebook group has at least three hundred and forty-two million “You Should Be Writing” memes. They make it sound like writing is a chore.

False. False, false, false. So many times false. It’s the most addicting drug. It’s an insatiable craving. It’s a thought at the back of your mind, constantly trying to get you to abandon worthwhile tasks and go for an adventure.

I’m an addict. And I see no cure.

Don’t do writing, kids. Just say no.

 

Note: Writing is good. Kids should definitely write. Please do not take this literally.

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