Monday, September 17, 2007

Staring at the blank page…

By Christie Kelley

Based on the title most people would think this was just another blog on writer’s block. Nope, not this one. I don’t have writer’s block with my current work in progress. But as I sat down last night to write this blog, I had nothing to say. Really!

I started one blog on Fall but only wrote three sentences before I decided it wasn’t any good so I deleted it. Then I was about to write something on a more “writerly” topic. I have nothing to say there either. So, now I’m just rambling.

I think the real issue is I’m feeling a little burned out and not from writing but from not writing enough. Does that make any sense? Work has been so busy lately and now the kids are back to school so there’s all the craziness that brings. Plus, we’re getting ready to do a major renovation to our house so I have to pack up almost everything. Needless to say, I have written almost nothing in past month (not a good thing when you have a deadline staring you in the face).

So I have two rooms left to finish packing up, and then I plan to schedule a day to myself. A real day off to help me relax and think about writing again. Once that’s done, I have to schedule some writing days with no interruptions (okay, as few as possible).

Burnout effects everyone but I’m wondering how other people handle it.

What do you do when you’re so busy with everything you can’t remember the last time you had a day to yourself? How do you cope with the craziness of days?

For the writers here, does not getting enough writing time make you cranky? It certainly does me, just ask my family.


Andrea said...

Oh, what I would give for a day to myself.... They are finally opening a bookstore (B&N) right down the road from my house and I can't wait to go there and chill for a little while. I love my family, but sometimes you just need to get away.


Caren Crane said...

Christie, I feel the pain of your insanity. We are experiencing the fall craziness at my house, too! Writing time is getting carved out--pounding on the AlphaSmart while waiting for the kids to finish up whatever activity they are at. I almost look forward to the day my now-14 can drive. Almost. *g*

I usually deal with the insanity by finding one obligation a week I can say "no" to. Though it is a bit guilt-inducing, it's necessary. So, I might skip a Girl Scout leader meeting, take my AlphaSmart and go write at Caribou for an hour.

I do get unsettled when I can't write. Those voices in my head need an outlet, after all! My family isn't perceptive enough to know that is the problem, but they know to stay far, far away until I've written something. *g*

Anonymous said...

When I'm in the middle of a project, I ACHE to write. It's like a serious physical pain. I usually get 1/2 - 1 hour in the morning and 1/2 - 1 hour at night and I think about it all day long. I have to be super organized to find time to write, and there's definitely no time for slacking. If I had a day to myself? would be bliss. I would sit down at the computer and just write and write and write...

When I finish a book, I usually give myself some downtime before I start something new. And the funny thing is that no matter how crazy and stressful things are when I'm writing, I miss it immediately. I feel aimless. I wander around the house cleaning up behind people, even before they're done with whatever it is I'm cleaning. I try to read but feel out of sorts. I bug my kids. They bug me. We bug each other. You get the idea.

My heart goes out to you Christie! I hope you get that remodel done quickly and can get back to your computer!!

hugs, Cucumber Lady

It's a crazy life, but someone's gotta live it! :-)

Hellie Sinclair said...

YES! It makes me very cranky not having enough time to write!!! I finally got to write some on Saturday and it was wonderful... *sighs* Which was weird, because a lot of Saturdays I have most of the day to devote to writing, but I find myself napping or reading a novel...but this Saturday, I was doing like three or four other things--and then we got home, and I was, "I have to write!" and I wrote for four hours.

I almost get more done in less time allotted me.

Unknown said...

Oh Andrea,

Get out an enjoy that B&N. Everyone needs some time away from the family. Have a cup of coffee for me.

Unknown said...


My family doesn't get it either. You'd think by now when I say I'm cranky they would be handing me my laptop and telling me to go down to the coffee shop for a few hours. Hmm, can you tell I live with boys and one man.

And I have only a year until my oldest can drive. It's a very scary thought.

Unknown said...


Thanks for support. Unfortunately, this remodel is huge (doubling the size of the house) so it's going to be a good six months.

And I really must have missed something since I have no idea why you signed off as cucumber lady.

Unknown said...

mshellion, YAY for you! I'm glad to see someone is getting some writing done.

Buffie said...

With two boys in the house I rarely have a moment to myself, let alone a day. Life has become too crazy -- I feel like I am honking at my own tail lights :)

But "my time" is coming. It's actually next weekend when Andrea and I will be attending the Moonlight and Magnolias Author Signing here in Atlanta. It will be so nice to be with another woman who loves romance as much as I do.

Joan said...

I'm like Kirsten. When I want to write and can't it's like an ache inside me.

It's especially acute if I am on a roll with my story and then BAM...2 days straight working 12 hr.days and I have to WAIT!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Christie, I sooo identify with you. I used to lock myself in the bathroom so I could get, not peace and quiet, but a little privacy without a jam-smeared face or messy diaper awaiting me.

Sometimes you just have to say to your significant other: I need a break. You're going to give it to me on such and such a day at such and such a time. Men can be so clueless.

But speaking from the voice of experience, I tell you that this will pass and you will have your day. I promise.

Andrea said...

Buffie, I can't wait either! I'm so looking forward to the M&M signing. We'll have a blast! :)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

For a quick pick-me-up Aunty recommends a pedicure. I have one about every six weeks or so and they are WONDERFUL! Takes about an hour because a little foot, lower leg massage is included. AH, heavenly!

Best of all, during the hour I can sit back in the chair that also gives a back massage and day dream about my current WIP, or seeing my book on the shelf, or one of my Lust Objects... Best short-term treatment for burn out that I know!

My sympathies on the remodel, Christie. And to everyone dealing with back-to-school madness. Jo-Mama is right, all this shall pass eventually. 'Til then, a little me time (and hanging out in the lair) is not just nice, it's ESSENTIAL!

And you can tell your families Aunty Cindy said so! ;-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie -

When life gets too crazy I grab a book and go read, it takes me out of the insane world and into a romantic one - then I can deal with whatever life throws me.

When I'm stuck on my WIP, or can't find a thing to write about - I pick up a book and read. Can you see a theme here? Seriously, a writer friend of mine who listened to me whine about not being able to write my way through the middle of a book said "you're not reading enough." She was right!

I do get cranky if I can't find time to write. Part of it is the need to lose myself in my fictional world and part of it is the need to know I'm making progress on those deadline commitments! That anxiety alone will drive me to a book.

Unknown said...


I understand completely. I have two boys too. Have a great time at M&M. I've heard this is wonderful conference and maybe one of these days I'll get to it.

Unknown said...

Jo and Joan,

Thanks for the comments. The bathroom would be a great place to lock myself in but staring at the 2x4s just doesn't cut it :)

I know this will pass hopefully sooner rather than later. I have Thursday morning scheduled to meet two of my writing friends for coffee. I can't wait!

Unknown said...

Auntie Cindy,

Love the pedicure idea but I just had one 3 weeks ago :) Amazingly enough, my toes still look good.

And Donna, love the pick up the book and read idea. I need to do that far more often that I do. Before I started writing I could read 2-3 books a week. Now I'm lucky if I get that many done in a month.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

ah...writing time. For me it fluctuates. Some days, I get out of bed at 8 am and answer e-mails and write a few hours. Nap at noon-4, crawl out of bed, swim or walk, eat to work.

Other days I crawl into the house long enough to read the Bandit blog, comment and find the bed! When I get out of bed (3 pm or so) swim or walk...then write until dinner or hubby comes home. Then from about 10 PM til 2 am I can write in the dark with only the IPOD and dog to keep me company.

You'd think I get tons of stuff done? Right? Well, it depends on which book I'm writing or researching. Oh yeah, then there's that TBR pile...:)

Susan Sey said...

I'm with Jo-Mama on the hiding in the bathroom thing, & I'll take it one (embarassing) step farther. Sometimes I actually read in the shower. That's right, the SHOWER. It can be done if you hold the book up high enough & turn the shower head down far enough. It's the only place in my entire world that I can count on maybe ten minutes without a kid on my leg. And as a stay at home mom with two little kids & a husband who travels a great deal for work, let me tell you, those ten minutes are absolutely necessary. Maybe all my favorite books are warped & water damaged, but it's a small price to pay for some mental health & personal space.

Although, a little off-topic? I find that when I'm writing I can't read very much. I start sounding like whoever I'm reading. Does that happen to anybody else? Can you go through your old manuscripts & say, "Ah, the Nora Phase, with a little Crusie & a dash of Evanovich." Or is it just me??

Susan, bandita newbie

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, yeah, Chrisie, I get really crazy if I don't get enough writing time. Kirsten, had to LOL about you cleaning up before they were done "messing" - I do that too if I've not got time to write but need to. The voices in the head...oh, yeah, they just clamor louder and louder... My DH calls it "the Look" and knows that I'm getting totally stressed out by not having time to get these...ahem..interesting people out of my head. :> Like Christie and Buffie, I've got the 2-boys-one-dh-male-dog Testosterone Zone going on. And the laundry? How the heck can two little boys make THAT much laundry??? My work/mom schedule limits my writing time some, but mostly I think I need to leave the house to write more than I do. I can see too many "undones" lurking if I stay home too much. I'm trying to figure out a go out to work/stay home and work schedule that will keep me pouding out the pages. :> Susan, I've done that read in the shower thing too - precious time! - and have some of those water-spotched books myself. Grins. Sometimes it is the ONLY place to get a bit of peace. Great topic, Christie, for someone who didn't think she had one! Snork.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, yes!!! Great post, Christie. I get very cranky when I'm not writing enough (which probably explains why I'm cranky a lot!)

A writer friend and I always joke about our mythical cabin in the woods, where we could live until the book was done. Maybe when the kids are older...

I looked at the blank page in your picture and it spoke to me of a million possibilities, not writer's block, so I think I will write today, no matter what it takes! I'm starting a new book today, always my favourite thing next to handing in a finished one.

Helen said...

I love days to myself when I can sit down with a good book and get lost in another world. My children are all adults now but I have two grandchildren who visit often I love having them but also love it when they go home and I can get back to my reading. I work five days a week and have Friday and Saturdays off I have to get the shopping done and some housework then I read as much as I can. When things get really busy I just tell everyone that I am going to read for the day and they know to let me have this time to myself and then I will be happy again. Great post Christie.
Have Fun

Unknown said...

I love this blog! It's great to post personal things, like my crankiness, only to discover how many others have the same issue.

My husband heads out of town for two days which means I have the house to myself (during school hours--he works from home). I am determined to finish going through my first five chapters and write chapter six.

Unknown said...

In all my crankiness, I forgot to post my good news! My book is up on Amazon for pre-orders. I couldn't believe it when I saw it a couple of days ago.

Beth Andrews said...

I also get cranky when I don't have time to write. Here, things are finally settling down after a super hectic summer which gives me plenty of time to write while the kids are in school *g*

Congrats on your book being up for preorder, Christie!!

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, congratulations on the Amazon pre-order thing. I remember that was one of the (many) milestones that made it all seem real. Although I never REALLY believed it until I held the final version of my book in my hands.

That was a great post! I remember doing Coleridge at university and thinking he wrote some great poetry about not being able to write poetry. I think you fall into a similar category!

What do I do to refill the well? If it's warm and I don't have long, a swim really clears my head. Something about the water. I can't work out how an earth sign (Virgo) can have such an affinity with aqua! If I've got a while, I have a reading binge. I've promised myself one of those once I get this book in in a few weeks. I can hardly wait! And Donna's book will be here by then. Yum!!!