It started out as the most exhilarating story you had ever written. There was something magical about the premise and the mere thought of the plot made your pulse accelerate.
Like a seductive mistress it pulled you into its literary arms and in a whisper told you about all the wonderful places it would whisk you away to. It promised you greatness whilst gently stroking your writer’s ego. Life came to a halt as you spent every waking moment writing or thinking about it.
Sadly your literary relationship soon hit hard times. This was caused by your draft not sounding right after five painful rewrites and the discovery of a glaring plot hole towards the end.
Cue your writer’s inner turmoil; long arduous nights trying to write the sixth draft, hot tears, lengthy emails to writing friends, countless cups of coffee, bleak looks, sighs, moans, groans, sarcasm, chocolate binges and desperate prayers to a higher spiritual being.
Some stories should come with a health warning because after a period of intense creative struggle they finally break you.
The story broke you. You sat at your writing desk, tear-stained, sweaty and muttering stuff about how you did not have the strength to carry on, how your story deserved to be written by a more experienced writer and how your story was a life sucking… [enter naughty words of choice].
You whisper “I can’t go on.” With an exhausted expression plastered across your face and aching limbs you shove your story into the folder titled, ‘if I ever see this story again it will be too soon,’ and crawl away.
Why do some stories turn us into this messy and chaotic state?
Why do some stories push us to the edge and then break us?
So how do you survive something like this?
I am no expert but this is how I have recovered from a story which has broken me. There have been a few over the past few years, which have brought me to my knees.
Time is a great healer in this situation. It’s important to walk away from it when you feel like it’s broke you and put some space between you both.
Self care is vital. You need to get your physical and mental strength back. Eat nourishing home cooked foods, wear comfy clothes, go for long walks, read good books and watch favourite films. Take a break from writing it.
Work out why it broke you. This will be hard but you must confront the issue when you are calmer and not so fragile. Is there anything you can do about this? If it’s a writing craft issue can you do some research or perhaps talk to another writer?
Is the story worth continuing? Is it working?
Don’t say you will never return to your story. Mark a future point on your calendar or however long it takes you to get a story out of your system. Tell yourself you will one day return to it when you are ready.
Working on something else whilst you are glueing yourself back together. This does work and helps take your mind off it.
I would like to point out that not all stories break you. Most will give you bearable levels of hair pulling, screaming and creative pain.
However once in awhile you will encounter the story that will push you to the edge of insanity.
Don’t ask me how you spot the stories which have the potential to break you? If anyone knows the answer to this please leave me a comment.
Have you ever experienced writing a story that broke you? Did you go back to it?