I've written mostly on, but occasionally off since I was 17 years old and at 25 I'm just now beginning to feel good. I don't have an agent. I have a mostly finished manuscript that is currently sitting on the other side of the couch. I am happy with it. When I think of it at random times during the day, I find myself smiling. Just a few more tweaks and its going out the door. I don't really have a reason to feel so happy with it. I'm unproven. My writing credentials are shockingly bare, but still, there is an undeniable hope that something good is going to happen. I'm writing this because I might need to read it again after I start querying and also because I wanted to know if any of you could explain this feeling. I only have one answer to where it came from and its one that even I have trouble believing.
For years I always put a lot of pressure on myself when it came to writing. First, it was because my best friend had more written than I did, she wrote more than I could, and with better skill that I ever hoped to attain. But as the years passed, my writing skill became greater and the amount written mattered less. The pressure I put on myself never lessened. I was busy with my career and I have a host of other reasons why I stopped, but none of them are really good reasons. During that time I also lost someone very dear to me, learned to live with a little regret, lost a friendship I valued more than I realized, and found this current state of "inner peace." The pressure is gone. The motivation has returned. The joy has once again rekindled. There's only one thing I've done differently. I stopped writing and you should, too.
Think about it. How much time do you spend a day, a week, a month, a year-or even longer for most of us-agonizing the next word in the sentence? Is it really worth it? Are you still in love with writing? Remember that advice your best friend probably gave you about a girl or boy in high school. I can hear them now, "Maybe you should take a break, if its meant to be you'll find your way back to each other." Here's my advice if you're sitting there feeling obligated to write something because you've told someone at some point that you are a writer or someone else said your writing was good. If you're not feeling it, get out. This is your one and only life. If you are putting yourself through so much stress that the reason you started writing isn't still the reason you are writing, stop. Do you really think an agent, publisher, or even your critique group can't feel that strain? Can't feel that you're barely able to put one word in front of the last? That you have no love for this thousands of word habit? They can and it might just be why you're not moving anywhere. If you are stagnant, stop.
This advice does not of course apply to anyone currently loving the book writing thing they've got going. Writing is sometimes about pushing through the parts where it gets hard or you've got some serious writer's block (solve that here), but if you find yourself dreading opening that document or really do have deletitis, then take a break from everything to do with the world you are trying to create and enjoy a little bit more of your one precious life.