Day 26: When Our Writing Goes Off the Rails

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out the main reason I stopped working on my novel, Rapture.  Actually, there were several things that led up to it such as not being able to find my tribe of supportive creatives which I do have now, a bad experience in a writing critique group that was caused by 1 person who took an instant dislike to me, a change in my sleep schedule after my neurologist figured what was causing my insomnia (I would write all night long, sleep an hour or 2, get ready and go to work, come home and start all over again), losing some of my focus because I was working so much, and a few other things.  But the biggest thing was that when all of these other things began happening, my flow just wasn’t flowing anymore so I forced my writing.  It just wasn’t coming from the same natural, organic place that it had been before and my writing suffered.  I tried to blame it all on the change in my sleep schedule and the addition of different sleep meds because I was writing great stuff when I couldn’t sleep.  I likened it to creatives that suffer from mental illness and they say that when they take their meds, they lose their creative abilities.  I suppose it’s a tiny bit like that because late night has always been my time and when that was taken away from me by the meds, it was a jolt to my creativity and I never learned how to channel it any differently.  Before the sleep meds, I wouldn’t really wake up mentally until after 8:00pm.  My neurologist says that on top of my 3 sleep disorders, I am also a night owl and there is no pill for that.  My mother was a night owl too.  She would stay up all night long reading and working puzzles, then fix breakfast for my dad, my brother, and me, take us to school then come home and sleep until shortly before we had to be picked up…she was late a lot.  Then she’d fix a nice dinner and, like me, her pattern would start all over again.  My dad was an early riser, as is my brother and they just jumped into their day.  I, on the other hand, had to be dragged out of bed each morning and then slog my way through the day.  I drove my mom crazy.  But, I think that for parents, the kid that makes you the craziest is the 1 that’s most like you.  It’s hard looking into that mirror.  I come by my sleep issues genetically.  But, as I said, after my natural sleep and writing rhythms were disrupted, I never really learned how to write at times that would be considered normal.  By not retraining my brain and just trying to force the creativity, I sent Rapture off the rails.  I wrote things that even at the time, I wasn’t happy with but I kept on writing.  I got lost and I’m just now beginning to find my way back.  I will have to work on it a lot more but it’s a beginning.  The hard part is going to be sitting down and dissecting Rapture and finding all of the viable pieces and cutting away all the dead weight that I’ve created.  I really believe that once I do that, it will get me back onto the rails so that I can finish Rapture and have it be the book that I first envisioned and not a literary Frankenstein’s creature that I’ve pieced together.  It’s going to be painful but beneficial.  I’ll keep you informed about how the dissection and then the rewrite are progressing.  If you have any tips or words of encouragement, I’d love to hear them!

“Writing is rewriting.  Even when you’ve gotten an agent and an editor, you’ll have to rewrite.  If you fall in love with the vision you want of your work and not your words, the rewriting will become easier.” ~ Nora DeLoach              

About Donna Heilman

I am a writer that lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex with my husband, 2 dogs, and 10 cats. I am currently working on my novel, Rapture, as well as writing poetry and some short non-fiction. I am honestly writing this blog to feel more connected with other creative people.
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1 Response to Day 26: When Our Writing Goes Off the Rails

  1. I wish good luck on your rewrite. You have a hard task of looking at your writing and deciding what you love and what serves the greater purpose of the book you want at the end of the journey. You can do it. We will be there to read it when it is finished.


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