On Writing Strike…

Stop the presses, Jeannie is writing a blog post!

Hmmm….will there come a time in the near future when peeps won’t know what “stop the presses” even means? There are no presses to stop in the digital media world.

I just got off of my first writing strike, though my writing buddy and talker-off-of-ledges Bria Quinlan claims it was not a writing strike and more like a break between books. But I tell you that it WAS a writing strike and the best thing ever.

I didn’t write for TEN whole days. More to the point, I refused to write for ten days. There was no nagging feeling of “I should be writing” or “I have to write, this next book is due in February” or worst, “OMG, I have to write, but I have no time, energy, brain cells left.”

You see, after turning in the last book, I stoically opened the next WIP and started writing the next book. Just like a career writer does. Just like Stephen King describes in On Writing. Just like a gal who has three more books on contract needs to do. Everything I was writing felt like crap, but that’s okay. It always feels like crap and I’m a reviser anyways. I’ll fix it in revisions.

But something felt different. I could feel it in my fingers…I felt it in my toes. And writing or the drive to write is such a psychological, angsty and neuroses-filled endeavor that you have to trust your feelings. My feeling inside that I just couldn’t shake was that I was empty and every word that I touched would come out bland because you just can’t pretend to be creative and clever when you’re not. (Wow, this last story was uninspired, but maybe no one will notice….)

The writer I am with every new book needs to be at least a little stronger, wiser, riskier or something more than the last and it wasn’t happening. And the reason was because I had been listening to nothing but my own stories, stuck in my own head too long. There were no outside outputs to feed it. Heck, I don’t even watch TV outside of The Walking Dead, Top Chef and Cardinals baseball. (*sigh* Cards. We had a good go of it this year.)

So I took writing off the table and just read. I started picking through my TBR, all the books I wanted to read for so long, but just couldn’t find the time. I needed to enjoy someone else’s ideas, be in someone else’s head, savor someone else’s words so my head wasn’t so boringly me anymore.

Here was my awesome reading list. I just finished my last one — Horde by Ann Aguirre which I pre-bought and planned to read at the end of my strike. I loved reading these stories and I highly recommend going on writing strike if the words aren’t coming.

And to Bria — I know ten days isn’t a lot, but writing strike is a state of mind. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s my head, I’ll mess with it the way that I want. ๐Ÿ™‚

My writing strike reading list with my one line reviews:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This book clicked on so many levels: delicious prose, breathtaking worldbuilding, amazing characters–I hate you Laini Taylor because I loved this book so hard.

The Angel by Tiffany Reisz

Mistress Nora said in Book 1 that erotica is sex plus fear and I definitely agree with this book which pushed boundaries for even a hardcore erotic reader like me.

Outpost by Ann Aguirre

I loved revisiting Deuce and Fade in Topside as they learn how to adapt to civilization and this book is shaping the series up to be EPIC.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

A novel of courtesan houses and Westerners immersed in Chinese culture instead of vice versa which went through several story-telling perspectives and devices, some which worked and some that didn’t for me. But it’s Amy Tan so I cried buckets and hugged my daughter and missed my mum.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A twisted little tale that had me so hooked by the time things started going a bit crazy and left me very unsettled.

Hordeย by Ann Aguirre

Ms. Aguirre, you promised an epic and YOU DELIVERED BIG TIME as I was completely riveted by this conclusion which tied everything up and made me weep and worry and sigh at the end.

So even though it’s November and NanoWriMo time, if the writing isn’t coming, I highly recommend going on strike. As Stephen King states in On Writing: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”


  1. Eve
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 07:59:08

    Me being a municipal liaison, NaNo is obligatory. But I’ve also acquired some reading, and am looking forward to savoring them.

    Gone Girl – The twist in the middle didn’t surprise me because there was a similar twist in another novel I’ve read (also involves a husband, a wife, and an uneasy relationship). The following twists did surprise me though. I can’t say I like the two main characters, and am unsure if this is deliberate on the author’s part.

  2. flchen1
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 14:01:19

    Of your list, I’ve only read Ann’s (and yes, totally agree with you–it was pretty amazeballs!) So glad you had a chance to refill your own reading tank, Jeannie! Hooray for writing strikes! And hope you’re feeling reved and ready to write ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Blythe Gifford
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 14:35:34

    Jeannie: Totally understand the impulse. I’ve made a vow that when the next book goes in, I’m not going to think about writing until after I’ve read ten books. You summed up the reasons why!

  4. Barbara Monajem
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 17:42:47

    Jeannie, I totally relate — in fact, I’m on a writing strike for the month of November. I realized I was burnt out and needed a break, so I’m getting in some much-needed reading, too. It’s pure bliss to read someone else’s stories! Right now I’m reading The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen (a mystery with some romance in it) and Daughter of the God-King by Anne Cleeland, a Regency romantic adventure. Fun!