Hello there my lovelies! This week we're hosting a guest blogger— incredibly accomplished author, Lashun Williams, AGAIN! Her guide to a writer’s downfall (as opposed to writer’s block) gives great actionable advice for how to pull yourself through the inevitable period of being less engaged in your writing. I found it very informative, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Lashun Williams is an African-American writer of self-help, fantasy fiction, and romance novels. Her debut fantasy series, Element Princess, was published in 2013 under the pen name Jenaia Williams. She also published her short story Sea Comedies in DG Sentinel in 2023.
Lashun recently graduated with her associates in liberal arts from Southern New Hampshire University and she is continuing her education at Aurora University. She is in the process of completing her memoir and is investing her time in her creative projects. Lashun is also the founder of Greenhouse – A Human Healing Environment. In her free time, Lashun is searching for new types of coffee, watching video game playthroughs, and finding her next series to obsess over.
Where you can find her:
What else you can read/hear from her:
Editing Your Worlds blog, “Advanced Worldbuilding: How to Craft Your World Like A Pro”:https://editingyourworlds.com/advanced-worldbuilding/
My Two Cents blog: “Thirst for Self: A Writer’s Journey to Self-Discovery: https://www.roseraynerivers.com/post/guest-blogger-lashun-williams
The Healing Soul Episode 2: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5361VCq3gprxTtSF8ByJJY?si=v2fAShGOSW-prxxaG2dDOg
The Healing Soul Episode 5: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2g3hZTGexXj7O4sVQ9YeeM?si=A6TINHJ_Rxi5OTENwM5JTw
And her book "Element Princess" is available on Amazon: https://a.co/d/bDOdoos
Thanks for reading my lovelies! I hope you enjoy Lashun's story and I have a special surprise for you next week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
Author: Lashun Williams
Title: Writer’s Downfall: The Soul Collapse of Every Writer
Novice and seasoned writers have heard of the phrase “Writer’s Block.” A popular Google Search result, the phrase is a stable of discussion in the writing world. There are many coaches and specialists that help writers not get trapped in the realm of their own minds to stop their writing progress.
What we’re talking about today is not that. I’ve spent a decade as a professional writer, and I can confidently tell you writer’s block was not an issue. In fact, I experienced an entire catastrophic event that catapulted me to a new topic of discussion, one that many dedicated writers of any field might go through at some point in their career or writing life. That is a writer’s downfall. This process involves every element of your and it brings to question your entire writing life. Whether professionally or personally, you’re called into question why you’re a writer, what made you start in the first place, and you’re forced to sit at the bottom of your entire lifestyle and face yourself. As spiritual as this process is, it’s a phase that is not spoken about. Let me be the first to break that silence.
Differentiating Writer’s Block from A Writer’s Downfall
Mike Rose of Southern Illinois Press defines writer’s block as: “The inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of basic skill or commitment” (p. 3). The countless articles, webinars, and coaches of the writing world will provide lists and tips on how to overcome writer’s block. Although these tips are and can be helpful, a writer’s downfall is not the same thing. This downfall is more than a cycle or period of inability, displeasure, stress, or lack of energy.
I coined the term “writer’s downfall” due to my own experiences as a struggling author, professional writer, and writer of my personal time. To me, writing was more than a hobby. It was my life. I loved writing more than anything. It’s a craft that I was born to do, and I’ll probably die writing as well. My downfall started around 2015 after realizing that not everyone in my community loved writing as much as I did. This lack of resonance spiraled to the professional world, where the plethora of writing jobs never matched with my resume, and I couldn’t get hired to anything other than retail. After publishing my fantasy series in 2013, I intended to find work and complete my series. This did not come to fruition, which added to my downfall. I went to college to obtain my English degree, a feat I didn’t complete either. I aimed to network with other passionate writers through joining writing circles/groups, attending webinars and meetups, and going to online events – I couldn’t afford the conference visits, and when Covid hit, neither could the country.
As you can see, one thing led to another until, ultimately, my career came crashing down. My writing life required me to recognize I was falling. I reached rock bottom after a fall out with a best friend in late 2021, who was a fellow writer, an aspiring author, and a, supposedly, avid supporter of my writing career. She and I mirrored each other so much that it was easy to assume she loved writing as much as I did. I found out that not only were far more different than I thought, but she wrote as a hobby while I aimed to create my entire life around it. My rock bottom was when I realized how much writing meant to me and how disappointed I was to see my world didn’t reflect the level of love I needed to continue writing.
The best way to determine what you’re going through, whether it’s a block or a downfall, is to ask yourself these questions:
Am I starving for something that writing provided me? Am I still getting that need met?
How long have I been a writer, and how long do I want to be one?
If I stopped writing tomorrow, would I miss it?
If I retired from writing, would I be hungry again?
Throughout my entire writing career, did I feel like I was lacking, needing something, desiring for more, or was I content with my process?
Even if I’m content, what can writing give me what other crafts and mediums cannot?
The questions above are more like journal prompts that require further thought, but ultimately, they will highlight how your journey is going and if you’re potentially going through your personal downfall. The word “downfall” is not meant to be seen as a doom and gloom word that means a shadowy representation of your writing or your writing career. It is a downward motion, a decline, if you will, that brings you back to the reason you wrote in the first place. Whether you’re a reader turned writer that aims to publish a book one day or you’ve been a technical writer for several years, and you itch for something more, you can determine your process through these questions and some self-analysis.
The Personalized Process of a Writer’s Downfall
My downfall might be extreme for some, and you know, it really was. For years, I couldn’t bring myself to finish anything. I too thought I was going through writer’s block, figuring that “every writer goes through this at some point.” It took me till earlier this year to realize I wasn’t going through a “block.” I was depressed. Depression is considered a reason why someone goes through a dry spell, but for me, I don’t consider depression to be a stopping force for me. Writing is such a passion for me that I write some of my best work when I’m depressed. When I’m anxious, I’m writing. When I’m excited, I’m writing. So, no. I was going through something different.
From January 2023 to March 2023, I combed through my memories and noticed several key elements that led me to think I should stop writing:
I can’t finish any projects.
Fear of ridicule.
The statement, “I don’t have anything new, so I shouldn’t put myself out there.”
“I sound repetitive. I should probably stop.”
Sound familiar? These insecurities and doubts are examples of a “block” if you will, but there was more than that going on here. I knew I could write, and I knew I could finish projects. Further personal inspection revealed that I actually have no problem finishing projects, and that I don’t sound repetitive. Throughout the course of ten years, I’ve accumulated a decade’s worth of crap from other authors and less inspiring peoples, and it plastered itself to my life. That is an element that leads to a downfall.
In my upcoming memoir (no release date yet), I define a writer’s downfall as, “the acceptance of the depressive and destructive nature of the writer’s journey in which the writer accepts the reality of their emanant truth, whatever the truth may be. Sometimes, your downfall might lead you to retiring from writing and getting into another hobby or career. It’s a soulful process that plummets you to the bottom of yourself, and forces you to look somewhere; whether that’s looking up, sideways, or to the ground, you identity what brought you to this point in the first place. A writer’s downfall is not meant to discredit, invalidate, or shed hate on how you have been or are a writer. It is a process that sheds light on who you are, why writing is/was ever important to you, and what it did/does to you now. Although my downfall was catastrophic and soul shattering, I’d expect every passionate writer to go through or might go through a process similar to this. Whether it takes months or years, like me, you will determine whether you went through a writer’s downfall or if you suffered with a prolonged block.
My recovery process took months. I don’t hate that it did. In fact, I relearned more about myself than I ever had before. I ended up being a guess blogger for My Two Cents and for Breyonna Jordan’s blog, “Editing Your Worlds”. I was a guest speaker and co-host for Debbie Belnavis-Brimble’s podcast, The Healing Soul Podcast, and I even started my memoir in early 2023. My downfall led to many years, questions, and lots of therapy. I remembered statements that I told myself at the beginning of my journey:
“Writing is my life.”
“I love writing more than anything.”
“I want to be around other passionate writers.”
“I don’t publish bullshit.”
These statements stuck with me since I decided to take my craft seriously as a teenager. Not every writer might love writing as much as me, but that doesn’t mean I should let discouragement deter me from my love and purpose.
Your recovery process might require more excavation. Firstly, determine whether you’re going through writer’s block or potentially falling. Second, take your time through this combing process. Some desires and reasons are not so easy to find. See why writing saved you, defended you, or even how it ruined your life – that’s a thing, too. Thirdly, consider that the acknowledgment of your downfall now requires you to do something about it. This no longer becomes an issue you can sweep under the rug. You must act and be a participant in your own life and career.
My recovery requirements mainly involved a lot of the personal requirements I was already doing to improve my life and my mental health. For my writer’s lifestyle, I needed to recognize that not everyone in my immediate circle read my work or even acknowledged it. Also, recognizing that being friends and connecting with other writers and authors doesn’t mean we’re compatible. That might be old news for some, but it was news to me. So, recovery requirements for my writer’s lifestyle were:
Befriend other passionate writers and test them. A good writer can sparkle up their bio and resume, but a passionate writer will shine through without the need for sparkles. Their passion and fire burns and enhances you as you read their work or listen to their podcast.
Determine who you write for. Content writers, social media specialists, influencers, and authors understand the premise, “write for your audience.” I accepted that I write for myself. I’m confident in my writing, and I know my work can meet the requirements of the industry while I am giving an honest and authentic story that I’m proud to publish – “I don’t publish bullshit.”
Befriend who you want to be. I’m intimidated by 6-figure authors who publish books once or twice a year, who can craft stories out of thin air and their publishers adore them. So, I follow these authors on Facebook and Instagram, and I engage with them. I’m currently intimidated by Sarah J. Maas, because duh. Publishing book after book is where I want to be, and it’s a goal I aim to achieve.
Consider how the rest of your life can reflect or complement your writing life. Writing comes first. It’s that simple. Thankfully, I don’t have kids or any other responsibilities, but if those times arise, writing will still come first. Even as a teenager, when tests and friendships threatened to take my time, writing my series still came first. I’d run to a computer lab, I’d tell my friends, “not this weekend”, or I’d write for an hour or two, sometimes for 30 minutes, and life would continue. Some people assume that “writing time” requires you to be stuck in your room for hours on end. This romanticized ideology is doable and quite romantic, but putting writing first simple means, “everything else comes second.” I’m making time because I have the right to.
As mentioned, your recovery process is your own and it will require you to do some internal digging. You might need to cut some video game time, or you might need to add it to help you get inspired. You might need to create mandatory D&D time once a week, or you need your entire family to be silent. Find what you need to recover from this downfall.
A Necessary Process?
A writer’s downfall is so much more than “I need a break.” It’s an experience. It’s a whirlwind that started from a single flicker of disbelief, a single voice that told you to stop, and gradually, you find that you’d been a victim of your own voice or even the voice of someone else. It’s a constant pressure in your chest that tells you you’re more than this, but your external world tells you otherwise. The craft of writing is quite magical, offering its own spells and wisdom that are unique to each writer. The best way for you to revive yourself as a writer, whether you continue to be a writer or not, is to discover the reason why you fell.
Mark Rose: Rose, M. (2006). Writer’s block: The cognitive dimension. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press.
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