Reflections on 2020

Dealing with writer burnout and what’s next

No one can deny that 2020 was a remarkable year. Not remarkably good, mind you. Simply remarkable. Between the pandemic, the US presidential election, the tragedy of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths (among many others), the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the massive wildfires in Australia and the western United States, it feels like it’s been a decade since January.

Did reading that leave you breathless? That’s about how this year has felt. Every time we thought nothing else could happen, something else did. That list is merely the tip of the iceberg of what this year had in store for us, but I don’t plan to chronicle this entire year. Others with more talent and insight are already doing so.

What I want to cover in this piece is more personal to me, and hopefully will be an interest to those who have enjoyed reading my past pieces. If you follow my writing, you may have noticed a lack of posts since October. At first, I had only planned to take a break in November so I could focus on NaNoWriMo. Besides writing LGBTQ pieces here on Medium, I am also a novelist.

This year I dusted off an older manuscript that I had shelved three years ago after failing to land a contract with a literary agent. The primary critique of the piece was that it was too short to be marketable. In retrospect, they were correct. It was only 72,000 words, while the genre of science fiction demands a length between 90,000 to 120,000 words.

As November drew to a close, I was far from finished with the rewrite, although I met the goal of completing 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. As I spent November rewriting the manuscript, I also realized that the length was only one issue. There were too many missing story beats and plot points, and too often I found sections where I was telling the story when I should have been showing the action. This rewriting exercise has been valuable, and the novel will ultimately be better for it when I’m done.

However, I haven’t jumped back into writing pieces for Medium and I realize I’ve burnt myself out on this platform. In 2019 I was easily posting one new piece every week, so my goal in 2020 was to increase that to two new pieces each week. If you look through my articles for this year, you can see I failed at that spectacularly. My failure was a combination of being too ambitious along with the stress surrounding everything going on this year stifling my creativity.

Taking a step back from writing on Medium these past couple of months has been a welcome relief. It has allowed me to focus more on my fiction writing, and I’ve made decent progress on my novel and with completing a couple of short stories as well.

Where does that leave me regarding my writing on Medium? Let me reassure you, I don’t plan to walk away from this platform. It has allowed me to give a voice to many concerns I have as I continue to progress through my transition. While I know transgender women of color are one of the most oppressed groups in the world right now, transgender men are also under-represented, especially those who transition later in life, as I did.

My biggest struggle this year was to come up with enough compelling topics to write about, although there were plenty of issues affecting the transgender community this year. When I tried to push myself to produce two articles each week, I hit a creative wall and became burnt out. I’m hoping that taking this extended break will recharge my creative batteries and I can get back to posting a new piece weekly. Unless the inspiration strikes, I will not push myself to post more frequently than that.

Thank you to all my loyal followers and readers. I hope that all of you have remained safe and healthy this year, and that we all have a better year in 2021.

Transgender writer and author. I primarily write on LGBTQ issues, with a focus on the transgender community. http://glbalend.com/

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