Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Time of Great Forgetting…

It Is Back, Stronger Than Before…

In all my years of watching writers go through this period from April to the middle-end of July, break all streaks, get too busy to write, actually forget about writing and publishing completely, I have not seen a year this bad.

I got a hunch there is one major reason. This is the first spring in two years that we feel (as a population) safe enough to get out and do things in most parts of the world. So wow, all that postponed stuff from the last two years is going to be done this year no matter what.

I get that, I really do.

So the writing, which has been there for the entire pandemic for those who could control it, can just wait. (That is not a conscious thought. Just how our minds deal with it.)

So the focus is on family (as it always should be), vacations, gardens, nice weather, and just GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE.

With writing and publishing, learning goes away, practice and creating words, and publishing anything can be put off, right? Remember all those great intentions from the start of the year? No? You will remember them about August 1st. (grin)

For years I have been calling this time for writers the Time of Great Forgetting. It is very, very real. Professional long-term writers have no issue with this. It only hits those who have not gotten a complete grasp of the business of publishing and the long-term habit of writing regularly. Amazing how five months from the first of the year can change an attitude for those who really wanted to have a great year writing and publishing this year. Professional writers just go right through all this since what we do is write and create stories all the time.

But how to fight this?

The best way is to realize it is happening. Remember your goals. And sometimes reset at the start of every month through this time period. That will get you through it without the entire three months being a total blank. It will be a lot less than you wanted, sure. But it will help. And also help the restart in July or August. That restart is brutal.

So if you are reading this post in April, you still have a lot of time to reset and remember your goals. Target May 1st as a reset point. Doing that will not get in the way of getting out of the house, doing the things you have postponed for the last two years. But it will also take the writing and publishing along through this period as something important.

And on December 31st, when you are looking back at this year, you will be very, very glad you did.


  • Vincent Zandri

    Again, spot on Dean. I mentioned in a previous comment I’ve been doing a cross country thing in Turkey past three weeks. Little sleep, filthy conditions at times, never more than a night or two at the same 2 or 3 star hotel, somtimes with sparase internet or none at all. But still, I managed to write two magazine features, plus maybe 10 ghost pieces for an outfit I work for in LA, and maybe 3K words of fiction on new novella. Not saying this to prove how dedicated I am, but to demonstrate that if you’re doing this for a living, you need not only to have fun at it, but you need to be a professional. So sometimes that means writing with your laptop literally on your lap while traversing some bumpy terrain. You can always got back and correct the spellings later on. Haha….

    • dwsmith

      Vincent, when I was young, that would all sound like fun. At my age now (over 70), that just made me shudder. (grin). Have fun!!

  • James Palmer

    Great points, Dean. I’m actually on a creative upswing at the moment, following a long creative drought. Goals are definitely important. I have some shows I’m doing toward the back end of the year, so that means I need to work now to have new content. Plus I’m planning on running at least one Kickstarter, maybe two, so there’s no time for smelling the roses.

  • guy

    This is why the challenges you offer are so helpful. It’s hard to forget you have a story due at the end of the week.

  • Vera Soroka

    I’ve been writing good this year but the publishing side came to an abrupt stop, even before pandemic. Family stuff happened and then I started putting road blocks in front of the publishing.
    I’m working on the newsletter right now, figuring it out. But hopefully before the month ends, I will publish. I just have to make myself do it. I can’t think of any other way to get over it.

  • Mihnea+Manduteanu

    I wrote 85k words in March but I went blank in April. Hoping to reset May 1st. April was a mean, un pleasant month. Life got in the way.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    Spot on, Dean! Our few cold days with a frost warning overnight are a blessing to my word count. But also, in my case, I am taking a course to become a certified grant writer. I know that it will cut into my fiction some, but I really love the field of environmental remediation. With my technical writing, fiction writing, business, and geology background, it’s a dream job I haven’t realized existed until I interviewed for a project management job in the field and the guys leaned forward, all eager, asking if I can write grants.
    There is a HUGE need.
    And I can do this and make so many projects possible. It pays well, which means the pressure is now off my writing! (Immense obstacle – and it’s suddenly all gone! I can write again because I don’t desperately need the royalties!) I’m already writing grants to learn how, for a friend, for free. Her outfit will start paying me with the next one. The good part, grant writing doesn’t have to be a full-time job for me to make a good living. I will have plenty of time to write fiction, and the jobs I’ve already been on triggered a lot of new ideas.
    The challenge, for me, is to keep writing even at a modest level while I am ramping up what is, in reality, a new business. But since it is a writing business, I carry itb out under the umbrella of my publishing C-corp.

    I work with a lot of young people who taught me some cool tricks to get organized. Now my Google calendar has all my schedules on it, it dings to my phone and watch so I never lose track of time. I use Trello for project management, and have calendar reminders set for those tasks as well. This way I don’t forget to go to sleep om time so I can go for my walk/run in the morning. If I do that, it’s easy to write new fiction as soon as I get civilized afterward. For pay-work, which I can do later, I keep track of time worked using Toggl. It’s free app which syncs with Trello.

    Now, my writing and *overall* publishing schedule has a Trello workspace separate from grant projects. It makes publishing a series and running a Kickstarter for it a lot easier, because I can make a brain-dump of a list of things to do, then reorganize it into logical sections, and expand upon it. It’s graphic in nature, like a digital Kanban board, so my eyes don’t glaze over like when I use spreadsheets.

    But now my phone dinged with a “make dinner” reminder, so I will wrap up this happy saga, and go cook.

    Thank you for reminding us about the Great Forgetting, though. It seems to come with taking the wicker chairs out on the porch!

  • Keith West

    This sounds a lot like what Darren Hardy talks about in his success and business mentoring. Companies are hitting their benchmarks and ahead on goals for the year, and then summer comes, people go on vacations, work slows down, and the next thing they know, they’re behind for the year and never get caught up.

    It’s the same with writers if they aren’t careful.

    My reset will be May 9. Final exams (May 5 and 7) will be over and grades will be in. Until then, I’m focusing on the workshop assignments and as much writing as I can fit in around the day job.

  • Desikan

    Thanks Dean,

    This post was right on time for me.
    I started to drift from what I set out to do this year as a beginner writer and you are spot on with what is grabbing my attention now (grin). I am a following your advice on practice, practice, practice.

    The small adjustments that I should continue to do to keep all the balls in the air is clear. I need to constantly remind myself of that.