When I was in high school, I wrote nearly every day during any moment not taken up by school or studying. I threw myself into writing communities, where I learned to take feedback and figured out several ways to give it. By the time I graduated high school, I had already written one million words of fiction. That number still astounds me.
College itself wasn't to blame for the slow decline I pretended I didn't notice. The writing communities I had been involved in for several years disbanded, and while I didn't write for the feedback and praise of others, it was difficult when that was gone. More distractions became readily available, particularly my smart phone. I also started dating, and while that also provided me with more knowledge for writing, it also led to less alone time and less available writing time as well.
Post college graduation, the writing communities had never reformed, the distractions (both from my smart phone and outside of it) had multiplied like rabbits, and my general available free time decreased significantly. My debut novel was written when I was a high school junior five years ago, and it's difficult to find the time to sit down and decide what to do with all my other material.
But perhaps the true reason why I write less frequently is because I edit more often now. Between rewriting an old series, polishing one of the few novels I managed to complete in college, and debating what route to take with the first novel-in-verse that I wrote, there just isn't as much time to write new material. And perhaps that's not a bad thing. After all, why have eighty first drafts and zero ready for publication? But it's easier to see results when writing first drafts, as I can (and have) spent several hours agonizing over just one chapter, even though I usually end up revising the same chapter at least ten to twenty times afterwards. When "rewards" are more difficult to receive or see, it's hard to be motivated, which often leads to zero writing and zero editing as well.
So what do I do about my problem?
Perhaps it's best to not go by all the numbers. Maybe it's best to not track progress on a calendar and feel like a failure if I don't measure up to unrealistic expectations. And instead of letting distractions cut into the little precious free time I have, they should be limited both in frequency and number. I've had trouble admitting to myself that games are becoming an addiction, but is that what I want to be known for? Is that what I want to leave behind?
No. I want to do so much more. My life should benefit others, not myself. Writing is a way to better understand people and to teach others to ponder much deeper things. I cannot continually put in half effort and expect amazing results.
So with all that, where will my writing go next? I cannot only say that time will tell. Rather, it is what I do with the time ahead of me that will really say what will come next.