What if I never write again?
I haven’t been writing much lately. I suspect this has something to do with my seven month old baby. She’s now taking two naps a day, one in the morning (when I shower), and one mid-day (when I eat lunch). She’s decided she doesn’t need to nap for longer than forty-five minutes, and sometimes even a half an hour is sufficient.
Thirty minutes doesn’t give me much time to write, especially when I’m trying to squeeze a shower or a meal into that time as well. Even when she randomly naps for an hour or more, I have a hard time getting into a project, and more often than not I spend the time answering emails or looking up recipes for dinner. Sometimes I worry I might never write again.
I know what you might say. You might say that I have to make the time to write. You might say that if I’m serious about writing — if it’s truly my passion — then I’ll wake up at 5am or stay up past midnight to get in an hour or two of writing while the rest of my family sleeps.
And you might be right. But I’m just not sure I have the energy for that right now. At the end of the day I’m tired. I want to sit on the couch with my husband and read. I want to go to bed early.
I feel guilty that I haven’t written any new fiction lately. I worry I’m being lazy. I worry that at this rate I’m never going to have a published novel. I worry maybe I’m not a “real” writer.
How much of a priority is your writing?
Maybe you don’t have a new baby, but maybe you’ve just started a new job or are working overtime. Maybe you’re in the process of moving, or getting married (or divorced). Maybe you’re taking care of a sick family member. There are all sorts of reasons why you might not have much time for writing.
Or, maybe you do have the time but you’re having trouble finding the motivation to get writing.
Whatever the reason, just because you’re not writing now doesn’t mean you’ll never write again. (This is what I keep telling myself anyway.)Just because you’re not #writing right now doesn’t mean you’ll never write again. #writerslife #writerproblems Click To Tweet
Writing is a priority for me. But it’s not my top priority. My family is more important. My health and sanity are more important. To be honest, my sleep is more important. When I don’t get enough sleep, I can’t write a coherent sentence anyway.
I’m currently brainstorming ways to make more time for writing: A few hours each Saturday while my husband watches the baby. Some kind of “baby-swapping” situation with neighbors. Doing a little sleep-training to encourage my daughter to take longer naps.
But until I figure out how to make time, I have got to stop worrying that I’ll never write again. I have got to stop stressing out and feeling guilty about not writing. It’s okay. This is temporary.
Here are the things I’m trying to do instead…
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What to Do When You Worry You Might
NEVER WRITE AGAIN
Give yourself a break.
Sometimes writing isn’t your top priority, and that’s okay. Family, friends, health, sanity, and sleep are all perfectly legitimate reasons to put writing on hold. Just because you’re not writing right now doesn’t mean you’ll never write again. Stop feeling guilty – there’s no need for that.
Read the types of books you’d like to write. Reread books you admire. Read just for fun. Reading helps you become a better writer, so reading is a way to work on your writing. Now you don’t have to feel guilty about snuggling up with a novel instead of your laptop!
Write a little something
Maybe you don’t have the energy or time or motivation these days to write a novel, or even a short story. It’s doesn’t mean you’re never going to write again, and it doesn’t mean you can’t write a little something right now. Write a blog post or a poem. Write a well-crafted email. Jot down ideas in a journal. These things may not seem like much, but they’ll keep your writing skills sharpened for when you finally do sit down to create your masterpiece.
Refill your creative well
Writing is informed by your experiences, so basically anything you experience could become a part of your writing some day. Go to a museum, take a walk, talk to a neighbor, watch your baby roll around on the floor. Go somewhere you’ve never been, even if it’s just to a coffee shop on the other side of town. Watch an indie movie. Listen to a podcast or an audiobook. These things may not seem like writing (well, okay, they’re not), but they could spark an idea, or at least stock you with experiences and knowledge that you can use in your writing later.
You’re in the zone with your writing when all of a sudden you need to name a new character, or describe Niagara Falls, or mention the book your protagonist is reading for high school English class. Suddenly, you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole, looking up baby names, searching for images of Niagara Falls, or googling, “high school English class reading list.”
If you’re having trouble right now finding the time or gumption to write, why not get some of this research out of the way instead? If you have ideas for a story, do a little preliminary googling on things you might need or want to know. The nice thing about research is that it can spark more ideas and get you excited about writing – which might help you find the motivation to make time for your writing.
Set small goals
I want to write a new novel, but that’s not my goal right now. There’s no sense in setting myself up for failure. Instead, my goals for the fall are as follows: 1) write 3 to 4 blog posts a month 2) brainstorm ideas for a new novel and settle on a specific idea by the end of November. 3) Enjoy my family and be present in the moment. That’s it. Notice I’m not doing Nanowrimo. Notice I’m not giving myself a daily writing word count goal. But I’m also not letting myself completely off the hook.
Take a writing class (or teach one!)
This might not be the best idea if you’re struggling to find time to write, but if lack of inspiration or motivation is your problem, a class or workshop might be just the thing to get you writing again. I’m going to be teaching a writing class soon at The Writers Center in Bethesda, and I’m looking forward to it because teaching about writing will get me into a writerly frame of mind that will be helpful when I do manage to make more time for writing.
Decide what’s a priority… and what’s not!
You may actually have more time to write than you think. The other day, my husband wanted me to sit with him on the couch after dinner and visit. “I need to do chores,” I said. He sighed. “Is the point of life to do chores?” he asked. “Sometimes I think you think it is.”
And he has a point. Sometimes I choose doing dishes or laundry over writing. Having a clean house is important to me, but is it my very top priority? I can let the dishes sit in the sink for a few hours if it means I get some writing in.
What about you? Are there things you’re doing instead of writing that can probably wait until later?
Revise something you’ve already written
I’ve always found that it takes a little bit less energy and gumption to revise something I’ve already written than to start a new project. Plus, working on something you’ve already written reminds you that you have written in the past… and that you will write again in the future!
Enjoy the present moment
When I’m playing with my baby, I don’t want to resent her for not taking longer naps. I don’t want to sit there wishing she’d go to sleep so I could write. I want to marvel at her babbles and watch her attempts to crawl. She’s not going to be this age forever, and I want to cherish each moment as much as I can.
More than anything, I keep telling myself not to stress that I’m not writing much these days. There’s no sense in living my life feeling guilty. Whenever I start to feel like I may never write again, I tell myself to stop being so melodramatic. Of course I will write again. But my daughter will only be seven months old once – right now.
You WILL Write Again!
The point of life is not doing chores (obviously!), but it’s not hitting a daily writing word count or publishing bestsellers either. All I’m saying is, stop your worrying and enjoy your life as best you can. (That’s what I’m trying to do!) And when you start to worry that you might never write again, take a deep breath and tell yourself yes, yes you will.
What about you? Do you ever worry you might never write again? What do you do when you’re having trouble finding the time or motivation to write?