I’m Not Writing, and it’s Okay.

If there’s one thing we writers hear constantly, it’s “you should be writing.” We say it to ourselves, we say it to each other, we post it in memes and on sticky notes affixed to our laptops: Why aren’t you writing?

Ninety-Nine percent of the time, this is good. It’s our way of keeping ourselves and each other moving forward. Most of us need that swift kick in the backside, or we’ll never close Netflix and write instead.

But there’s an unintended side effect to this beloved cheer–one that can only be felt in dark, lonely corners–it’s guilt. Those corners are infested with it, like a creepy basement crawling with spiders. And we’ve all been there. No one’s a stranger to the dark, lonely corners, though we retreat to them at different times, for different reasons. I’m there right now.

I’ve been drifting in and out of my dark corner for the past year, popping my head in for a day or two here, a week or so there. Sometimes I wanted to stay a little longer, but the guilt got the better of me, so I kept coming back before I was ready. And maybe for a while that was a good thing? It’s hard to say for sure, but what I realized after so many fleeting, guilt-ridden dark corner visits is this: I wanted to go to my dark, lonely corner, but I didn’t want it to be dark and lonely and riddled with guilt-spiders anymore. I wanted to string up some fairy lights, add some bright fluffy floor pillows, and I wanted to be able to interact with my cherished writer friends without feeling like a non-writing phony.

Because the thing is, I haven’t touched my story in weeks. I’ve been a little stressed, a little anxious, a little tired, a little depressed. When I’ve tried to sit down and write, something inevitably interrupts, as though the universe itself is telling me to take a break. That it’s okay to take a break.

So, I decided to do it. Writer friends, I’m sitting here now, writing to you from my cozy little corner, cheering you on from the sidelines while you do what you do. If you’re feeling like me, grab a fluffy floor pillow and join me in front of my Netflix box. It’s okay.

And that’s just it: IT’S OKAY.

Taking a break isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s chalk full of several essential nutrients that writers like us need. Breaks allow us to:

  • clear our heads and sort our hearts
  • indulge in the fruits of others’ creativity (Read! TV! Movies! Music!)
  • get out and enjoy being in nature
  • go on vacation, maybe?
  • curl up beneath a warm blanket and snuggle with kitty or puppy!
  • spend time with our loved ones
  • let ideas percolate
  • put more energy into supporting our writer friends
  • tackle our non-writerly To Do lists
  • focus on our physical and mental well being

See? All GOOD things! Nothing to feel guilty about. Your story will be there waiting for you when you’re ready for it.

As for me, I’ll be back soon. I’m taking the rest of the month to hang out in my corner. The plan after that is to dive back into my story during Camp NaNoWriMo, which seems to me the perfect way to come back after a nice long break. Now… what’s next in my Netflix queue?

2 Comments on “I’m Not Writing, and it’s Okay.

  1. Thank you for this!💜
    I am stuck in my own little corner now with all the creepy-crawly guilties that keep scurrying around….time to sweep them OUT!😉👍

    Depression, anxiety, illness….they’re like a hit squad attacking all at once to take me out of the game. But I can’t waste time feeling guilty because it doesn’t help….and the perpetuating of those feelings could lead to me never wanting to write again!😧

    So yes, let’s take our breaks….heal our minds & bodies…knowing that the writing itch will have to be scratched soon and we’ll be back on track in our own time.😎👍💖

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