I Don't Want to Write. Am I Still Meant to Be a Writer?
Every writer has been there. Months, maybe years have passed, and you’re not writing any stories. The first few weeks or months, you write it off as a break, but then overtime it hits you: you really just don’t want to write anything right now.
The first time this happened, I panicked. I found myself thinking “Does that mean I'm not a writer anymore? Does that mean I've lost interest in this passion?”
They are scary questions because they involve asking yourself whether your dream is really something you want, which can create identity issues. If you've always wanted to do something or be something, it takes a lot of power to question whether that dream is still right for you because it means undoing a lot of the purpose that drives you.
Lucky for me though, this isn't the first time I've asked myself this. I first did this over two years ago, before I started my blog, and writing always seemed like the LAST thing I wanted to do. As a result, though I’m worried that I’ve gone a long time without writing both creatively and for this blog, I know deep in my heart I’ll return to storytelling.
However, that doesn’t fix the sickening feeling I have right now when I remember all the unfinished work I’ve left behind: the short story challenge I started for this blog that died out as soon as I as was promoted at work, the plans I set for myself to start in June to get back to daily writing, the novel I planned to rework only a few months ago but forgot about after reading the first chapter.
It’s not pretty, especially coming from someone who runs a writing blog to help writers get over hurdles like these. But that’s when I realized that that’s just the reason I needed to talk about not wanting to write. It can make me feel like a hypocrite to not take my own advice and “just start writing again,” then tell you all to do it, so why not also talk very honestly about a time (right now) when writing is the last thing I want to do too?
I don’t promise I have any solutions. However, what I can say that is if you’re reading this and worried that you don’t want to write, you still care about storytelling, and that says it all.
Below I’ve broken down why I don’t want to write right now. If you’re struggling with wanting to write, I suggest you do the same. Oftentimes just sitting down and answering why writing sounds awful to you can help you realize the solution.
Here are the reasons I realized I don't even want to think about writing lately:
1. I'm still getting over the pain of getting rejected from graduate school.
That was over a year ago, but it was a blow to my confidence as a writer and storyteller that I expected, but didn't expect to hurt for so long. When I graduated I knew that the path of storyteller was a difficult one, but I knew I wanted to pursue that path as directly as possible regardless. To me that meant attending graduate school where I could study my craft for 2–3 more years. To some extent, this rejection from graduate school felt like a rejection of my storytelling dreams. Sure, it’s just graduate school, but no matter how many times I remind myself that there are many great writers who didn’t attend graduate school, it doesn’t shake the feeling I have that I’m not meant to be a storyteller.
2. A short story I really believed in was rejected by over 20 journals.
This was the first short story I felt was good and really unique. I tried to embrace the rejection as part of the process, but coupled with my graduate school rejection I would be remiss to deny that it impacted my enthusiasm. That said, a few weeks ago I got a rejection for this story with a personalized note complementing it. It didn’t make me feel great, but it gave me a little nudge in the right direction.
3. My blog didn't take on the success I had hoped for.
Over a year ago, I tried to launch several courses for this blog. They all bombed. I had put months and months of effort into them with the hopes of not only helping people but building an income that would support my creative writing life as well. When that didn't go as planned, I had to focus elsewhere to make a living, and it felt like I had to turn my back on creative writing.
4. I began a full-time position.
The last thing I want to do after working an 8-hour workday at the computer and sitting in rush hour traffic for 30 minutes or more, was sit down and do any type of work that used my brain. This included my blog, but luckily I feel I owe it to people to keep up with it, so occasionally I'd force myself to keep up with it. As for creative writing, there was no one expecting work for me, so I let it go. I wish I could say I have writing and working a full-time job mastered, but I don’t yet. When I do, I’ll be sure to let you all know!
5. I picked up other hobbies.
As mentioned in other posts and on Twitter, I've lately been doing a lot of cooking. I've also been focusing on my health by practicing yoga and taking care of my mind, which lately has been very anxious. Luckily, unlike the other things listed above, I don't think this is a bad thing that it takes away from my writing, because I see all hobbies as a form of research. So if I'm called to do a different hobby than writing, I think it's unhealthy to deny that desire, because it only makes writing seem more like a chore.
I also think it's important to have interests other than writing. As writers our job is to observe the world, but if we're only thinking about writing all the time, and not observing, it can be hard to do that. The last time I had a writing lull, I was really interested in Spanish, and this in turn came to shape all my creative writing in a positive way, so I actually find hobbies taking away from my craft exciting.
These are things I think will help me love writing again
There is no easy path to falling in love with writing again, because the truth is like any hobby or passion, the first few times can feel like a major chore. However, now that I’ve evaluated why I really don’t want to write, I’ve spent some time honestly assessing where I’m at in life, and think I should take the steps below to get back to it. Again, your own steps will be very different, so I hope that in seeing how I’ve thought this through, I’ve helped you too!
1. do NanOWriMO
It felt like a no-brainer when I realized that I could use what was stressing me out (working full-time) as a positive thing to also inspire me by turning to that community for support. This year, I asked if any coworkers wanted to do NaNoWriMo with me and a few said yes, so I’ve locked myself in. I knew that while my full-time job was taking away from writing, within it also lay a community of creative people who could inspire me to get back to writing again. I hope that come November, I’ll feel inspired, but also have that accountability I need right now.
2. Start outlining and plotting more
As I’ve said before, I usually am someone who writes by the seat of their pants. While I like that creativity, I want to see if making myself outline and plot more will help me gradually ease back into the craft, but also make it feel like I have a plan to write from after a long day’s work. I know that part of the difficulties with working and writing is that creative writing often feels like more work, so I think having a solid plan to come home to could help me.
3. Leave work when I leave work
While I’m fortunate to be a leader at work, this also means I’ve become really bad at disconnecting when I get home. I think learning to turn off Slack + Gmail when I’m home would help me not just as a writer, but also become a happier person in general!
I still haven’t figured out how to get over the rejections I faced in many forms last year, be it from failure at my blog courses or graduate school, but all I know how to give myself from there is time.
Granted, I know that I’ll never get back to writing if I make myself feel bad about not doing it. Guilt never makes anything seem appealing. So, if I need to take my time to get back to my craft, I know all I can do is embrace the journey and occasionally give myself a kick in the ass to just get to work.
(Because let’s be honest, sometimes we all need to just deal with it and start writing. But not all the time.)