I’ve had to dust off my keyboard for this blog because it’s been so long since I last wrote. I have projects on the horizon but getting my head around them has been like trying to walk through quicksand. This is by far the worst writing rut I’ve ever experienced.
I’m beginning to ask myself that question: am I a writer if I’m not writing anything?
I’m sure I’m not the only writer in the world who has dealt with this so here’s my take on those seasons where you feel like you can’t write and what to do during those times (and FYI, this is totally me, talking to myself right now):
If you can, pinpoint the “why”
For me it’s two-fold. Firstly, it’s been a rough end to the year with multiple personal and work-related dramas, but, secondly, it’s also been some of the most rewarding months creatively because as a children’s book illustrator I’m finally finding my space. I think part of my lack of drive to write is because I am scratching that creative, storytelling itch elsewhere. For you, it might be something else. Knowing what is holding you back may help in taking steps to change something in your life to make space (in your head as much as your life) for more writing.
Remember, seasons are temporary
When you’re deep inside winter, it’s sometimes hard to remember what the weather is like in summer. You can’t remember being warm. But it will be. Change is the only constant in life, so console yourself with the fact that you won’t always feel this way. You WILL write again.
You’re a writer… so if you can’t produce words, consume them. It’s okay to have a season where you inhale inspiration that can later be the catalyst for a new project. Maybe this is part of the creative process that we need to surrender ourselves to.
I recently picked up ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert again to remind me of things like this:
‘…of course it’s difficult to create things; if it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be doing it, and it wouldn’t be special or interesting.’
And it doesn’t have to come from non-fiction. Reading your favourite author’s latest book (Maggie Stiefvater, I’m coming for you) will inspire you. I’m a big believer that any consumption of good storytelling can be kindling for new work down the line.
Stop feeling guilty
I’ve never found guilt to be a good motivator for creativity and like Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, (yes, I’m going to quote this book a lot) ‘I have felt the way my self-pity slams the door on inspiration.’ I feel like guilt does the same thing. It’s a wasted emotion that restrains you rather than propels you, so get rid of it.
Don’t wait for perfection
Don’t wait for the perfect words, the perfect time, the perfect story idea. In a season where writing is hard, just write what you can. Write whatever. Write badly. Write sentences. Just write. You may find your rhythm again through doing. Maybe those small attempts will restart your writing engine and get you to the good words you’re after.
Just like seasons in nature, where spring buds take time to push through the cold ground, it may take time for you to feel inspired to write again. Surrender to the process. Write a little – every day, every week, whatever works – and a little more, and a little more and eventually that little will be enough.
Again, quoting Big Magic, ‘You try and try and try and nothing works. But you keep trying, and you keep seeking, and then sometimes, in the least expected place and time, it finally happens.’ She was talking about success here, but I think it applies to this too.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, don’t be disheartened. If you are any kind of creative person, it will come because the creativity will find a way of leaking out of you. Let it.