I want to talk about something not a lot of writers talk about. Let’s talk about what happens when you don’t feel like writing.
Not what you should do when you don’t feel like writing…which is write. Power through it. Suck it up. Writers write. You have to do your job even when you don’t feel like doing it, and the same is true for writing. If you ask any successful writer for their advice on what to do when you don’t feel like writing they’d say….write anyway.
But, I’m not here to give you advice.
I am here to talk about how it feels when a writer just doesn’t feel like writing. I want to talk about what happens to your brain, your ego, that delicate writer psyche that is barely holding on to sanity at any given moment. Because it happens. It happens to me. A lot. I am almost always thinking about writing. Even when it doesn’t seem like I’m thinking about writing, I probably am. I imagine the same is true for most writers. This is not the problem.
The problem is the gut-wrenching guilt that comes when you just don’t want to write. I want to talk about that. I am not going to give advice on how to get past it, because I have no idea. I am not soliciting advice because I know what you’ll say and I know you’re right. I just want to talk about how it feels…
So, here are a few things that happen inside my brain, my guts, and my writer psyche when I don’t want to write.
I question my existence
All I’ve ever wanted to do was write. When I was young, I did it all the time. During school, after school, in class, while eating, before sleeping, in the bath, with friends. I didn’t know a lot about what I wanted to do with my life (shit, I still don’t…) but I knew I wanted to write. My love of writing has always defined me as a person. So, what does it say about me if I don’t want to write? I don’t just sit on my bed and write anymore. I don’t sneak out a notebook and write lines between tasks (though, to be fair, I am writing this at work right now…shhh..). I still want to be a writer, but sometimes, I just don’t want to write. And when those two thoughts collide? My guts and my brain and my sensitive writers psyche all tighten into a ball and internally rock back and forth while I grimace and go about my day wondering who I am, what I’m doing with my life and if I’ll ever find a purpose.
I get SUPER jealous
Since social media is obviously the place you want to go when you’re feeling bad about yourself…I spend a lot of my time watching other writers post word counts and pictures of coffee shops and manuscripts and highlighted pages and stacks of paper and I hate them just a little (seriously, love you all!). I want what they have. I want to be doing what they’re doing…except I don’t. Trust me, I get the irony. I say I want to be writing as I blog about not wanting to write….as I write the blog…about…not…wanting to…write…it’s very confusing. And, often, too much for brain, heart, and psyche to handle and I am frozen in my tracks before I can even attempt to put pen to paper.
I feel like a failure
And so, before I even have anything to fail at, I feel like a failure. I didn’t write something that turned out terrible and was shunned by the masses as the worst piece of writing in history….I didn’t write anything at all. You know those “inspirational” memes…”You only fail if you stop trying.” Yea, that’s me. I’ve stopped trying. I’ve stalled. I’m stuck. And a lot of the time, I don’t want to get unstuck. I feel like a failure but I don’t want to take the steps I know I need to take to do the one thing that would make me less of one…try.
I think other writers are judging me
Side note: Writers are actually the most non-judgmental people you will ever meet.
They aren’t judging me, and I know this. They get what I am going through because they’ve been through it. The writers I follow on Twitter and know in real life are supportive and understanding and would never make other writers feel bad about themselves. That said, it doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t THINK they are judging me. My irrational writer’s psyche, the one that thinks I’m a failure, also thinks these writers who are writing are silently judging me for not writing. Even though they’re not. But it feels like they are.
So, there you have it. Not wanting to write sucks. And it makes you feel like a giant, judged, lackluster, no-purpose-in-life failure. At least that’s how it makes me feel.
How do you feel today? Do you go through periods where you don’t want to write? How do you recover? Help! Share your thoughts.