Forgiveness When Life Gets In the Way of Writing

Maybe you planned to do NaNoWriMo or maybe you didn’t. Either way, maybe you’re not getting as many words in as you wanted or planned. Maybe you’ve been super busy and feeling guilty about it. Maybe you feel like the whole bloody world is falling apart and it’s too hard to write.

You’ve probably also heard the mantras “Real writer’s write” and “butt in chair”.

Well friends, I’m here to tell you that while that may be true for some people, it most certainly isn’t true all the time.

Life is messy. Life gets busy. Feeding yourself and taking care of family members is a much more pressing priority. Taking care of yourself and your mental well being are not only important, but can help you have a longer career as a writer.

Good health, and strong hands, the mental fortitude to deal with the craziness of the business, are nothing to sneeze at. You sometimes need to take care of all that shit going on in your life, before you have the energy to pour into creation.

Sometimes writer’s block isn’t about the words at all: it’s your subconscious telling you it’s tired, or maybe that you’re in need of a little rest and refueling. Sometimes it’s depression. You have to honor that feeling, and figure out why its happening, before deciding whether or not you need to push through it or respect it.

True confession: When I tried writing every day, it wasn’t long before started hating writing and dreading my writing time. It didn’t work for me.

You need to do what works for you. Find a schedule that allows you to come to the page with joy. Find what allows you to write without sucking the ‘why you love this’ out of it.

And sometimes, even when we do figure it out for a while, life can change, and we have to figure things out all over again.

That’s life. It’s messy. It’s wonderful. There are ups and downs, and you will sometimes have to deal with the world you live in before you can inhabit a fictional one. Very possibly, the fictional can help you deal with real life (that’s what motivates me).

But the whole point of this is: sometimes you can’t write. That’s okay. Forgive yourself for being human and not a machine. If you can’t forgive yourself, then maybe it will help if I forgive you?

If you call yourself a writer, you’re a writer. Don’t let anyone tell yourself otherwise. There is usually a long haul before anyone will see your words, but that doesn’t make you less of a writer.

If you didn’t make your writing goals, you still wrote more words than none. If you survived a rough week, family emergency, or are looking for ways to change the world through activism (and not just words), just look at how strong you are.

Don’t worry, the words will come when you are able to again.

4 Comments to “Forgiveness When Life Gets In the Way of Writing”

  1. You’re right — everybody needs to find what works for them. I tend to pay only limited attention to other writers’ methods. If something catches my attention, that I think would work for me, I grab it, but generally I study their writing more than their processes.

    And, yes, sometimes you don’t write. I’ve quoted this before — and maybe even here — but it’s very true:

    “In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused.” (Ernest Hemingway)

    1. I like that quote! I’ve also read at least one well established authors that doesn’t write for months but can finish a novel in a couple of weekends. Everyone’s different. Sometimes half the process of writing is in our heads 🙂

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