Photography by Florian Klauer

Sometimes, Writers Don’t Write

Sometimes, “a writer writes” seems like the only writing advice anyone has to offer.

The mantra, and variations of it, pepper my Facebook feed, Twitter feed, and several of the writing blogs I follow.

But, while the mantra is not untrue — and is meant as encouragement — the hard truth of the matter is that, sometimes, writers don’t write.


Sometimes, writers just breathe.

Sometimes, there really is just too much going on. In 2014, I moved away from home, got my first corporate job, got engaged, planned a wedding, and got married. All within 6 months.

And yet I still felt guilty when I was just too tired to write. I tried to push myself and ended up hating my whole novel because of it.

Life happens. While I absolutely believe it is possible to write and achieve your dreams, even in the midst of a busy life, sometimes you honestly just need to take a break, and breathe, and rest intentionally.

Sometimes, too much of your focus is demanded in other parts of your life. Don’t feel guilty for spending your energy on your spouse or family or future.

Sometimes, writers just read.

Sometimes, writers get burned out or crippled by doubt. We try to write our way through the burnout, but we’re running on empty. We need to fall in love with the craft again.

So we read. We read in our spare time. We read when we “should” be writing.

We read to fall in love with words again. We read to remind ourselves why we started writing in the first place. And we read to prove to ourselves that even the best books are imperfect.

At first, it’s easy to feel guilty, like we’re cheating on our writing by putting the time into reading. But a writer should always be reading. Sometimes that means putting our full attention and effort into our reading.

Sometimes, writers just heal.

Sometimes, sadly, depression and anxiety get the best of the writer. Creatives are more susceptible to depression than any other type of person I have ever encountered.

I’ve been there. Quite frequently, in fact. And sometimes, when you’re depressed, the absolute worst thing is to face your novel.

Under the filter of depression, your dreams become ghouls — taunting you with your failure, with the impossibility of your dreams.

The depression is lying, of course. But it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. And every day you try to “just write” is a day you resent yourself and your work even more.

So sometimes, writers just need to take a step back. Breathe. Read. Heal. Your energy right now needs to go into taking care of yourself. If writing doesn’t help your depression, then stop beating yourself up over it. You will recover, and your writing will be there for you when you get back.

Sometimes, writers just dream.

Sometimes, writers get bored with their writing. After all, we started this journey because we wanted to explore ideas and dreams and impossibilities.

But maybe somewhere, in pursuit of our passion, writing became about word goals and how-to articles on Pinterest and building an audience.

While there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, sometimes writers need to refocus. They need to forget their daily word goal and just sit down with a notebook and a hot beverage, and that song that always reminded them of their main character.

They need to sit and just dream a while, so they remember who they are and why they’re doing this.

Sometimes, writers do write.

And sometimes, writers do write. We write tentatively. We write tenaciously. We write terribly.

But we write. We gain strength with every day that the words flow from our heart onto the page. We rediscover our love for our craft, and the world feels right again.

On our truest days, writers love to write.

But sometimes, we don’t write. And you know what? That’s okay.

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