I Love Writing But Sometimes It Doesn’t Love Me
When the urge to create feels more “force” than “flow”
I’ve spent the last 20 minutes of my work-day accepting LinkedIn connection requests when I should have spent it writing. I’ve always wanted to make a full-time career out of writing and ever since I was a small child, that’s what I’ve felt called to do with my life. As I worked day after day of my life away at a job that didn’t make me feel inspired or especially encouraged about my own talents, I craved the freedom that becoming a full-time writer would allow me.
Put simply, I just wanted to feel passionate about what I was doing with my life. As I sat at my 9–5 job in a crowded medical office without windows, I found myself yearning for the light. Soon, I decided to take the leap. I told myself it was now or never. If I wanted to feel content and fulfilled in life, I had to take a risk.
One year and roughly seven months after making my decision to pursue writing full-time, I’ve learned a few things about myself. For one, I still love writing. Even though I do it on a daily basis and often write about subjects that don’t particularly interest me on behalf of my clients, I still love crafting a piece of writing from the ground up.
Secondly, however, I have learned that as much as I love writing, writing doesn’t always love me. Lately, that creative flow that I depend on to carry me from one project to the next has been seemingly absent. Rather than feeling like I could write effectively, I’ve felt as though I’m trying to force something that simply doesn’t want to happen.
If you’re a writer yourself, you probably know what I’m talking about with an excruciating familiarity. Sometimes, no matter how hard we feel that we are trying, writing just doesn’t love us. We want to write. We want to pour our soul into the creative process. We want to string words together in a way that is powerful, meaningful, and thought-provoking. We want to create and craft. No matter how hard we try, though, the process of writing evades us. We try to harness it and wield it but it slips through our fingers.
When this happens, it is painfully easy to start doubting yourself as a writer. Do you even have what it takes? Will you ever have a good idea again? Have you lost that spark? These are questions that all writers know very well and they can be debilitating, forcing us to question what we’re doing. I find myself going through this right now. It’s been a tough month. I had planned to write at least one new Medium story per day and I’ve published three. Even the ones that I have published, despite doing fairly well, aren’t pieces I’m particularly proud of.
In short, I don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential as a writer. Instead, I feel like I’m standing in the rain and waiting for some metaphorical door to open up and let me into the warm, dry safety of home. I feel isolated and barred from something I’ve always loved. Worst of all, I don’t know where to place the blame.
I’ve realized in the course of the past month that just because I love writing, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll always be able to sit down and do it in the way I feel that I need to. As I’ve tried to dissect myself to figure out what the problem is, I’ve realized that there is no simple answer when it comes to the question of why I don’t feel like I can write right now. Maybe it’s seasonal depression, whispering in my ear that I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I’m burnt out. Maybe I even need to learn to cut myself some slack.
If you find yourself in the same funk that I’m currently experiencing, I feel it’s important to remind you that just because you love writing, that doesn’t mean it’ll always come naturally. Sometimes, the entire process will feel more “force” than “flow”. That’s what makes the moments of “flow” so special.
Further, just because you feel as though you’re forcing things right now, that doesn’t mean you should give up. As easy as it is to tell yourself that you’ve lost that creative spark you once had and that it may never return, this simply isn’t the case. As a writer, you’ll only stop being able to call yourself “a writer” when you allow yourself to. You’re the only one that can make that an unfortunate reality.
If I had to sum up what is making me feel as though writing doesn’t love me right now, I would say that I’ve simply convinced myself that I’m not worthy of its love. In the past month, with everything I’ve had going on in my life, I’ve told myself that I’m undeserving of the type of life that I want. In doing so, I’ve blocked myself from connecting with that creative side of me. It isn’t that writing doesn’t love me the way I love it; it’s that I’ve convinced myself that it shouldn’t because I am undeserving of the life that I want (the life of a full-time writer).
Now that I’ve uncovered this fact, making a very important distinction, all that is left to do is to allow myself to write even when I feel like I’m not doing it “the right way”. Even if I look back over this story and feel like it doesn’t live up to my standards, that nobody will appreciate it, I still need to force myself to hit “Publish”. As writers, we sometimes delude ourselves into thinking that what we have to say isn’t worthy of anyone listening. When we allow ourselves to fall into such a mindset, we cut ourselves off from our passion. We decide that we’re undeserving and, therefore, won’t let ourselves have what we want.
You have to let yourself have what you want.
Instead of getting tied up in what you feel you’re incapable of, start recognizing everything you’ve accomplished up to this point. You’re still that person. You’re still that creative mind. You’re still that writer. Sometimes writers don’t feel like writers. Sometimes we feel like imposters in a land that we don’t belong in. Still, you have to convince yourself that you are worthy- even when it’s the hardest thing to do.
Writing is a practice and sometimes that practice feels like failure. One day, I’d like to be a writer with a following. One day, I’d like to be a writer that people return to again and again to hear what I have to say. Someday, I’d like to feel heard, understood, and appreciated. Through writing, I feel connected with those that read my work. As I’ve found myself struggling lately, I believe that is what I’ve missed the most- not the money, not the praise, and not the followers- but the connection.
I’m not someone with many meaningful personal relationships in my life (although I wish I had them) and so my writing has always been my way of connecting with others. In the time that I’ve felt unable to produce anything meaningful, I’ve felt no connection to those that took the time to read my work. This lack of connection has forced me even deeper into the metaphorical pit that is my perceived inability to create.
I’ve forgotten what the reason that I write feels like.
I want desperately to remember it again.
So, although I feel weary and incapable, I will continue to love writing and I will push forward with pursuing my dream. I will treat writing as the practice that it is and I will remind myself that practice involves mistakes. Mistakes are not failures. Mistakes are chances to learn, grow, and maybe even blossom.
If you’re a writer yourself, I want you to remember why you write. In reality, this probably has a lot to do with why you feel like writing doesn’t love you right now. It isn’t that you’re incapable- it’s that the reason why you love to write is muffled. Open your heart to what writing means to you once again and allow it in. It isn’t that writing doesn’t love you- it’s probably that you’ve forgotten why you love it.
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”- Thomas Mann
You love writing and, therefore, you take it very seriously. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as taking it too seriously. If you convince yourself that everything you write must be perfection, a work of absolute genius, you will forever be stuck in the practice of “force” instead of “flow”. Allow yourself to create. Get out of your own way. Just write. Write like your future depends on it but know that things won’t always click and you won’t always look back over your work and feel satisfied. That means you’re a real writer. Just don’t let it control you.
Want writing to love you again? Love it. Love it wholeheartedly and remind yourself every single day of the reason that you do.
When you do, you’ll open the door to all of the worlds that you have yet to create and you’ll watch them materialize before your very eyes.