When You Don't Want To Write
Until that moment, I hadn’t considered the why behind my lateness. But the truth is, I’m rarely late for what I enjoy, the things I love to do. And for the last couple of months, writing has fallen prey to the “talking myself into it” principle.
Now, I’m not talking about writer’s block. I’m sorry to say I don’t believe in that condition, at least for me. I have files full of ideas, drawers stuffed with scraps of writing topics. I have plenty I could write about.
And it’s not that I’m any busier than I’ve been before, that I just don’t have the time for writing. In fact, I probably have more time now than I’ve ever had.
No, it’s not the old standbys.
It took me a couple of months to figure it out because honestly, I didn’t realize how much Mister Man had to do with my writing. I mean, I was the one pulling out my hair, facing constant ups and downs, revising ad nauseam while all he had to do was listen to my occasional—okay, weekly—rants.
But unconditional support is funny that way. You don’t miss it until you don’t have it anymore. (And I’m so sorry if this is the first you’re hearing about Mister Man’s untimely demise! There’s just no easy way, even in this age of instant information, to let everyone know that the Beneficent Mr. Hall up and died on me last summer. I thought about inserting the Monty Python skit about the dead parrot to add a little levity; it was a favorite of ours even if it is a wee bit on the dark humor side. You know what? I’m linking to it anyway. Go have a laugh.)
The point is, there are times when you don’t want to write. There are days, months, maybe years when your heart’s just not in it, when you can’t whip up even an ounce of joy at the thought of writing. It doesn’t have to be at the loss of a loved one. Sadly, it can be any old crisis that might come along.
So I asked Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the New York Times best-selling novel, Deep End of the Ocean. She was a presenter at that conference I told you about and she gave a talk on writing through hard times. Afterwards, I asked her how she managed to write again, after her husband died and left her with three small children.
“Just write,” she said. “Write ten pages every day. It doesn’t have to be good; you just have to keep going. Writing will sustain you.”
So I write. I talk myself into it, though maybe not a whole ten pages worth, and maybe I don’t manage it every day. But I keep going, perhaps because there is something in the writing that does sustain me in ways I don’t understand yet.
And I think the Beneficent Mr. Hall would want me to keep at it. But mostly, I write because I believe. One of these days, I’ll wake to find joy in my writing again. And if you’ve had writing times like this, my friends, you are not alone.
Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. Her latest release is a leveled reader, Who'll be President?, from Darakwon Publishing in Korea.