When You Don't Want To Write

Thursday, March 30, 2017
I laughed the other day, explaining to a friend why I was late for a meeting I attend almost every week. “Well, I don’t like coming. I have to talk myself into it every week!”

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.

Just write.

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.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--What about if you wrote FOR the BMH? I was once told to write for an imagined person who was super critical of my work. I was supposed to write a letter explaining my WIP, where I was going with it, what sorts of things I was struggling with, etc.

You could do something similar (perhaps). Write, but then have a "conversation" either in your head and heart or on paper, and I bet that unconditional love and support will come boomeranging back in your direction.

I hope this doesn't sound like a crazy suggestion...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like Sioux's suggestion!

And this part of your post, Cathy - "But mostly, I write because I believe. One of these days, I’ll wake to find joy in my writing again." I believe that, too, for you and for all who are struggling.

Carol Coven Grannick said...

Cathy - thank you for sharing this experience with us. I've actually been thinking about, and writing about, this kind of time in the writing journey (and I feel the same about the non-existence of writer's block, for me at least). It helps to normalize some of the vicissitudes in the long journey...

Linda O'Connell said...

When your mojo goes on hiatus, sometimes the best thing to to is chill. When I can't bring myself to write something new, I revisit something old. Then I am my best critic: let me show you another way to say/show that. What the heck were you thinking?!

Before I know it I'm back in the groove. I hope you are, too. You know BMH is your cheerleader on high. Hugs dear Cathy.

Pat Wahler said...

I think you'll discover you've touched the hearts of many reading this post, Cathy. It helps to know how someone else is coping when hard times come, for we all know they will.


Margo Dill said...

Oh Cathy--your post touched me. Keep writing. I do believe even managing to do a blog post at this point should be celebrated

Cathy C. Hall said...

Sioux, it's not crazy at all. :-) I constantly fuss/talk/laugh at Mister Man. Though if he ever fusses back at me, I may be the one that's crazy. :-)

Madeline, so good to see you. Reminded me of how much I love your writing and that I hadn't visited in a while. So I'm off to catch up with you! ♥

I'm glad, Carol. And yes, it makes me feel a little bit more normal to know that others go through the same challenges.

Linda, Pat, and Margo...sometimes all I can say is ♥.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Cathy, I love Monty Python, too! That skit is the best. :)

I think it's good to take time off from writing, but not too long where it's hard to jump back in. I did that once. So when I lost a loved one recently, I switched to journaling for a while to my process feelings and also wrote letters to her.

I know it's not the same, but I want you to know that we at WOW all support you unconditionally. :) xo

Mary Horner said...

Thank you for sharing this post. My heart goes out to you, and your words are an encouragement to all writers. I agree that sometimes when writing is difficult, try something different, or work on something you put away a while ago. Short breaks work for me, but I can't do it too long or I get out of the habit!

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