Turns Out, Maybe Not Writing Was A Smart Decision This Year

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Earlier this year I came across someone's blog, who said their writing motivation was switched off like a light switch after going through some really tough times. They said instead of fighting it and struggling to be creative, they just went with it. 

At the time, it really resonated with me. I was (and still am) going through really stressful times myself. Creative writing seemed distant and hard and not where I was at. All the advice stored in my mind encouraged me to maintain the habit. Keep up with it. Fight against the temptation to not write.

And yet, I couldn't do it. 

Still can't, really. 

My desire to pursue creative writing, like theirs, was turned off like a light switch. Truthfully speaking, it's not like I haven't worked on stories at all this year. But it's more like a piddling around. Like working on a car in a garage that you never really expect to run. I've submitted without much effort or worry about a rejection. 

And you know what? It was the smartest decision I could have made.

Weirdly enough, my freelance writing self (that what-feels-non-creative, but rather business-y side of me) has grown. I landed quite a few opportunities. While I haven't mastered the art of cold pitching an idea, I have figured out a way to get into editor's inboxes without feeling like I'm bugging them. 

I'm not writing off the whole year for my creative stuff. In fact, two of my short stories are being published at the end of this year. Things can turn around and suddenly I can have a burst of creative energy waiting for me.

Writing has ebbs and flows. For me, this year, creative writing ebbed. Freelance writing flowed. Sometimes it's been the opposite. Sometimes it's been both or neither.

As writers, we go through fluctuations in our successes, failures, and motivations. If this year, you've felt bad you haven't written, don't. Sometimes we need to go with where we are at, even if the advice tells us otherwise.

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, and eventually, The Ocotillo Review and The Gold Man Review. A poem of hers was also featured in the anthology DEAR LEADERS TALES. You can read her other writing on Mental Floss, eventually Better Homes and Gardens, and in a rare issue or two of Woman's World. Say hi to her on Twitter or Threads under @BeingTheWriter.


Renee Roberson said...

I can relate, Nicole. I find it hard to go back and forth between the different types of writing! Case in point--I'm struggling to finish revisions on my novel while writing batches of podcast scripts. I also think we have different seasons of our writing careers. I love that you are ramping up your freelance writing credits, because those are tangible clips for you that you will also get paid for! You are experiencing success in many different areas though, so just keep doing what you're doing!

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you Renee! I think you are right - we go through different seasons in our writing. Just a matter of knowing where you are in the writing process.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Wait, but you ARE writing, Nicole! You've been writing up a storm and doing so well in garnering prestigious clips. The writing you're doing for GH etc. is pretty darn creative!

You know, I'm the queen of writer's block, and I didn't write creatively for 10 years (from 2007 - 2017). I freelanced, interviewed, blogged, etc. but I didn't write any fiction or CNF. It's hard to switch your brain back and forth, and after some success and setbacks in fiction, I decided to put my novel aside. I hope you don't wait as long as I did, but it didn't kill me. I don't write creatively every day. I take months off at a time, but I still manage to produce several solid pieces a year and get at least two or three journal pubs a year. I usually spend November catching up by participating in NaNoWriMo. That provides enough material to pull from for the entire next year! You'll know when the time is right, and stepping away from the fictional page will help great ideas simmer to the surface, and then inspiration will strike like lightning.

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Ang! I really appreciate that. I forget my freelance writing IS writing, even if I don't count it in my head. And maybe giving myself a break in creative work will give me that much more momentum when I return to it :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Okay, I'm glad Ang said it. Because I kept thinking "She is writing. Isn't she writing? But she keeps sharing things with us." Apparently you are very productive while doing nothing.

But on a more serious note. I think we do cycle through different types of writing. I've done magazine writing, newsletter writing, test writing, and school library writing, cycling from one to the next. And periodically I beat my head against fiction!

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