It’s been quite a year.
So much has happened that we feel beaten down, like the world is pummeling us in the face until we can’t stand up any more.
As writers, we feel an obligation during this time in our lives. We feel obligated to keep creating, even though we are suffering.
But the words just won’t flow. We’re lucky if we get a few scrappy sentences on the page.
And the guilt grows stronger.
“You should be writing!”
“Why can’t you write as much as you used to?”
“Why don’t you love writing any more?”
Do you feel guilty about your creative output?
When our social lives and sense of normalcy has been stripped away, we are left with the bare bones of what we used to be inspired by.
As writers, we have a unique talent– we can take raw inspiration from the world around us and transform it into something new. So when our world is taken away, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we lose our creativity.
It’s okay to feel beaten down.
At this point, we all have limited amounts of energy. Think of your energy like a pumpkin pie. 8 inches, just like it’s always been.
After you hand out slices to your day job, your family, and yourself, you go back to cut a slice for your writing.
But your stress took so much of the “energy pie,” there’s nothing left except a few crumbs and the knife.
That’s okay, you’ll just write something tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes and goes. Maybe you write something, maybe you don’t.
“I’m supposed to enjoy this,” you say as you sit in front of the blank page for an hour, waiting for your brain to work like it used to.
It’s okay to feel this way, especially when you’re fighting so many other battles in your life.
Even the strongest warriors need to rest.
So don’t beat yourself up if your writing takes longer than it used to.
Rest if you need to.
If you can’t keep moving forward, it’s time to rest. But when you’re done resting, you need to push ahead.
Resting is different than procrastinating.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I had to remind my college friends to take a break from studying. They studied too much, and I was afraid it would actually hurt their grades.
I’d always say, “You need to take a break.” And they’d say, “I didn’t study yesterday, so that counts as a break.”
An intentional break is much healthier than procrastinating and calling it a break.
When times are rough, your brain feels burned out 99.9999999% of the time. Most people either push themselves to the point of a breakdown, or they keep resting and never pick up their projects again.
Every creative person has taken a break at some point.
Nowadays, I get a lot of inspiration from YouTube, and I can assure you that a lot of content creators have taken a break from the platform at some point.
(Just go to YouTube and look up “taking a break from YouTube.”)
If these content creators can section off days, weeks, even months to take a break, why can’t you do the same?
Since most writers don’t release a new novel every day of the year, their breaks are a lot less public.
Everyone takes a break eventually.
This is not an excuse to stop writing forever. Just remember that if you really need to rest, that’s okay. Everybody does it.
Your health comes first.
After you rest, gather some inspiration and start again.
When you’re ready to come out of a break, start by gathering as much inspiration as possible.
Make a list of everything that inspires you during this time in your life.
Here are some of my favorite places to find inspiration during quarantine:
- A good show. (Currently watching Stranger Things and Once Upon a Time. I love both of them.)
- Pinterest, especially boards about character inspiration.
- Books about writing. (When I learn how to write, it makes me want to write.)
- YouTube. (I love watching other people build and design and create.)
Take a look at this inspirational video for creative people:
Start working again when you’re ready.
When you feel like you’re ready to stand up again and start writing, be gentle with yourself.
The words might seem slow at first. You might get a couple sentences in and think, “Why am I doing this?” And that’s normal.
You’re going to get through this.
Someday, your life will be back on track. You will love writing again, and you will write like you never wrote before.
Until then, you need to alternate resting and writing until you find a balance that works for you.
Here’s another video that I watch a lot these days. This is a good video to watch in general, but I recommend starting the video at 4:41 (4 minutes 41 seconds).
You are worthy of dreaming.
You deserve to have goals and aspirations in life.
You can create. You can write. You can do great things.
Someday, the world will need your talent and your creativity. And you need to take care of yourself and your talents so that when you are needed, you will be ready.
And as much as I’d like to be optimistic, we can’t see what the future looks like. Maybe 2021 will be better. Maybe it won’t. We don’t have any say in the matter.
In five, ten, twenty years, who knows what we’ll be dealing with?
Will you keep creating stories in the future?
Our culture depends on creativity. We need filmmakers, singers, storytellers.
As writers, we provide people with a way to escape, even for an hour or two. We build portals to other worlds. We give people a reason to smile.
Take a break if you need to. Then jump back into it.
Because at this point, it’s no longer about making money or building an audience.
With the 26 letters of the English alphabet, you can build your own reality.
That’s exactly what readers need right now. They need another reality.
And they need you to open that portal for them.
So when you’re ready, get back up.
You were born to write. Stop avoiding your destiny.
Go write something.
We believe in you.
(Sorry this post got delayed, I had some internet issues on Monday.)
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Merry Christmas, and I’ll be back with a new post in the near future!
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