Thursday, December 5, 2013

Writing 101: Is It Ever Okay to Stop Writing?

You know those websites that feature trite advice from famous authors? I invariably end up focusing on the quotes where the authors say that you have to write every day to really be a writer. I don't do that. Does that mean I'm not a real writer? When is it okay to stop writing, to take a break from creating new books? 


Writer's Block in Rebel's Clothing?

So what if you're not just not feeling your story one day? What if you're just not inspired? Or maybe you're very busy, or sick, and you don't manage to get anything done. Suddenly now you're not a real author? 

I don't think so. Sometimes I don't want to write a thing, not even a tweet, so I don't. Since I spend about 8 to 12 hours a day at my keyboard, I think I have the right to do that. But I also think there's a line to be drawn. 



If you finish a book, or maybe you need a break from a book, then take some time. Spend a few days, a week or two even, ruminating over new ideas and enjoying the freedom of not having a deadline or a writing schedule hanging around your neck.

Spend more than that not writing, and you may not be exercising your freedom and resting your creative muscles. You might be a victim of writer's block. Authors are creative people, and I've found that new story ideas pop into my head whether I want them to or not. If I spend a few days not working on a story, I start to feel an itch. I start imagining scenes. Soon I find myself with some device in my hand, accessing my cloud, poring over materials. 

When that urge isn't striking you and you're going longer and longer without writing, you need to start asking yourself why. I once had writer's block for about two years, and it was pretty ugly. I didn't even want to write, and when I tried I couldn't focus on anything or stick to any project. I have like four half-started books from that time period. I can't really bring myself to look at them. I wasn't resting or taking a break. I was afraid.

I finally figured that out, and I wrote five books to put that period of my life behind me. But even after I didn't work on any books for two years, I was still an author. And you're still going to be who you are no matter how long you go without writing. But if you go for an extended time without words, start asking yourself why. Try to figure out what's going on, and try to bring yourself out of it. Because an author can choose not to write, or become afraid to do so, but not writing is much more painful than writing -- even if you're writing badly. When the words want to come out, you should always find a way to let them.

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