There are many reasons people stop. There’s no time. There’s no motivation. There’s frustration or lack of focus or, honestly, nothing more complex than boredom.
What too many people don’t realize is that the act of not writing is a thousand times worse than the negative feelings they might currently feel toward the pastime. In fact, writing about your struggles with writing can actually change your life. (That’s how this blog was born!)
What happens, though, when you just … stop? Give up? Keep your hands off the keyboard? What happens to your brain? What goes on inside your head?
Writing is its own form of meditation. It allows us to release stress and tension, to sort through our thoughts, to process ideas and connect with the world (and ourselves). When you don’t take that time, thoughts have nowhere to turn. Your ideas have less room to fully form. Concentrating and staying productive can become almost impossible for some.
But that’s almost nothing compared to what not-writing will do to your heart.
Writing is emotional, whether you’re naturally an emotional person or not. Even if it’s not immediate, we release feelings when we write. We react to situations, we reflect on things that have happened to us. We remember. We grieve, we celebrate, we feel pain, we feel excited. If you can’t or don’t put your emotions behind what you’re writing — within reason — you’re not using one of the most valuable resources you have to interpret and cope with whatever it is you’re feeling.
I’m not ashamed to admit half the reason I write is because writing is my therapy. It is how I process the things that happen to me — and more importantly, how they make me feel. This is why writers often tend to be so much more empathetic. They understand emotions well, because there’s no avoiding their own once the words start flowing.
Your heart needs that release. You need that safety and that freedom to express yourself, especially in situations where you have no other reliable outlet to do so.
I understand that sometimes, you have to stop writing. Things happen. But I have only a few distant memories of the seven months I stopped writing due to mental illness, and those were not happy times. I could have, should have, tried harder. I think we all can — try, I mean.
Keep writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, whether it’s publishable or a disaster, if you ever show it to anyone or keep it locked away in a place only you can find it again. If you’re a writer, not writing doesn’t make any sense. It’s not who you are. A day or two off from the grind, sure. But don’t deprive yourself of the luxury you have to make something meaningful out of words. Give your thoughts a place to go, your heart a place to feel. You deserve it. You always have. You always will.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.