I couldn’t write.
Well, I COULD. I had to — I didn’t have a choice.
But coming up with ideas? Enjoying the process? Nope. I wanted nothing to do with it.
It had been weeks. And I just couldn’t get it together.
I just kept asking myself over and over: “What is wrong with you?”
And then it hit me.
NO ONE is particularly OK right now.
The world is on fire.
These are unprecedented times. And we have to do what we can, when we can, to adjust.
If you’re the type of person who gets down on themselves for struggling, first off, know you’re not alone. Writers are extremely sensitive to their natural pull to create, and when that isn’t happening as it normally does, it can start to feel like your entire existence is about to break apart.
Second … It’s OK. It’s OK to not be OK. ESPECIALLY if you’re reading this in 2020.
We put ourselves under A LOT of pressure to continuously make things, even when things are actually going OK and we’re not in a constant state of anxiety and dread (what’s that like??). We “need” to write. We “should” be working on that book. “Other people are probably almost done with their quarantine novels by now and I’ve written two pages and fanfiction of my own nonexistent fiction. I am a failure.”
You’re not! You’re fine. There’s just a lot going on and you’ve set your expectations for yourself WAY too high.
There is nothing wrong with having high expectations. I belong to Overachievers Anonymous – The Elite Series. I get it. But there will be points in your life where you have to lower the bar. You simply can’t always outperform yourself all the time. Things happen. Pandemics. Mass demand for social justice reform. Something about a dust storm? What?
When you’re overwhelmed with the real world, writing seems like it would be the perfect means of temporary escape. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it isn’t! And that’s OK! If you can’t write, you can’t write. It’s not going to feel great. But that’s probably because you love to write and you want to do it. Not having the energy or focus necessary to do what makes you happy is frustrating. Discouraging. Devastating.
BUT IT’S NOT. YOUR. FAULT.
You can’t control the world or the other people in it. You can’t even control how you might be feeling right now.
But you CAN control how gentle and patient you are with yourself. Not feeling inspired or motivated, wanting to write but being unable to force yourself to do it — many more writers are feeling this way right now than you might realize. Your feelings are valid. Let yourself feel your feelings for as long as you need to feel them.
That is how we get to a point where we can at least try to write the way we’re used to writing again.
You are not broken. There is nothing “wrong” with you.
You are a human living in a world that’s not all that great for most humans at the moment.
Writing can still be important to you even if it can’t be your first priority right now.
Rest. You don’t have to earn it. You deserve it just because you’re here.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.