When did we all start believing that writing is always the perfect outlet for our … everything?
I have a difficult time ever recalling a mentor or a writer I admired from afar telling me that there would be stretches where I hated writing so much I’d want to quit.
I’d always assumed it would be difficult. Never that I would forget why I liked it.
Though no one ever said writing was easy — I’d personally like a word with those who have, I just want to talk — what many don’t realize when they sign up for this life is that being a writer isn’t always going to be a job you love.
In fact, there will be days you hate it. Months you feel you’re dragging yourself miserably through it. Spans of time you just … stop.
It’s those dark and dreary times I want to highlight here. I don’t know if you could say I’ve officially been trapped in one for the past year or so. But at some point I did largely scale back on how much I wrote per week.
And I barely missed it. Until recently.
I can’t say what brought me back to my desire to make words happen. Maybe it’s been there for a long time and I was too busy, too stressed, too focused on other projects to notice.
But honestly? For me, coming back to writing is the easy part.
The hard part will be continuing to remember why I want to stay.
And it takes a lot of effort to rediscover the reasons you started writing in the first place. Because day to day, sometimes they’re different. Some days it’s for your [potential] readers. Some days it’s for yourself. Your paycheck, if you’re lucky. Your ego, if you’re honest.
Beneath all that, though, is the one truth we all must cling to whether we’re currently actively writing or not: Back when you had nothing, and you put words onto pages, you did it not for the money, the people, the recognition — you did it because you wanted to. Because you loved it.
Deep down, you probably still do. I know I do.
Why, then, do we fall out of love with writing? Because it’s work. It’s exhausting. Even “fun” writing requires switching on a part of you that uses up more energy than you realize until after the fact.
Sometimes we realize we’re not getting out of writing what we need in the moment. And we decide we need to stop.
Just because you hit pause doesn’t mean you have to walk away forever.
When you do start to feel you no longer love what you do, remember this: If you ever loved it at all, you will always find your way back.
Like any kind of love, your connection to, care of, and passion for your writing will never be a constant, easy thing. Though you will always have and cherish it, challenges will arise. Uncertainty will surface. You will face moments in which you’ll wonder: “Is this really what I’ve always wanted?”
And that is the very definition of loving something — questioning whether or not we want or need it only to realize that though we may change, we may have doubts and insecurities, some things don’t alter and shift as we do.
However, unlike love — which, if nurtured properly, can ideally withstand the various ups and downs of the twisted, treacherous roads of life — writing is a different kind of constant. It often will not love you back. And when you walk away from it, it will wait patiently for your return without protest.
If you want to be a writer, you can always be exactly that. Writing requires work, but work is not all we do or all we are. When you take a break, whether short or extensive, you’re not any less of a writer than you were. As long as you intend to return to your work, rather than eternally existing in a state of “maybe tomorrow will be the day I seek out a blank page.”
Breaks are necessary. Vacations, hiatuses, pauses. “Resets.”
We sometimes look down upon these ideas when we should really be yelling about how essential, healthy, and rejuvenating they can be.
It’s often in the absence of the thing you love with all your heart and soul that you realize how much it really means to you.
I’m fairly confident that the most rewarding way to rediscover your love for writing is to walk away until you begin to wonder why you did. And THEN, once you’ve forgotten why you left … come back.
Don’t worry about jumping back into blogging or starting a new book or reconnecting with old clients or … any of that.
Just sit down, find a blank page — any one will do — and start writing.
Because that’s how your writing journey began, after all. You started with nothing, and through doing that you built something beautiful. Something you loved.
Start from your beginning. Remember why you did. And then keep going.
You won’t regret it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor, writer, podcaster, and photographer. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about nonsense and Star Wars.