A to Z: Not Writing

Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. 
Lawrence Kasdan 
Ohhhh, the guilt of Not Writing. It would be one thing if writing was my actual job, but unfortunately, it isn't. I have to make time for it; I have to fit it in where I can. But sometimes... life gets in the way. (Or, y'know, you join a month-long blog challenge that takes a lot more time than you expected.) :) And that's when the guilt sets in.

But today I'm thinking about what Not Writing is, and why maybe it's not so bad.

You don’t always have to give up things you enjoy—even mundane things, even things that you’re reluctant to admit you take enjoyment in—to make time to write. You don’t have to feel guilty about everything you do that isn’t writing.

I can't write if I'm completely braindead after a 10-hour day at work. On those days, I'd rather just spend time with my wife, or talk to my parents on the phone, or take a jog around the pond near my house, or watch guilty-pleasure TV and not think a single thought if I can help it. It's all Not Writing, but sometimes it's all I can muster - and it means I can come back to my writing refreshed, with a functioning brain that's ready to be creative. I'm not a robot. I'm a person, with friends and relationships and hobbies and the desire to do more than simply work and write and rinse and repeat. What will I have to write about, if I never leave the house? What can I know of the world - what will I have to say?

There are days I don't write. Sometimes, there are weeks. The trick is to figure out how to keep the story alive while you're out doing other things.

So. I'm just going to leave this right here, because I like it a lot and I want to remember it:

It doesn't matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there's no time limit on how long you have to write.

One day you might read over what you've done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come.  
That's fine. 
Sometimes you can't go further. 
Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that's enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.

The next day you might write for hours; there's no way to tell.

The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.


Now THAT I can do.  Every day.
Do you write every day?  What do you do when you're Not Writing?

One month.  26 posts.  A to Z.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out the Challenge here.)


  1. When I'm Not Writing, I read.

    1. Yeah, I do quite a bit of that as well. :)

  2. Hi Jes!

    Great post, and again -- I'm right there with you. This is one I struggle with all the time, and especially lately.

    Am I a 'writer' if I'm not writing?

    How about if I want to write, but I'm so busy dealing with all the events that happen at the speed of life, you know? Work and family will always have to take precedence, at least until I somehow become wealthy, but even then, family will come first.

    This month has seen a extremely low wordcount output. In my spare writing time I'm instead blogging and commenting on other blogs because of this challenge, and not writing. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy blogging and have met some great fellow writers (such as yourself, who I'm thrilled to have met!!!), but since my whole point of having a blog was to focus on my writing, and this month the blogging has kind of taking over from my writing, than I have to at least wonder about what the heck I'm doing, lol!

    Wonderful post as always!

    1. Thanks Chris! I'm right there with you - this month is busy for a number of reasons, but it certainly hasn't helped my wordcount that I'm spending much of my free time blogging and visiting other blogs. But since I have met so many lovely people, yourself included, I'm going to try not to feel guilty, and just take one for the team. Next month... next month will be SO productive, just you wait! :)

  3. Discipline is always necessary for greatness.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

  4. Love the Mosley quote, and yeah, there's a definite balance to be struck between focus on the work and keeping rested and alive to the world. So often when I was in Boston I'd stay in reading about publishing when I should've been out talking to bus drivers and simply watching people and listening.

    Keep healthy, keep your imagination going, and keep in mind that being a writer is a state of awareness as much as what you put on the page.

    1. Yes, thanks for that, MC! While it's probably true that you're not a writer if you NEVER write, it's also true that you're still a writer when you're not writing. Walking through the world, interacting and taking things in - it's just as important.

  5. I needed this post today. Thank you.

    1. Glad it found you at the right time. :)