Confessions of a Lapsed Writer

Discussion questions: Are there days you don’t want to write? If so, is there any pattern to them, or trigger? Do you try to force yourself to write anyway? Do you feel guilty on days you don’t write? Where do you suppose that guilt comes from?

 

We’re told to write every day. Without fail.

A writer writes every daywe’re told.

So, are you not a writer on days you don’t write? Or worse, are you not a writer *at all* unless you write every single day? “I really want to be a writer but I’m not there quite yet — I write only six days a week.”

It’s been more than 100 days since I’ve written. Has it been more than 100 days since I’ve been a writer?

Once I start again, after how many consecutive days of writing can I again claim to be a writer? Seven? Seven thousand?

 

Last week a college student asked me “Are there days where you don’t want to write?”

Here’s a part of my response:

We’re always told to write every day… which is great, if that’s a groove you’re able to get into and life allows you to do so. But when taken as an imperative — if being told “A writer writes every day” to you means “I *must* write every day or else I’m not a writer” — it applies a lot of unnecessary pressure.

 

I used to apply that pressure to myself. If I went a few days or weeks without writing, I’d be wracked with guilt. As if the world is waiting on the edge of its seat for my words. As if I owe it to myself to force myself to write when I don’t want to.

Most of us have days when we don’t want to write. Some of us write on those days anyway; others of us don’t. There’s no universal right or wrong. There’s only you, and finding the approach that best fits.

And most of us have days where we legit can’t write. Life laughs at the idea of “write every day.”

For me, in late October life started laughing hysterically. I haven’t written a word since then. In theory, I’ve had time. But I haven’t had the capacity. The necessary headspace.

I’ve learned not to beat myself up over these things. Once I get through this phase, I’ll write again. On the days I feel like it. And sometimes — but only sometimes — on the days when I don’t.

 

This blog has been pretty thin lately, as I’m sure some of you have noticed. I miss you guys! And these discussions. I’m going to try to post more frequently again.

I’m going to try to get back to writing, too. It’ll take some effort. This post has taken me more than two hours; my word count is about 450, and I doubt it’ll be nominated for best blog post of the year.

But I’ve done it. On one of these I-don’t-want-to-write days.

Do you have days when you don’t want to write? If so, do you recognize any pattern in them?

When you don’t want to write, do you try to do it anyway?

Do you feel guilty when you don’t write? Where do you think the guilt comes from?

Do you feel like you have to write every day to be a writer? What other kinds of pressure do you put on yourself?

 

david blogWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2021 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesFor your FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer, join our mailing list