3rd Wednesday of the Month

I’m not sure if I have nothing to say—or too much to say. Either way, I’m on an informal hiatus from writing. The words just kind of stopped. Maybe it was the shock of how quickly Covid changed my life: robbing me of theater, my job, my rituals. Or maybe it’s the sheer horror of watching the shitshow going down in the White House. Or maybe it’s that my state has gone up in flames, putting me on evacuation alert for days on end, forcing me to imagine losing my home—our home that we just (ourselves) finished painting—while sheltering helplessly in place as others lost their homes. Or maybe it’s the lingering smoky aftermath of the fire dulling my brain, urging it to turn away for its beloved sentence making. I have no idea the cause, only that I have little desire to write these days. But, it’s the third Wednesday of the month, and I made a commitment to blog, so here I am, feeling like an imposter writing about writing. 

And why should I feel like an imposter? I’ve been writing pretty much nonstop for years. Five published novels! Shit! And another in the hopper. And not only that. Lately, I’ve been reading back on all my old journals and letters. I have them going back all the way to eighth grade. Maybe that’s why I’m not inclined to write right now. Maybe I’ve used up all my thoughts! Maybe the coffers are empty. Which is kind of exciting to think about because that means I get to refill them.

And I have to admit, in this absence of writing, I’ve been doing lots of other things. As I said, we painted our house. That was big. I crocheted a blanket for my sweet nephew who just moved into his first solo apartment. I’ve catalogued all of the Fun Institute’s improv exercises. I’ve just begun painting the kitchen. I’ve been gardening up a storm. Riding my bike. Doing yoga. Playing my ukulele. Just started to learn a bit of Qi Gong. In essence, I’ve been living instead of writing about living. It feels good.

But I do love to make up stories and know I will get back to it soon. In the meantime, this is what you get, a writer who isn’t currently writing. And I don’t think it’s writer’s block, which I don’t really believe in anyway. But what I gather from those who claim to experience it: it’s the desire to write without the… discipline? ability? I’m not really sure. But here’s the thing. I really have no desire to write at the moment. Although, truthfully, I am enjoying this little ramble. But you see where I’m going with this, it’s not writer’s block if you don’t want to write. Otherwise, you could say every non-writing person in the world, whether they want to write or not, is experiencing writer’s block, which is just plain silly.

And here’s what I think about writing. If you don’t want to do it, don’t. If you do, do. Unless you’re under contract. That’s a whole other country. Or unless you’re making a living at it. That too: another country. Otherwise, write for the joy of it. Write because you want to. And don’t head-trip yourself about it. Life is challenging enough without your head-trips, without your “I shoulds.” (Like an acting-teacher friend of mine used to say: “Don’t should all over yourself!”) But really, there are so many other fun ways to spend your time.

So that’s it for today. Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you ever just stopped doing something that you used to do all the time? Have you experienced writer’s block? Or ever just stopped writing? Or maybe you want to tell me about your pet bunny. Really, I’m open to it all, because these days, I’m just sitting back and taking it all in, wondering, What on earth next? So hang in, hang on, and remember to live the love, it’s all we’ve got!

9 comments

  1. Thank goodness for Women and Words. After submitting a blog all too similar to yours and even Ashley’s, it’s gratifying to know I’m in good company. Just starting a new book after my hiatus and goldarnit, why can’t I ever remember how hard it is. Thanks for a good, as always, essayette.

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  2. Hey Lee, Thank you for checking in. Yeah, we all seem to be in a weird state of… what? I dunno. Shock? Stupor? Rage? Fear? Actually, trying not to dip into fear when staying alert is called for. Good luck with your new book. Hope I get inspired to write another…

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  3. To tell you the truth, I think we all need a time when we can say it’s just fine not to write, and not feel guilty about it! Seems like every time a book is finished, publisher (okay, tongue in cheek) asks me when the next one will be on her desk. No pressure! I start working on another one even before I’m done with the one I’m on. Good for you taking some time away. Time to say you don’t feel like it right now. Really—good for you!

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  4. Hi, Cliffi–I’m blogging about this RIGHT NOW, and shouting-out to you. I’m not writing at the moment. I have not really engaged with writing since the pandemic started, as I’ve had to funnel my energies into other things. And that’s okay by me. I’ve been doing a fuck-ton of reading (I read lots of nonfiction), so I don’t feel like I’m not engaging with some aspect of writing. It’s just that right now, writing is not in the stars. It’ll probably come back again, but all the things I’m dealing with — all the things we’re all dealing with — I can’t do the writing thing right now. And I feel like that’s okay.

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    • That’s super interesting to me. I have some friends who are writing more, burying themselves in stories, words, and other like you and me, who can’t seem to put what we’re thinking/feeling into words at all. I’m reading a lot too. And experimenting with other kinds of creativity. Who knows how it will all turn out, who we will become… But you writing made me feel as though I’m in good company. Happy not-writing to you.

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  5. i can relate to this only too well. I’ve also blogged about my lack of impetus to write. Having had 10 books published over the last seven years, it does feel strange not to have a project on the go. Usually at this time of year I would have a contract signed for the next book release, and be working on a new one. But, as others have said, it can’t be forced – so why not try to enjoy the break. The words will come back eventually, I hope.

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