When a Writer Doesn't Want to Write

I experienced something for the first time this year. 

After turning in my second book to my editor, I found that I didn't want to write. Oh, I get lazy once in a while. Choosing to watch an episode of The Vampire Diaries or stalking Ian Somerhalder on Twitter instead of opening that Word document. But something about this was different, and I knew it. I had finished a contracted manuscript, there was still some summer left, and there was all this time to start something new. And I didn't. Because when I thought about beginning a new project, I came up with a complete and blinding blank.

It was a sensation that was worrying and awful, because ever since I could pick up a pen - or, in my case, a marker - I have been writing. I have had ideas. I have had this almost overwhelming need to create stories and get words down into something palpable. This August, though, I closed Microsoft Word and it stayed closed. There was utterly no desire to try again. 

It led to sleepless nights and anxious messages to my fellow Lucky 13 members. Was I the only one dealing with this? Was it permanent? Had I finally run out of creative juices? Writing may not define me as a person, but up until that point it had been a huge part in who I was. Without it, I felt lost. Yet something kept me from actually doing it. Some part of me may have sought distractions, in new hobbies and spending time with friends and working.

Well, that's good, isn't it? someone might ask. Actually, yes, it was. Because I had been so consumed with finishing book two, these were things I hadn't done much of for weeks. Maybe months. I realize this makes writing sound like soul-sucking work. Honestly, some days, it can be. I've talked before about how grateful I am and how amazing it is to have a publisher. But with this comes the point where you don't get to write just when you feel like it or when inspiration hits, you write because your deadline is coming up and you have to make it.

So there I was, weeks of summer left. Normally I would seize this time and hurry to finish another manuscript before school started. Instead, I did everything but. After a while, the guilt and the fear got tiring, and I let it go.

Eventually I did figure it out. There wasn't an exact date or time that the answer occurred to me. It came gradually, in pieces and parts and feelings. I returned to the laptop and typed a few words. I did it again a few days later. And a few days after that. And now it's October and I'm so excited about a manuscript that I'm over halfway through. 

So why didn't I want to write? What was the big answer? Simple: I was tired.

That's it. There was no deeper meaning to my lack of desire to write. I had put everything I had into book two and I was a battery that needed recharging. Maybe writers are prone to panic, or maybe it's just a select few of us. Several other of my fellow Lucky 13 friends felt the same way. So if I learned anything in all this, one lesson over the summer, it's that writers need breaks. We feel like we should be constantly creating or striving for a word count or typing "the end". And most months out of the year, that's true. If we go a stretch of time where we just watch TV and binge with friends, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There should be no guilt. We are human, and though we are writers, it shouldn't be everything. It shouldn't suck us dry. It could be about balance, or it could be about taking that much-needed break.

And now I'm off to have lunch with some friends. Have a great week, everyone!