The Writer, Writing Process

Knowing When to Write

The hardest part of being a writer for me is finding the motivation to write.  I would love to say I don’t have the time, but my lack of time is merely a time management issue.  I have discovered my lack of time management skills are an exercise in avoidance.

I have been avoiding my computer as of late due to my fear of failure.  I have noticed when I place a deadline or put too much pressure on myself, I have a tendency to avoid the task completely.  This is possibly the true reason I have issues finishing NaNoWriMo.  After forcing myself to write even when I don’t feel like writing, I stifle my own creativity.

One of the lessons I have learned in the course of writing is knowing when to write.  I believe most people’s “writer’s block” is actually the mind’s way of telling you it’s time for a break.  Sometimes the best thing  that can happen to a story is taking an extended break.  You come back with a fresh perspective and new ideas.

When I hit a slump in writing, I look for motivation from my fellow writers, but sometimes it seems to backfire!  I see the motivation and productivity of those around me writing and suddenly I am back to second guessing my own talent.  With questions of why can’t I write a book in that short of a time, or I should really be writing, what is wrong with me?  I start comparing myself to others.  I instantly wonder where they find their motivation and creativity, and why don’t I have motivation like so and so?  It becomes more discouraging than encouraging.  Then I remind myself that we are different our writing styles, personality and lifestyles and I can not fairly compare myself to these other people.

After I hit the bottom of my writer self-esteem, thinking I am not good enough, I typically bounce back with a stronger sense of motivation than ever.  It is a vicious cycle that I have gotten used to over the years.  After the bounce back I am refreshed and ready to start a new project or continue the one I have abandoned.  Recently I have noticed they cyclical nature of my writing slumps.   I can almost see the warning signs of another downward spiral before it occurs.  Even if I can’t recognize it before it occurs, I recognize what I need to do to shorten the length of my writing hiatus.

I have learned when I don’t feel like writing, the ideas have stopped flowing, or I just can’t get a scene to play out write, I know it’s time to take a break.  If I take a few day break from writing instead of forcing the issue, I am back to my creative self much earlier.  Just because I am a writer doesn’t mean I have to be a writing during every free moment I have.  I have also stopped feeling bad when I don’t feel like writing, despite the social pressures of “needing” to write.  Writing is only part of me and to belittle myself for having other interests, just because others seem to outwardly dedicate their lives to writing doesn’t make sense to me.  I love who I am!  I am a writer, a photographer, a yogi, a ferret mama, a nature enthusiast, a cooking fanatic and a lover.  I may not always have the will or time to write, but I will always be a writer!





12 thoughts on “Knowing When to Write”

  1. Good post. I can totally relate to it. I have to remind myself that every writer has their own path, and their life is different from mine. I have a day job, and I don’t have the luxury of not having to work . . . at least not yet. A lot of my author friends do and can churn out books left and right. So I shouldn’t compare myself to them, and I try not to.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. 🙂


    1. I feel that way a lot. And you are right, we each live our own paths. At least with the one I am on right now, I have no regrets. So I don’t write as much as I “should”, but I treasure every moment!


  2. External and internal pressures can easily skew our perspectives on things – it’s good to remember we are all individuals travelling our own paths.
    I recently attended a workshop by the brilliant Scottish poet, Liz Lochhead, where she said, ‘Don’t despair when your writing leaves you. It will come back.’. I thought this was a lovely comment – she went on to say she experienced times when her writing left her, but it had always come back. Encouraging to know that this also happens to great writers.


  3. Like you, I have my ups and downs in writing. I’ve tried pushing myself to continue. Sometimes it works, but more often, it doesn’t. Do I feel bad about it? Sure! But it’s because I love writing, not because someone out there has said something that’s suppose to make me feel bad. I seems to, most often, have to hit bottom before I can make my climb back up to motivation and inspiration. I don’t like it, but that’s the way my mind seems to work. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.


    1. I know that exact feeling! At least we know it’s a cyclical thing and eventually we will get back to the top of that horrid roller coaster 🙂

      I still find it so interesting that we all (writers) seem to go through the same ups and downs, but we feel so alone at times. I think it’s time for more discussion and camaraderie!


  4. Love this post. Many of these words could have come from my own mind. Take the time to refresh, often. I don’t think many of us write well under pressure. Creativity needs freedom to come forth. Congratulations on finding your own style. Your writing, and ultimately your reader will benefit greatly.


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