It’s Okay to Not Write

As writers we often get a lot of well-meaning, but ultimately harmful advice. One such example is the adage, ‘write what you know’ which has some truth to it, but leaves non-scientist science-fiction writers and purely imaginative fantasy writers out in the cold. Another bit of advice I hear a lot is ‘write every day’ or the even more potentially harmful saying, ‘writers write.’

96310b6a9f48e71a3d47f7be9699d5cbThese sayings come from a good place, but to those writers who aren’t currently writing, they can come across as a bit… judgmental. Writing is an art. It is a passionately driven creative endeavor that takes a lot of time, energy, and focus. It is also sometimes dependent on that creative spark that prompts artists to create. Sometimes writers find themselves between projects or on a break and sayings like ‘writers write’ can make those writers feel shame for not writing. It can make them feel less than writers, which is blatantly false.

Now, I’ve given the advice, ‘write every day’ or ‘write as often as possible’ on this blog and when asked for writing advice. What I meant was, write every day, where possible, while you are working on a writing project. The goal here is to stay motivated and ‘in the zone’ so to speak so that the words flow more easily and you don’t lose sight of the various plot threads you are weaving. It is not to intimidate anyone into thinking they are doing it wrong if they don’t write day in and day out.

Writing, especially something the length of a novel, takes a lot out of a person. It is perfectly okay and acceptable to take some time off afterwards. Also, no two writers are alike and their processes differ as much as their levels of experience do. Some writers will need or want more or less time to complete a project and more or less time between projects as well. And this is fine!

So yes, writers write, but they don’t have to be doing it all the time to be considered writers. Sometimes its okay to wait for one’s muse to visit. Sometimes that results in better ideas and a healthier outlook on this art we call writing.



7 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Not Write

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  1. Great post, I really enjoyed reading your insight. I agree with you. Unless you are working against some real (not self-imposed) timeline, you should be enjoying the craft – not forcing yourself to adhere to some made up principle.

    I feel many people look at writers block as an obstacle to overcome, instead of accepting it as just part of the process. Obviously, if you haven’t written in weeks or months this may be a problem. But in the shorter run, I believe our creative whirlpool stops turning every now and then for a reason. It might be the muses way of saying, “Go read a book, binge watch Netflix until your eyes glaze over, take a walk – just do something else for a few days.”

    Also when you say the writing process is different for each person, I agree wholeheartedly. One of my friends finishes a first-draft, and start the next book immediately. Then once he finishes the next first-draft, he begins editing the first one. There are no breaks. For him, that works. For me, it would crush my writing soul.

    Now that I have rambled on, I will say thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good luck in your work and may the muse always be in your favor.


  2. Wonderful post! It’s about time a publisher said this! Writers are not machines, and need to process their stories fully. Writing is about going with the flow, and sometimes writers have to pull into port to weather the storm in their life. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you. This piece has been very helpful to me, being unable to commit to a writing project at this time and being frustrated with not being able to write every day or anything at all lately because its just not ‘there’. It certainly makes me feel less like I’m doing nothing as a writer.


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