Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing, interupted

Sometimes, I don’t know what to write.
Sometimes I sit in front of the computer and I want to write, but nothing happens.
Sometimes I’ve been looking forward to my writing time all day.
Sometimes I’ve been running through a particular scene or sequence for hours.
And still…nothing happens.


This isn’t writers’ block.

Writers’ block, in my opinion is a pattern that is sustained. It’s the black hole into which all your creativity, enthusiasm, and basic ability to string words together has flowed. For ages.

This is not that.

This is…well, I’m not sure what this is. Fatigue, in some cases, probably. Spent an entire shift at the day job playing mental catch-up the whole time, talking at and across and above each other until you’ve lost the ability to speak English, and—surprise!—you’re not magically reinvigorated the second you get home.

Sometimes, for those pantsers amongst us, it’s our brain’s way of saying, “Hang on, now. Something’s not working here. I don’t know yet what it is, but why don’t you go and watch some TV and I’ll get the subconscious to poke around a bit and see if we can sort it out.” It’s always handy to have a WIP on standby for these situations, because sometimes it takes a while for the subconscious to come through with a result.

And sometimes it’s just because you just don’t feel like writing.

And that’s okay, too. We write because we need to, and because we enjoy it. There are enough external forces out there preparing to suck all the fun out of writing for us, without us doing their job for them.

So give yourself a break.

Watch some TV. Go for a walk. Play with the dog (you know she wants to). Try reading a book, instead of writing one.

Your story will still be there tomorrow, and you’ll be able to look at it with new eyes.

Because sometimes that’s exactly what you need. 


  1. Spot on, Jen. I like to call this Writer Can't Be Bothered but now I've read your post, Writer's Fatigue is far less harsh on myself.

    Sometimes you've got to stop before you can move on. Thank you!

    1. Writer's Fatigue sounds like something you could actually be diagnosed with...let's call it that!

  2. What about naps? Naps are good, too, right?

    As Arthur Dent put it, "I don't think I can cope with anymore of this. I think I'll just go and have a little lie down somewhere."

    1. Naps are absolutely necessary! I've always advocated a good nap.

      And Arthur Dent is my heroic ideal. Slippers, pyjamas, and modest ambitions.

  3. Sometimes a break is all you can do. I don't force myself to write when I feel that way. And I always return to my computer refreshed, so I don't sweat it.

    Great post!

    1. I think you run the risk of actually getting proper writer's block if you try and force creativity when it doesn't want to come. It's so much better to walk away and stop putting the pressure on yourself.



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