This week’s writing tip doesn’t come from a writing book, it comes from me and my 20-odd years of experience in the business.
Writing is hard enough without trying to figure out where to fit it into our crazy days. If you have young kids at home you are likely juggling nap times and play days and dance lessons or Little League. If you have day job you have to figure out where in your already packed day you you find a few minutes to sit down and write. And let’s not forget things like cooking and cleaning and time with your partner. And sleep. In my house there is never enough time for sleep.
If you’re anything like me there are times when you simply can’t write.
So don’t. Give yourself permission to not write. Tell yourself you absolutely can’t write until a certain date. Take the weight off your shoulders and say enough – I will write when I am able to again.
It’s okay. Really.
Many of us start off writing by reading books about how to get started writing – or nowadays reading blogs about the business. And those books and blogs can be very helpful.
Except when they’re not.
For years I thought I had to write every day and if I didn’t write every day I was no longer a writer. Now I’m already pretty good at heaping the guilt on my shoulders but every day I didn’t write because a kid was sick or I was sick or in later years because life was just so darn overwhelming, well I felt worse and worse. Now I’ll admit that when I don’t write every day I am rusty when I get back at it. It takes a bit longer to sink into a story and I write a lot more crummy stuff before I get to the juicy stuff. But that’s okay. I’ve sold a lot of books and articles over the years and taking some time off doesn’t cancel that out.
The one personal rule I have tried to stick with for the last 5 or 6 years has been to do just one thing to advance my career or build my business every day. When I’m in writing mode that might mean to just write, to get words on the page. But when I’m in a time of upheaval as I am now it is a good time to do other things, to attend to the business side of my career.
So there’s the tip for the week. Actually two.
If you are at a time in your life where you can’t write for some reason, give yourself permission to not write.
And every day try to do just one thing to build your career.
Write on, right now. Or not.
Thanks. I needed that.
You’re welcome. We all need to be reminded once in a while.
I remember you giving me this advice at one of my low points. It’s great advice! I am finally coming to accept that I have writing “spurts” from Sept-early Nov. and then again from mid January through mid April. That’s it. I probably can’t do much about it for several years. Once I realized that, it really took the pressure off!
Glad it worked for you. I keep needing to re-remind myself.
I’ve found that I cannot write during the summer. I cannot. Once school is out for the summer, that’s it. I need to be able to zone and settle into the writing and when you’re chasing a pair of active 8yos… you just don’t have the time. And by the time they’re in bed, I’m exhausted! I just want to unwind and sleep.
I’m so glad you wrote this.
Oh I remember those days well when my kids were little. You do the best you can with what you have at the moment.
Same here! Summer is nigh impossible for so many reasons. I try now to just do what I can and take notes, lots of notes, for the future.
Yes, I do that too, take lots of notes. I even find that reading is too much at times and have to remind myself that quiet is good.
Thank you for this. It is a wonderful gift.
You’re very welcome.
Wonderful, Susan. So glad to hear you giving yourself this permission you deserve, and sharing it with others, too.
I’m trying, Laura. I’m trying. 🙂
When I get into those phases where I can’t seem to write, I’m reminded of what one of my writing mentors said to me–good coffee needs time to perk, the percolation time is as important as the writing time. I’ve also found that when I then come back to writing it feels *so* good, like having a delicious meal after being starved.