What About Not Writing?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about creativity with a purpose.  As usual, I banged the drum for writing on a regular basis.  (This is a familiar subject matter for me, as attested to by these posts, too: Getting Up at 5 AM, Techniques for Writing Flow, and Ah, But Here's the Rub, to name only a few.  I can't help it, its what I do!)

For me, and many writers I know, it simply works better to find some time to write very day, or as close to it as possible.  The reasons are many, but mostly boil down to one word: momentum.  Like the proverbial rock rolling down a hill and going faster and faster, your writing will gather speed if you attend to it regularly.  If you don't, there's a lot of time wasted on catch-up, such as trying to remember what the last name of your character is, or in what chapter the murder occurred.  Things like that.

But recently I found some notes from an old MFA lecture (I'm doing a massive purge of papers in my office).  The topic of said lecture was when to write and when to not write.  I was shocked at the not writing part.  But then I remembered a conversation I had recently with my friend and fellow novel goddess Katy, and she said that she goes long stretches without writing.  The nature of her job (for the above-mentioned MFA program) is such that it is difficult to commit to writing on a regular basis.  What she does is go off on intensive week-long writing retreats in which she accomplishes huge spurts of writing. 

So I've been wondering about the whole not writing thing.  I am always afraid that if I don't write, maybe one of these days I simply won't return to it, which is not bloody likely considering it is the single most consistent obsession of my life.  But still, these things I fear do stop me.

Anyone care to make a better case for not writing than I have?

5 thoughts on “What About Not Writing?”

  1. I seem to go for sometimes two weeks before I can get anything written, not because I don’t want to write, but have to many other demands. It’s hard to committ to write at a certain day or time. How do you turn off all the other worries, to do’s and clear your mind to write? Would you address this in a post, please Charlotte?

  2. Sometimes the well goes dry, and time away from writing and into living is necessary. Think of your creativity like a field. If you don’t let it go fallow now and then, it will begin to produce inferior crops until one day, it is so depleted, it can’t provide the necessary nutrients to grow anything. Not writing for long stretches can give you time to think in different directions, resulting in even more creative juice, too.

  3. I can’t figure out any reason why NOT to write, unless it is a pure practical situation where you can’t hold a pen and paper right at the moment.

    Even if it is not writing on THE script/novel/what ever writing is important to do and personally I can’t find any reason NOT to write. It is what I do. It is what I am.

  4. When the well has run dry, it is a great idea to take a break from writing. But that break can be as short as 10 minutes, or longer like a week. Being a writer is more than just the act of writing, it’s a way of listening to the world for stories, a way of experiencing moments in life. I find it wonderful to be a writer while not writing. While taking a walk, observing my next-door neighbor, or – of course – reading! I listen to the stories that I tell myself and sift out the gems from the chaff. There are sources of inspiration all around us that will always bring us back to the pen and paper.

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