What happened when I didn’t want to write anymore

The morning is murky blue-black. The snow-covered ground shimmers under the moonlight. I am awake at my usual hour but having trouble writing. Again. Eighth day in a row. I take my coffee to the window and study the crooked silhouette of the apple tree, branches shattered by the storm. In the yard, I see movement, stealthy, slow—three deer grazing the barren bushes. While they graze, I think about the new book I’m supposed to be writing, am more interested in watching deer tread cautiously at the edge of dawn.

My writing is suffering. The ideas are there, but, like the deer in the yard, hover with each step, wary, nervous, ready to flee at the first hint of danger.

I am experiencing a writing crisis, have no desire to work on my newest project. I have my coffee, and my 4 a.m. writing block all to myself, yet feel no pull toward my study, my writing habitat. How did this happen? How could a lover of words, a story-brewer, not want to write?

Reasons for this malady abound. Stressed trying to fit writing into the maze of Life; overtired; loss of oomph, heart; writing burn-out, wobbly faith.

Oh, and fear. Of some villain, indestructible, immortal, planted in the middle of my path. That appears at unexpected times, scary enough to stop me from pursuing my quest, to keep me from taking another step out of my comfort zone.

Not writing is an option. I have tinkered with that option in the past. I mean, why push myself beyond my comfort zone if it is creating such anxiety?

But when I think about what life looks like when I don’t write, strange things rise from that stirred-up pot. I set my heart on this, since I was small and fell in love with Peter Pan. This is what I believed I would do.

Why is it so easy to believe the unreal when you’re a kid, but not when you’re a grown-up and you actually have to make the unreal real?

As I look out the window, at the deer picking their way across the snow, I wonder about the fears they have to face. Yet, they’re still out there. Vulnerable but determined. They aren’t hiding, aren’t cowering. Quite simply, there are some things we have to do. Deer must eat, writers must write.

But “must write” isn’t enough for me today. There has to be another reason to believe this is where I belong, crafting stories. I know I must—but for what purpose?

Trudging back upstairs, coffee in hand, I think about what will happen if I don’t write. I have already avoided writing for over a week. What’s another day? I can’t keep doing this to myself. I don’t relish struggling again. No interest in proving to myself I’m not worthy. So I won’t write. I’ll just read some emails, look at Facebook, just take a day off. Tomorrow, I’ll try to write.

Enter the wolves.

Just when I need a reason, a motivation to write again, I come across an inspiring video (below). An astonishing surge of hope and belief moves through me. Not just for the wolves or the ecosystem, but for my place in this world.

I am reminded that “must write” is two-fold. The desire to write must pulse within me every day, just to get me to the page and begin. The second part to this desire, what keeps me at the page, is knowing why I’m writing. My purpose.

For me, I write to explore things that matter. As a crafter of story, be it fiction or real, I have always been motivated by writing about something in this world that matters to me above and beyond my own life. Something that I can impact in my own way. Something that I should speak up for.

Writing because I must write is a good first step, but it doesn’t get me past my comfort zone. It doesn’t strengthen me in times of trouble.

When I lose the heart, when I don’t want to write anymore, writing about something that matters steers me back to my journey. I am eager to write as long as something or someone in my heart needs a voice. And the joy, the satisfaction, the determination that result link me to the next thing that matters. And the writing continues.

I had no use for a blog post for the past month or so. Had no desire to think about my next writing project. Didn’t miss my characters or fictional settings.

Until I watched this video.

And now I want to write again. If only to be a voice.

0 thoughts on “What happened when I didn’t want to write anymore”

  1. Glad you’ve found your inspiration again, Kate. Great little video too. A major landowner in Scotland is lobbying to reintroduce wolves and other apex predators back into the ecosystem. Stories like this are so uplifting.

    • Great news about the landowner in Scotland. I didn’t know that wolves are indigenous to that area, and I hope they thrive. Wolves have always been very inspiring to me, and I was really fortunate to have come across the video when I did.

      • I believe that healthy, natural spaces are good for the soul, even if it’s just knowing they’re out there.

        And, yes, wolves, bears, lynx and elk were all indigenous to Britain until they were hunted to extinction.

  2. For me there’s always a sense of loss when I finish something and send it off. I stand around, twiddling my thumbs and rocking back and forth while I hum a mindless ditty. All in an effort to figure out what to do next (because we all know I don’t have fifty other projects to dive into.) It’s hard sometimes to get back into things. I’m glad you’ve found something to inspire you and rekindle the flame.

    • Now that you bring it up, Kathi, I think that I have experienced that sense of loss before. I just didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. All day I have been thinking about the characters I used to spend so much time with. It’s like losing a friend in a way.

      I hear you about trying to figure out what to do when we can’t write, as if we don’t have families, jobs, chores, homes, errands. Nothing can fill the hole that writing leaves behind. Nothing else is good enough.

  3. the novel is all and leaving you with nothing is not surprising. But the sap is rising in the season – of which we are an integral part. Glad you are hearing the call of the wild again 🙂

    • Indeed, the sap is rising. The other day I passed a whole grove of tapped maple trees. I love the sight of those buckets hanging from the tree. And I love how you make the connection with sap. Perfect!

  4. Kate, I’m not a religious person, think there’s too much wrong in the world, and has been for too long, but there are times when I acknowledge the soft, fuzzy, aspects of our individual lives. Stay with me.

    I awoke at 4:30am; bathroom call! Back in bed, listening to the rain on the roof, realised I couldn’t sleep. Started thinking about my NaNoWriMo book that needed a major rewrite on from the 25,000 word point. Then my mind wandered to my blog, how long ago since that ‘someone’ awarded me the Versatile Blogger award! Do you remember? Wondered how you were? Missed your writings.

    At 4:52 I sat up in bed, Jeannie fast asleep next to me, dogs Hazel and Sweeny likewise fast asleep on the bed, and turned on the tablet and browsed my in-box.

    There was this post from you!

    Funny old world, isn’t it!

    • Truly, very strange, Paul! We are connected, just like that video shows us. On the same note, I was thinking about one of my old characters. He’s a football player. While I was pondering one of his scenes, a van pulls up outside of the building I’m in. Who should pile out of the van?

      High school football players.

      ‘Tis a funny old world.

  5. Love this video am going to have to post it to my FB as for a voice it was amusing that my dogs perked up at the wolf call, maybe we could all do with a good howl every now and again 😀

    • Nature in all of its forms is truly inspiring, you’re right. Wolves are my top favorite, but my heart goes out to all of the wild things who find themselves in trouble.

  6. Good to “see” you! I just finished my MS and feel other work already piling on. It’s such process! It’ll be months before its professionally edited and ready for me to query…
    Glad you found inspiration!

    • It feels strange to be gone for this long, because it was unplanned. Usually, I know when I’m going to take a break. I don’t like these out-of-the-blue writing slumps. Good luck with your book and the editing and query process. I’m headed down that road myself!

  7. Congrats on getting your book off to your betas. I’m sure that was a welcome milestone. We all need decompression and a chance to reassess our goals and aspirations. Glad you found a bit of mojo again. I suspect it won’t be long until you are once again at full speed. 🙂

    • I was really happy to finish it, and I made my deadline which is even nicer. I wasn’t expecting this backhanded slap though, and it really threw me off course. Next time, I’ll be ready for that sucker punch!

  8. As you know, I love that video too. I think it’s inspirational in so many ways. The first thing is the title “How wolves change rivers”, to me it was one of those “wow” titles that you can’t help but to be drawn in to. It arouses curiosity. Secondly, it is just beautiful, the scenery, the wildlife, breathtakingly beautiful. And thirdly the confirmation that everything in nature is interlinked, and that as humans we have a huge responsibility, because individually, and collectively, we make a difference. I say all that because I think it’s all transferable to our writing, or whatever else it is we need inspiration and motivation for.

    • It was such a neat surprise to see that you linked it to me, as I was in the middle of writing my post. I even had doubts about posting the video because I don’t usually do stuff like that on the blog. Not everyone wants to hear about it. But there are so many stories out there of wildlife that I’d love to write about and share because of how they make me feel. Like I’m doing something when I write about it, even if it is a teeny-tiny step. It’s better than staying silent.

  9. Your novel may have “zapped” your energy for the present, but as one of your betas, I can attest to the quality of the project that all of that labor created. Wow, that was wordy. How about “You’ve written a wonderful story with great characters, and I didn’t jot down any comments on my first read because I was enjoying the story too much”?

    Those “lulls” will happen, either when we produce a story like you have and send it out to the world or when we need a breather in the middle of the marathon that is novel writing. I’m glad you found the impetus to send you back to the keyboard because I can’t wait to read your next story!

    • Thank you, JM. It means a lot to know that you enjoyed the story. And I like how you phrased it both ways. 😉

      Now that I understand why I’m having this lull, I feel okay about it. It’s not like I was suffering from the writing blues or depression. It was more of a restlessness. And I didn’t enjoy it because I should have been celebrating the fact I actually finished a book that was ready for critique. Oh well, next time, I’ll be ready for whatever curve ball my emotions throw me.

  10. I go into a bit of a post-novel slump when I finish writing a book, but perk up again when I start the next. I love the video and it’s amazing that all this has happened since 1995! I would think it would take 100 year to change a landscape. Wonderful and inspiring! 😀

    • The video is amazing, and I love the message. I think it makes sense that I feel this way after pouring so much into a book. I hadn’t done that in a long time, and I wasn’t prepared for the after-effects. Next time, I’ll be ready! 🙂

  11. Kate! That is such an affirming video…it blows my mind. And it’s interesting, isn’t it? As with nature, so with life, with writing… There have to be fallow periods, when we regenerate. Maybe it’s not possible to care and produce all of the time. One needs to be dormant. And that’s okay. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Alarna, isn’t that video amazing? You’re right, there do have to be fallow periods. I’m an impatient person, so fallow periods don’t usually suit me too well. 😉 However, if I can plan for them I handle them much better. And that was the problem here: I was unprepared. Next time, I’ll be ready.

  12. Love, love, love this, Kate! So true that the moment we lose sight of our creative purpose, we falter. That is exactly what happened to me last year when I steered away from my blog to start up the Yoga blog. Then, I knew it wasn’t right and bowed out gracefully. I’m glad I explored another avenue, so I knew where my heart wanted to stroll.

  13. Yes, sometimes it takes a diversion to remind us where we truly belong. More than once, I have wondered about writing and whether it’s still the right path. But, every time I consider doing something else, the universe steps in and points me back to writing. I guess that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I should quit. 😉

  14. Thanks for sharing the inspiration. As we writers, I think we all pass through this phase intermittently. We once again realize our reasons for writing and somehow get back on the horse.

    • Hi D.G., After having been a writer for so long, you’d think I’d be used to this kind of roller coaster path of emotion. Nope. It’s good to hear from other writers that is similar to what they go through. Thanks for swinging by.

  15. It’s great to hear that your novel is out to betas. I can see why you would need to decompress for a time. Bu, It is great to have you back at the blog. I know I’ve been lax on my blog of late. though I do have some ideas percolating.

    Wolves are amazing creatures and have great power. I’m glad they reached out to you and lifted you up. Have a great day Kate!

    • I have been trying to keep up with fellow bloggers during this time, but it’s been hard. However, I have noticed I haven’t seen your name on my email notification list as often as I would like to! Glad to know you are working behind the scenes, though.

      Wolves do have amazing power. Especially if they can reach to me from across the country. 😉

  16. Hi Kate! I’ve missed you 🙂 So glad you are writing. I’d love to hear about your project. I’m at the point that I need some more beta readers. How did you find a good group? Besides me, of course, haha! As for lack of motivation, it’s been SO dang cold here I think we all want to hibernate. I think I heard it might get to 40 this weekend; that would be amazing! As for wolves, sometimes at night I hear them and I howl back…

    • Hey Amy, it’s so cool to hear from you. I haven’t seen any notifications from your blog. Are you still posting? As I write this, I’m noticing that your avatar is no longer the monster with its tongue sticking out, but an actual shot of you. That makes me think you moved to WordPress. How did I miss that? Did you start a new blog through WP? Obviously, I need to find out!

      In response to your beta readers question — I wanted to ask you if you’d be a reader, actually. But because I hadn’t seen you posting I figured things were crazy at home and I didn’t want to bother you. I found a good reader through blogging, and then I hooked up with a couple of writers locally. We started meeting once a week.

      We need that 40 degree weather. Yesterday was once of the nicest days in about a month, and it was barely thirty degrees. But, after so many days of below zero weather, I’ll take anything above 20. 😉

  17. That was a great video, Kate. I grew up in interior Alaska and the wolves’ howling bring back memories. They are majestic creatures. I’ve never heard such a dialogue as this, such positive reflection on what wolves do for/rather than against. Thanks for sharing it.
    And…so glad you’ve got your game back on too!! 😉

    • Hi Denise, what I wouldn’t give to hear the howl of a wolf in the wild. I’m a big supporter of wildlife, endangered wildlife to be even more precise. The video was helpful to me in a time that I needed it–got my game back on!–and I hope it inspires others.

  18. Amazing video, I too love wolves, but what’s so special here is the way the video shows what a difference one lost link in the chain can make. And I think that’s a lesson for our writing too – we don’t know what difference it could make – maybe not changing the course of rivers, but it could inspire someone to change the course of their life.

    • Hard to imagine until you see how it all plays out, isn’t it? I feel like we often forget how intricately linked everything in this world is, and that when one part stumbles, all the other parts are affected in some way. I agree with your sentiment about writing. If it’s important to us, then we have the power to use writing in a helpful way.

  19. When I get those burnt out moments, I find pulling back from social media and losing myself in someone else’s story helps. Sometimes I just have to get back to the basics of writing. Of appreciating a great story and watching it unfold. That usually sparks something in me.

    • Yes, writing helps me get back into writing. Eventually. I definitely needed that downtime from writing, though. For me, social media wasn’t as much of a culprit as being a mom was. A lot of pressure to do for others kept me from taking care of myself. Stepping away from writing helped me want it back again. Kind of like dieting. Too many chocolate-free days make me want chocolate again. 🙂

      • Breaks are good. Professors get sabbaticals, so should writers. 🙂 I can’t imagine all the pressures of being a mom and having a business and all your other responsibilities and then writing. You’re amazing!

        • Thanks, Kourtney. Some days I am ready to fall apart at the seams, but I usually manage to hold it together. ;). Taking the break did help, and I will likely take a blogging break this summer like I did last year. That made a big difference.

    • Hey Pete, slumps aren’t fun, but I try to see past the slump and examine the reason behind it. If I can figure out why I’m having a tough time in the first place, I can usually get back into the swing of things. The depressing winter didn’t help, and limited writing time compounded the problem. I hope that you find your way out of your slump-fest soon! 🙂

  20. I just love this video. I’ve watched it twice and am going to send it to two friends of mine who are big wolf supporters. I’m moved by the storytelling, how the land is itself transformed, how everything is connected. And how being moved can get us moving again….. happy writing!

    • So happy that you’re sharing the video, Letizia. I think it’s amazing, too. We writers can see so much more beyond the wonderful message of hope and connectedness. I think we’re able to use these ideas to encourage our creative spirits in a positive way. I always get a surge of energy from underdog stories like this. 🙂

  21. I’m glad you’re re-inspired, Kate. I concur with all the responses stating that we all have slumps. I think it goes in cycles, but in particular it gets wonky after a major project is completed. I wouldn’t exactly call it postpartum depression, but I it’s something like that. After completing any major creative project, many people get anxious or depressed. I did after NaNoWriMo was over. All that creative adrenalin.

    I’ve been in and out of it so many times that when I’m down and out, I just acknowledge it as down time and stick my toe back in as soon as I am able. I’ve stopped worrying about it. I think it was Leonard Cohen who said in an interview that there were several points in his career where he thought he was “done.” That he had lost his creativity and nothing more would inspire him. But then it always returned, every time.

    Welcome back just the same and congrats on getting the book out to Beta Readers!

    • Postpartum depression is probably the most accurate comparison yet. That would make a lot of sense considering we essentially “birthed” something, raised it, then sent it out on its own to see how it fares. 😉

      I think allowing myself to take a break from writing was a good thing, because the separation made me want it back again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

  22. Hi Kate, I feel a bit bad cause it seems I’ve ‘lost’ you in my own process within the blogosphere.. Glad to have found you and reconnect 🙂
    Such an amazing video isn’t it? I’ve shared it some time ago on facebook as well. Wolves are such intelligent and caring animals. I feel deeply related with them.

    • Please don’t feel the need to apologize. I took some time off to finish writing my MG novel, and I lost touch with many bloggers. I’m still trying to wrangle them back in my little blogging corral so that I can catch up with them. 😉

      I love wolves. To me, they represent the message that humans must step up and help the earth and its creatures in any way possible, all because we are at the top of the food chain across the board.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  23. I’ve been absent from my blogs (I had two, because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment) for almost two years for much the same reason. No desire, no real ideas I can work with. I know I want to do something, even if it’s not necessarily writing, but I don’t know what. I’m glad you had a breakthrough, it gives me hope that maybe I will, too.

    I’m pleased for the wolves, too. I love hearing stories about nature recovering from human interference or reclaiming old territories, like in Pripyat. As much as we have a high opinion of ourselves and our accomplishments, we’re not the be-all and end-all of life on this planet.

    • I have been through rough patches before, and I think there is no way I can get through them. However, I always do. Somehow. And it is usually because of something not directly associated with writing, but is important to me. So, I believe that you will have your breakthrough if writing matters enough.

      I agree with you about the wolves and your last words: we are not the be-all and end-all of life. Funny how so many humans think we are though.

      Thank you for swinging by and commenting.

  24. Hi! Susie sent me. I brought you a veggie pizza- hope that’s ok. But seriously, that video’s story was quite amazing and most inspiring. And yes, sometimes you just need to take a short break and then find inspiration to write again. My blog is a journal of sorts for me, and this past winter I definitely had a bit of a dry spell, with nothing that I felt like writing about. Back on the wagon lately though.

    • I love veggie pizza! I always add anchovies to mine though.

      I know a lot of people who use their blog as a journal, and I think that’s a great way to get your thoughts down. Isn’t it funny how even though lots of things are happening to us, we don’t necessarily want to write about them? Sometimes, I think up topics to blog about but I get this leaden weight in my gut, and I feel no excitement over the prospect. I have gotten used to that, and I don’t let it worry me so much. I simply skip a week of blogging and try to relax. Not great if you’re trying to build your stats, but better for your well-being.

      Glad to know that you’re back to the writing. Spring is a great time of year to start back up!

      Thanks for popping in and commenting.

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