What should you do when you don’t want to write anymore?
September 7, 2015
IT IS NOT AN EASY LIFE being a writer.
You write every day.
Some days, you can’t wait to nail the next scene together.
Who falls in love?
Whose heart breaks?
You can’t wait to see what happens, or how it happens, or why it happens.
On other days, it takes every ounce of willpower you have to drag yourself back before the blank screen of a word machine that demands so much of you and hardly ever gives anything back.
It’s not writer’s block.
You have the scene in mind.
You know what to write.
It’s just that you’d rather do something else.
But you don’t.
You’re facing a deadline.
And most of the time, it’s the deadline you created for yourself.
Miss it, and nothing happens.
But you can’t afford to miss it.
It’s vital that make something happen on paper today.
Don’t know why.
But it is.
So you sit alone.
And you write alone.
And these are the days you hate every word you hammer onto the screen.
Will the story ever end?
Who gives a damn if it does?
For the last month or so I’ve sat with several authors who are worn down and burnt out with the whole process of being a writer.
Their stories are great.
Their writing is exquisite.
Their books are top of the line.
But who buys them?
Who reads them?
Who can even find them?
They are drowning in social media.
As one told me this week, “I know how to write. I like to write. I like to tell stories. But I’m not sure I want to do it anymore.”
He has 25,000 words written on his next novel.
The manuscript has been sitting in his word machine for two months.
“Are you gonna finish it?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says.
“Do you have an idea for another book?”
“I’m full of ideas.”
“What are you gonna do with them?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re a damn good writer,” I tell him.
“Those who read my books say the same thing,” he says.
He shrugs again.
“It’s just that not that many people read my books.”
It’s a malady that sometimes discourages us all.
Writing is not about making money, although we would all like to turn our words into money.
Writing is all about having someone read our stories.
The readers are out there.
But how do we find them?
Nobody browses through books on Amazon the way they always browsed through titles in bookstores.
Our books are uploaded on Amazon.
Our books go live.
Our books vanish.
If no one finds them or sees them, the books don’t exist.
I don’t know what to tell my friends who are growing weary of writing.
I don’t’ know what to tell myself when the blues hit.
And the blues are always dancing around out there, waiting to strike.
All I can do is cling to the words of Stephen King who wrote:
Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.
Sometimes you need to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.
So I only give two words of advice to my writing friends.
It doesn’t make them feel any better.
But the words form a hard truth that we all need to take to heart.
Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Secrets of the Dead.