Sometimes the goal of a writer isn’t writing; sometimes the goal is surviving.
I was hoping that today’s post would be, “The Terrible Burden of Doing Nothing.” After literal weeks of no recharging time for this introvert, I had set aside Friday as a chance to form a little cocoon. It’d be an opportunity to read for fun or write. The only thing I had set to do today was a load of dishes and play with the kids.
Step one of that process was, of course, sleeping in. The kids didn’t have school, and I had no ministry appointments, so there was no reason I had to get up early.
For some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep until past one they night before. And then my baby daughter decided to start her screaming at 5:30. And then the tornado warning at 7:30 kinda had to get me out of bed.
Did you know that contrary to popular belief, sleep exhaustion doesn’t aid creativity? It’s true that it can cut down on inhibitions depending who you are, but writing down that stream of consciousness, at least for me, isn’t always gold fiction. Or, you know, ever.
Next, our neighbor desperately needed help. She had secured all the help she needed for an estate sale today, and a few of her assistants bailed yesterday morning. So instead of cocooning, I was over at her home, making small talk with several women and giving very real emotional support to my neighbor. And yes, filling in for that missing help. Good to do, but it was hardly recharging.
And then it was time to take the kids to a trampoline park we’d promised them. Real joy to see them celebrate, yes, but again, it was hardly a chance for me to rest.
And now here I am, nine at night, exhausted, typing up a blog post.
I’ve written nothing for fun for about two weeks now, and it’s been even longer since I tackled writing fiction for fun. My ministry has been crazy, but pastors kind of expect that on the lead-in to Easter. Right now I’m not really writing; right now I’m just surviving.
As I said: sometimes the goal isn’t writing. Sometimes the goal is survival.
There are seasons of life when a writer cannot pour out the inky heart within. There are times when pressures and emergencies mean that the stories remain concealed inside the folds of the brain.
Here’s the trick for the writer: Don’t let this become normal. Let it be a season, and only a season.
Survive for this season. Push through. Do what you must to keep moving. Don’t believe the lie that to be a writer you must write every day.
Maybe depression stays your hand. Maybe exhaustion as you’re working so many hours a week steals the energy to write. Maybe you have a new child that means you get no sleep. These things happen. Life happens.
Let the season pass. Keep the stories close. Jot down the ideas if you can so you don’t lose them in the flurry of the season.
And when this season passes, return. Write again.
Remember: This season will end. This day of stress will pass. As Ray Bradbury wrote, “There will come again soft rains.”
Today was not a day of nothing. Today was not a day of rest.
But today is at an end. Tomorrow will dawn again. And my ministry returns after the pause of today; it’s time to scurry and get ready for Easter. And this season preparing for Easter will end.
And then I shall write again.
Your season keeping you from writing will end. Return again to the blank page.