It’s Okay to Not Write Sometimes, or How I Spent the Last Two Weeks

It is a fact that this author, upon completing a book, faced with the challenge of writing another book in short order, will stare into the abyss and say, “Not today, Satan.”

There are always these moments of resistance, of post-marathon fatigue* where I really, truly do not want to write a book.

I used to resist such moments, used to trash talk myself and feel bad for wanting to do nothing more than read and play games and bake and do things other than write Chapter One again.

This time around, I did not scold myself so much. I didn’t feel as guilty about doing other things when I neglected the next book. I’ve come to recognize that when my mind appears fallow it is gathering resources, regaining the power needed to structure another world, another story, another time. Part of writing is imagining and to imagine big you need time and space.

When I did sit down, at last, to work, it seemed possible to write a new world, if not easy, which is no small thing.

There is a lot of writerly advice out there saying you must write every day and a writer “always” writes and to type words, even nonsense words, until you hit the gold vein of imagination. To be a writer, you should write, certainly. You should write at times when you don’t much feel like it, but not every day. And not if you feel yourself still gathering strands of story, unready to braid, because the tensile strength is not there yet.

For me, becoming a better writer has been recognizing when pouring gasoline onto the pressure fire of writing tasks is a good move and when it is not. And these past two weeks? I have been thinking about the story I will write, about what it needs and what it doesn’t, and how I might best approach it. It hasn’t been time lost. It was time gained in an area outside word count.

Now I am back, writing a book, and when I am done I will not rail when, confronted by the next book, I wander away in search of ice cream. Because ice cream is delicious.

*I am guessing wildly here, the longest run I’ve been on falling 22.5 miles short of a marathon.


  1. Bryan Fagan

    Sometimes we need to put on the breaks and stop for a while. There doesn’t have to be a reason. Taking time to do what you want makes writing a novel feel less like a job and more like magic. So go! Ride that unicycle you’ve been itching to try. Sure you’ll regret it but the pictures will be worth it. 🙂

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