Everybody’s journey is different. Some of us grow up writing stories and know from an early age that we’re going to spend our life writing stories. Others come to the craft later, but no less hungry; maybe they’re avid readers of an underserved genre and decide they want to write their own story to fill the gap.
One thing I have found consistent between writers is that we all go through seasons. Some of us are in our Spring of writing, just learning (or relearning to love the art). Others have moved into Summer, that prime slice of heaven where the words pour out of your fingers. Some are in Autumn, when the words come a little slower than before. And some of us are in Winter, where it’s too cold to even contemplate writing.
I was one of those kids that wrote stories. Some middle schoolers are worried about clothes, others about video games, or about girls and boys. I wrote a 30,000 word superhero story on my family’s home computer. I never stopped. I spent much of my years growing up in those beautiful Spring and Summer months.
I felt so good, in fact, that I had rewritten my superhero story into something (I thought) fitting to publish. I was twenty-three and Amazon had blown the doors off of the publishing world. So I published it–it seemed like the logical next step. Well, it sold a few copies (mostly to friends and family) and that was the end of it. There were a bunch of factors for why it didn’t sell (namely it was the first novel I finished and it had the quality you can expect), but those factors aren’t the focus of today.
The words came slower after that. I wrote the prequel and part of the sequel, but my desire to publish them faded. It was enough to send me into my first Autumn and eventually into Winter. I quit writing, I quit blogging. I quit dreaming.
At one point during those dark Winter months of my early/mid twenties, I remembered thinking to myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I had written something–anything–and it was what can only be described as an existential crisis. After all, writers write… Right? What the Hell was I if I wasn’t writing?
If you’re a writer and it’s been a while since you’ve written, then maybe you’re in the Winter writing months of your life. You might even be wondering if you’ll ever get back into writing or if you even want to.
I’m here today to tell you that it’s okay to be in those Winter months.
Maybe your new job is stressful or you have a newborn or any other number of life-changing events happened. Let’s face it, unless you’re paying bills with your writing, then there will come a time life will force you to put writing on the back burner. Shit happens.
The important thing to remember is that seasons change.
Maybe you genuinely don’t have enough time or energy to write because of any one of those above-mentioned life changing events. Eventually your kids will get out of diapers and off to school. Your job is only stressful for certain times of the year or maybe you just find another job. Your time management might improve and let you squeeze precious writing time where you didn’t think it possible before.
What if you’re out of ideas? Maybe you just need to immerse yourself in stories you enjoy or better yet, go for a hike and let your mind wander. Maybe all you need is a break, some time to unplug. Try making new art and media. Try writing in a completely different genre.
What if you’re burnt out? Time away might be just what you need. It might be enough to make you miss the blank page.
Or it might not… What if you genuinely never return to writing? Well then that’s okay too. No one that stops writing is a failure–they just might not be a writer. You can be something else. That’s okay. You will find something else to give you the meaning that you once found in writing.
For me, writing seasons came and went. I think deep down I needed that break to realize just how much writing means to me. Winter passed and eventually I found myself in Spring and finally in Summer again.
And damn it’s good to be back.