permission to NOT write

Last week I had coffee with Stacey, a fresh college grad and newlywed.  She has a degree in English from my alma mater, and we talked about how she hasn’t had any energy to write lately.  Faced with student loans for an English degree, she feels like she should be writing, but she is just so completely burnt out from her senior project.

I told her the same thing happened to me after college.  I was so exhausted in pretty much every possible way that I didn’t write for three years, I told her.  But I didn’t waste my time either: I read like crazy, tons and tons of great literature, which was essentially like planting seeds into the field of my mind.  I began to harvest years later.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this.

It is still productive to the writing life to take a break from writing.

Quick clarification: I do believe that– in an appropriate season– it is important to force oneself to write through issues.  This is different than being in a season of rest.  I am in a harvesting season right now, and so I sometimes force myself to write, even when I don’t necessarily feel inspired.

It is the difference between the days of rest/no exertion after an injury and the days of rehab that follow.

I have never regretted my three-year hiatus from writing after college graduation.  It allowed me time to read like a maniac, immerse myself in fantastic literature, build up life experiences, and mature before I later dove into novel writing.

What are your thoughts on this?

4 thoughts on “permission to NOT write

  1. I think I’m also going through my harvest season (I hope so!). I haven’t finished a single book in two months! That’s the longest since I started reading five years ago 😉

  2. i agree totally with you. i am in a season of refreshing myself… but i have some great ideas for a book. maybe you could write it for me… about Vietnam????

  3. I think in many fields of life this concept applies. For example, as a missionary I will take furloughs which are times where we are not on the foreign field. Contrary to common belief, these are not vacations but times of personal, financial, and spiritual preparation to return. These times of off field development are often essential for the longevity of the working ability of many individuals. As you say though, we can not make them a waste of time through inactivity.

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