Checking Back In

I just did what you’re not supposed to do as a writer.

I checked out.

For over a month, in fact, which is significant. That’s 30-some days I could have spent in front of my computer putting words on the page, and not a single one flowed out of my brain to any meaningful degree.

Instead, I helped my boyfriend after an unfortunate ski accident mid-March. Then I nursed him back to health after his knee surgery last week. I spent a weekend in Florida with my boyfriend’s parents riding around in golf carts and shamelessly enjoying the weather. I tried like mad to stay on top of a sudden and overwhelming influx of work after a winter of almost nothing coming in. I panicked, wondering if this career I’ve set up for myself just so that I can write is even working. I signed myself up for a class to learn how I can make this career work for myself a little bit better. I worried about taxes and finances and the pitfalls of being self-employed (and listened to my accountant’s fatherly lectures about the pitfalls of being self-employed). I reminded myself to take deep breaths, to work out, to read books, to stay sane…but I wasn’t doing the thing I most needed to do.

In the writing world, they’re all called “excuses.” In my world, it’s called “life.” If Steven Pressfield were here right now, he’d kick my ass. I’d kick my ass, too. But then I’d sit down and take stock and realize that sometimes you just need to pay attention to what’s happening in front of you, to participate in the ebb and flow of the world you inhabit with your loved ones, to honor your emotional wheelings and mental dealings, and to know that there will come a week, a day, an hour when you can, in fact, return to the page.

Which is what I’m doing right now.

This post is not going to win any awards. It’s boring. Everyone has shit happen. Every writer goes through these struggles whether they admit to them or not. Nothing I’m saying is interesting, insightful, or new. The guilt I feel about temporarily abandoning my calling is irrelevant.

The important thing is that I’m saying something right now. When readers go back and look at my archive, they will see that in April of 2015 I broke a streak of hedging. I summoned the energy from somewhere. I did what I’m supposed to do as a writer, which is to eventually check back in and let everything else go.

If you’re not writing right now, make sure you know why. Make sure there is a why. If there isn’t, get to it. If there is, it’s OK.

Soon, it’ll be better.

Soon, it’ll all come back.

Soon, we’ll forget we ever had anything to worry about at all.

13 thoughts on “Checking Back In

  1. Glad you’re back in the saddle. Everybody needs some time away and there may not be a better thing to have spent time on than nursing those you love:0))

  2. It think as writer’s it’s so easy to kick ourselves in the butt over not writing our words everyday. Steven Pressfield is pretty hard ass on that, and I agree with him because there is nothing as satisfying as writing your goal everyday. But as you say, sometimes life happens and it happens for a reason. There are times when the mind needs to top producing and start drinking in the life that’s happening so there’s more material to use. Other times there is fear and self doubt blocking your way. Maybe you’re feeling a level of vulnerability created by your boyfriend’s misfortune. It’ll all come back. In fact, just checking in with us now proves that you’re returning bit by bit. Don’t kick yourself. I bet Pressfield has his off months. Be well!

  3. I recently ran on to a saying the other day…it goes something like this….things work better when they’re unplugged for awhile and plugged back in, it even applies to people. Getting in touch with friends and family and just “living” is where we pull our resources to be better writers. I’m sure the sabbatical will serve you well!

  4. I feel your pain. And it’s hard to return once you’ve broken the solid commitment to “be a regular writer”. It’s like waltzing into the living room of your estranged partner and asking what’s for dinner. While realising WordPress is a community site, what really helps me is remembering that ultimately I am doing this for myself. That and the occasional “I’m sorry I haven’t written anything in a while; I promised myself this wouldn’t happen” post :p

  5. It sounds like you’re quite the writer and an inspiration. I think for you to admit that it’s okay to check out and be more involved with what’s in front of you is very encouraging. With thoughts of possibly making a life out of writing everyday it’s been embedded in our heads that you must keep to it each and every day, which makes it sound scary and stressful. Again, it’s encouraging because you sound like a person whose making a life out of what they love and at the end of the day we need to remember we’re human beings and things happen!

  6. Oh my goodness, Amanda, I can so very relate!! One of the chronic illnesses that riddles my body just loves to kick up a fuss just when I get ‘into the groove of writing’! It truly is maddening!! I just keep at it, even if ‘it’ isn’t adding to my story’s word count. Sometimes, it’s only me venting within my paper journal!
    Thanks so much for this post.

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