Can writers ever stop writing? Maybe, maybe not, but there are times when a writer should stop writing. For their own sanity, if nothing else.
Most people who write for a living are constantly under pressure. If they are not having to meet someone else’s deadlines or someone else’s goals or standards, then they are often competing with themselves. On top of this pressure, most writers will from time to time have a nagging feeling in the back of their thoughts that they just aren’t very good at what they do, writing.
Fear is a common concern for beginning writers, but it also hits old pros at times. We feel like our words are worthless. We feel like we can’t string sentences together that make sense. We outright fear that we suck.
Most times we don’t suck. Some writers are better than others, or more appealing to a larger audience, but experience can help a lot. And, of course, there are a few writers out there who are just genuinely awful, for a variety of reasons.
Writers put a lot of pressure on themselves, often too much pressure, and this can have a paralyzing effect for some. The dreaded “writer’s block” will appear, but that’s really just another word for fear. Most writers can eventually work past such fear, but some can’t and for others it might take years.
Still, with all this pressure, there are times when a writer needs to step back and not write. This might sound ludicrous to writers who work every day, who pen at least a thousand or more words a day on a book or articles or whatever is the project of the moment. We often keep telling ourselves we must write, and we feel guilty when we do not write, but there are times to step away from the keyboard.
The death of a loved one.
A serious illness.
A serious accident.
Possibly even an arrest.
Such events can be jarring, even life changing. Writers are people. We shouldn’t add onto the pressures of such events by telling ourselves we have to keep writing through them.
Some writers can work right through such events, mostly because the writing takes their mind off such serious matters. But many writers can’t work when truly awful things happen. They lock up. They feel tired, afraid, weak, tortured.
At such times, the writer needs to step back and give himself or herself breathing space, a little time. Perhaps only a few days, perhaps a week or a month or even a year. Traumatic events hit all of us at one time or another, and they hit all of us in different emotional ways, but we can make sure to not add to our troubles by putting pressure upon ourselves.
And lest we forget, there are positive life-changing events that also can bring our writing to a halt for a while.
When such events come along our path, we need to sit back and take a breather. The writing isn’t going anywhere. It will always be right there waiting for us.
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