Writers write. Right? That’s what it means to be a writer. But what about those times that you need to take a break?
This is life. We encounter problems like lack of time (even if we try to make the time, sometimes we can’t), health problems (physical or mental), and unexpected obligations or tasks that require our time and energy (in work, our personal life, or both). Sometimes we are so drained or unable to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that we just can’t write. So we don’t.
You’ll probably see a lot of advice out there telling you that in order to call yourself a writer, you must write every day. I have said before that in order to be a writer you must write. But I know it isn’t reasonable and shouldn’t be expected that a writer writes every single day.
Instead, I think it’s more realistic to say that a writer writes when he or she can, regardless of inspiration. It’s about dedication. Practice writing is important to making your writing better. But sometimes writers can’t write, and that’s when they often sit and think about writing. Or the fact that they’re not writing. It’s a guilty cycle. When you write, you don’t feel like a real writer. When you don’t write, you feel like a bad writer.
My advice is usually to try to make yourself write something every day. Even if that something is a sentence. But if you can’t, it’s really okay. I promise. You don’t stop being a writer. It’s okay to take a break when you need to. It’s okay to skip days. I’ve skipped days, I’ve taken long breaks for months. I’ve had years where I barely wrote a word. I’ve felt the guilt and the itch of not being able to write for one reason or another. But I’ve learned that it’s okay.
Think about the stars. Do they go away when the sun comes out? No! The sunlight just keeps us from being able to see them for a while. But as soon as the sun goes down, the stars come back as bright as ever.
It’s the same thing with writing. If you’re taking a break from writing, think of yourself as a star during the day. You’re still a writer, you just aren’t showing your writer side for the time being. It will come back, if that’s what you want.
So don’t stress yourself out so much. Write when you can, when you have the time and energy and health to put into it. If you can’t, don’t count yourself out. Come back to it when you are able, and focus your energy on where it needs to be in the moment.
Don’t let anyone tell you that means you’re not a writer. You are still a writer.