I write to keep me sane. I write so that my words may outlive my life. I write to find redemption

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Writing Blues

Recently I read the advice column of Cary Tennis at

The Feb. 26th entry was titled

I don't feel like writing. Does that mean I am not a writer?

In it a 31 year old writer describes his frustations over not being able to complete his second novel. He goes as far as wondering if he should give up on writing. The part that really made me laugh, though I sympathisize with this writer's struggle, is that he said he could be happy not writing.

To that I say:
Give it a try then. I see only misery in your future. Because if writing makes you feel like hell, not writing will be like sharing a bunk bed with the Devil.

Over twenty blog writers,so far, have referenced his story and written their own thoughts on it. After reading it I was left thinking that this man could walk away from his craft but if he does he should immediately book an appointment at a therapist's office. Not because it is crazy to stop writing but because if writing is in your blood than not writing will drive you to insanity, I truly believe.

What do you think? Could you turn your back on writing and still die with a smile on your face? Or would you always miss your love and lose yourself because you were separated from it?


  • At 3/03/2007 09:55:00 PM, Blogger Adrian Swift said…

    Interesting posting!

    After not finishing a single manuscript in spite of a decade plus of effort, I asked myself seriously whether I was in fact really cut out for it, whether I should continue trying something that didn't seem to be working at all.

    I made the decision to stop writing, knowing I could always reverse the decision later.

    I lasted only a few weeks. I haven't stopped thinking of myself as a writer since.

  • At 3/03/2007 10:35:00 PM, Blogger The Wandering Author said…

    Sara, some time ago, I made the decision to stop writing, not because I wanted to, but because I felt the publishing world was changing in ways that made no other choice possible. Practicality has always been a bad guide for me...

    Actually, originally I told myself I would keep writing in my spare time. I had little spare time in which to write, and that made me so unhappy I turned my back on writing altogether, in an effort to forget. Which didn't work either.

    I was miserable, and my mind felt crippled; returning to writing was the greatest relief I have ever felt, greater even than the relief after a particularly terrible migraine ends. If you can be happy without writing, you aren't really a writer. Whether or not you ever make money, ever secure a publishing deal - if you are a writer, you have to write. When you don't, you will be miserable and feel dead inside. Eventually, yes, I think you would go crazy. I know I started to, before I pulled myself back from the brink (by returning to writing).

    Any writer who doesn't understand this may someday try the experiment for themselves, and they'll learn, the hard way, that writers really don't have any choice. It is something you are, something you must do, not just something you want to do.

    And, by the way, for many years I believed as you do, only to have my belief ground down so that somewhere along the way I lost sight of what I was enough to think it would be possible to be something else. You never know what the future will bring; I sincerely hope yours will be better than that, but if you ever arrive at the place I did - remember this comment, and learn from my mistake! You were right in the first place!

    (Sorry for the long comment. This post touched a nerve.)

  • At 3/03/2007 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Suzan Abrams, email: said…

    I couldn't stop writing at this time of my life, even if I wanted to. Such an act would near-kill me inside. No exaggeration. :-)

    btw, Sara, one day we WILL have that coffee or tea. Thank you for your beautiful friendship which has lasted quite awhile now in the blogging world, hasn't it. hugs.

  • At 3/04/2007 04:58:00 AM, Blogger Marie said…

    I could never stop writing. I'd go insane. I need to write because that's the way I like to express myself. I think writing chose me, I didn't choose it.

  • At 3/04/2007 04:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't think a writer could stop being a writer and remain happy. I know how miserable I felt when circumstances took me away from it for a while. And I know how I feel now I'm back.

    What I'm writing at the moment is technical stuff for my work, largely, but it's filling that void that had grown large. I still tell myself I'll find 20 minutes to fit in some writing 'for me', but the truth is I'm writing all day long, even if most of it is for a particular audience and not the public.

    Certainly makes a difference to how I feel. I know a lot of writers start out with a dream of becoming published and making a living out of it, but that's not really the thing that makes someone a writer - is it? It's just some icing on the cake if you get that.

    I don't even like icing on cake that much!

  • At 3/06/2007 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I think that if you are a writer, you write. It's somewhat of a compulsion.

    When I look back over my creative life specifically, I find that although I started with art (back when I was too young to form letters or write many words)at every truly important moment in my life I wrote.

    I have often thought that my art (not my writing) would come and go. I've had it displayed and published, some of it's toured Asia and Europe. I'm quite content with all that and although ideas still come, I don't worry so much about completing each of them or interpreting them fully. So, by my own understanding--I am not an artist (although I still say my son's my masterpiece ;-).

    But--If I don't jot some story, character, verse or setting idea down each day (whether on napkins, envelope backs, index cards or in my laptop)I feel restricted somehow. I write something every day to keep my stress and tension at bay. But even in times when there was no marked stress in my life, I wrote.

    If I don't write, I think about writing. Like I said--compulsion.

    Having read the 31 year old's post, I'd say it's more likely he feels he's unworthy of his relatively successful life. He said he suffered low self-esteem--I don't doubt that's part of his current issue. Self-doubt, self-loathing and fear of success can be far more crippling to creative sorts than many think.

    I write, therefore I am,

  • At 3/06/2007 11:49:00 AM, Blogger writerwoman said…


    I think you are right that he suffers from those fears. I do feel for him. I think writers as a group can be plagued with doubts and more likely to suffer depression. That's just a observation on my part.

    I think that writers have to write to stay sane and happy. So that poor 31 year old will only make himself more miserable by giving up.

    I love that his letter to that column sparked so much discussion here and at other blogs.

    He is a good example to all of us.

    No writer has the option of giving up.

  • At 3/06/2007 11:50:00 AM, Blogger writerwoman said…

    Love that story! It gives me inspiration.


  • At 3/06/2007 11:55:00 AM, Blogger writerwoman said…

    Wandering Author,

    I so agree with you. Not writing is like being dead but still breathing.
    I went through a bad perios myself once. I was depressed and thought it was from other things. I thought I couldn't write until I stopped being depressed. Finally I realized that by writing, and other things, I could work my way back out of the darkness. Now I know that no matter what else happens if I don't write I will be out of sorts.

    Thank you for your continual guidance and support!


  • At 3/06/2007 11:58:00 AM, Blogger writerwoman said…


    Now that is a feeling I am fimilar with, thinking that not writing would kill you. I get cranky if I stay away from my writing for too long. And if I go through a long period of Writer's Block, watch out, I am hell to be around. If I could never write again life would be very dark for me.

    Looking forward to that coffee. Hugs,


  • At 3/06/2007 11:59:00 AM, Blogger writerwoman said…


    Yes, me too. I think writing was my gift at birth. So glad to have found a new writing friend in you.


  • At 3/06/2007 12:01:00 PM, Blogger writerwoman said…

    Amin, nice to hear from you again!

    Glad to hear you are writing, the technical stuff might open up pathways that lead to more creative work.

    Thanks for stopping in and commenting. It is always good to hear from you.


  • At 3/07/2007 01:35:00 AM, Blogger Suzan Abrams, email: said…

    Hi Sara,
    Another thought, darling.
    I remember I walked away from it once for 6 years.
    For 3 years, it left me alone and in the next 3, pursued me hot on its heels.
    Today, I happily oblige its passion. :-)

  • At 3/07/2007 08:23:00 AM, Blogger Tempest Knight said…

    I've always thought of myself as a multifaceted person. There's just not one thing that defines my person. To do so would just bore me to death. And I can't bored of myself. *lol* So if I have to walk away from writing, I'm sure I'll find something else, and I'll grow and expand my horizons yet. And yes, I'll be happy. Happiness comes from within. And what you can't find within, you can't find without.

  • At 3/07/2007 05:17:00 PM, Blogger Kilroy_60 said…

    For a writer, writing is life.

  • At 6/04/2007 04:10:00 PM, Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said…

    I'm definitely in the "I can't stop" camp. I've tried to stop. I have. It's one of the few things I'm proud to have failed at.

    Here from the carnival; nice to meet you!


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