Reasons Not to Write

There are a thousand reasons not to write.

You’re tired. After all, you’re working full-time, or juggling two jobs, or going to school full-time, or working and going to school. You’ve got kids, or you don’t but hell, even just taking care of yourself can be exhausting.

It’s Tuesday night, and the dryer’s acting up again, and you forgot to buy pasta sauce on the way home so now you have to figure out something else for dinner.

It’s Wednesday morning, and it feels like you’re catching that cold that’s going around. You want nothing more than to curl up in bed with some tissues, and cough syrup, and catch up on the DVR.

It’s Friday afternoon, and your friend just texted, and you were supposed to write for an hour when you get home, but she wants to hit up happy hour, and you two never go out anymore, and what does it hurt anyway, you can always write tomorrow.

It’s Sunday afternoon. You finally get to sleep in a little, which you never do, and then you make breakfast, and you start to clean the kitchen because, let’s face it, you’ve been busy lately and it desperately needs it. Then you notice how dusty the shelves are, and the floor needs to be vacuumed, and oh yeah, you need to run to the store for damn pasta sauce, and before you know it, it’s dark outside and Downton Abbey is coming on, and you’re in your pajamas and can barely keep your eyes open.

I get it.

I’ve been there.

Hell, I’m still there.

Writing is exhausting. It takes time, yes, and dedication, of course, and the actual physical process of writing or typing a story. But it takes so much more than that. It takes the brainpower to imagine a world and breathe life into characters. It takes energy to lead those characters through plot points and life events and challenges and then sit back, ready to transcribe what happens next. You have to see them. You have to hear them. And the fact that this is all happening in your own head is a drain on your resources.

It’s all well and good for writing experts to tell you to set aside an hour or two every day for writing. ‘Must be nice,’ you think. ‘Must be nice to have so much free time.’

But there’s a reason it’s a common piece of advice.. You have to carve out the time to write. You really do.

Sometimes the ideas will be there, and the time will fly. You might miss the bus, or be late for a conference call, or forget to eat dinner. Those are the good times.

But they’re not all good times.

Sometimes, there’s nothing more loathsome than writing.

It’s a chore.

And a burden.

And yet another item on a crowded to-do list.

The blinking cursor mocks you. Your exhausted brain is empty. The blank page is a testament to how much of a failure you are. You’re out of ideas. You can’t think of a single sentence to write. How do people do this?!

Well, those are the bad times. You’ll get through them, just like you got through the good ones.

You see, much like brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, writing is something you should do every day. But we’re human, and sometimes we let it slide.

Just make sure not to let it go too long. Give yourself a break, or two, but not three. Never three.

If you don’t brush, you get plaque and cavities and gingivitis. If you don’t wash the dishes, you run out of bowls and forks and glasses (plus, that oatmeal has fused with the pot and they are one now). If you don’t write, you haven’t written. It’s that simple. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer.

So if writing calls to you, if you can feel it in your bones, if it stirs your very soul, then you must be a writer.

There are a thousand reasons not to write, but you’re a writer so you don’t need any of them.

  • Amber
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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Both as a writer and as a stand-up comedian, the question I get asked most often is definitely, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

That question always gives me pause, because I never quite know how to answer it in a fully satisfying way. The simple truth is I get my ideas from anywhere, and no where. My ideas are born of 31, almost 32, years of human experience. My ideas come from observing my friends and family, from thinking about how life should be in contrast to how it is, to asking myself ‘what if…?”, or simply because something makes me chuckle.

But all of that is just a beginning, because the cold, hard truth of the matter is that inspiration isn’t as simple as a spark. Not really. Not the good inspiration, anyway. Not inspiration that lasts long enough to inspire others.

Of course, any artist has moments of clarity. Moments when the Muse just seems to flow out of your pencil or paint brush or even your computer screen, and for that brief moment in time you are one with your art. It’s almost as if it’s being dictated to you and you are just a humble scribe, etching the image of the very face of God in some small way.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

But, that’s not inspiration.

That’s a jumping-off point, and if that brief, fleeting moment of ecstasy is all you have to motivate you to create, to write, to dance, or to breathe, you will not get too far in the creative process. That is the high, but not the drug itself.

Inspiration is work.

Inspiration takes time and effort, especially when it comes to writing.

Real inspiration comes from hours of staring at the same sentence for hours on end, fretting over where to place that comma or period. It comes from debating what a character would do with a valued friend, passionately defending your view while listening to theirs. It comes from closing your eyes and forcing yourself to see something the way a character would see it, whether or not you happen to agree with it.

Real inspiration comes on the fifth or sixth draft, when suddenly you see everything you’ve worked on for months in a whole new light. A light that makes it all suddenly click somewhere in the back of your brain.

But, that click wasn’t handed to you on a silver platter.

You earned that click.

You earned it by battling through the blank page and the mocking, blinking cursor. Your earned it by refusing to back down when you couldn’t find the right word. You earned it by forgoing sleep, by turning off the TV and Internet so you can hear your own thoughts above the din.

You earned it, and that’s where the inspiration comes from.

  • Sarah

Welcome to UpWriteLadies!

Welcome to the first post on UpWriteLadies.com, a website designed to help female authors connect with each other and share their work.

Our goal is to support emerging and established writers in their search to find an audience, and to help connect an audience looking for good writing with some of the best writers in the world.

Every month, we will be sharing two stories submitted by our readers on our site. Our goal is to share one fiction and one non-fiction piece, but of course this will depend on what submissions we get. Sarah will pick one piece each month, and Amber will pick one. On the second and fourth Friday of each month, we will post the winning selections right here, along with a personal written review and a profile of the author.

We will also be posting our work, as well as blogposts about writing, art, current events, and anything else that we think might interest you.

If you want to participate and submit a piece, visit our Submission Guidelines page for more information.

Thanks, and keep writing!

  • Amber and Sarah