Monday, September 23, 2013

When You Lose Your Writing Gift

If you have, or have ever had, writer's block, you may not want to read this, because it may seem hopeless. I promise you it's not. It's really not. It may seem that way, though, and because of my own imperfections in conveying the ideas inside me, I may not be able to convey the truth of how I feel, and why it's okay. But I will try.

And now... the truth.

The words have long stopped flowing.

The characters in my head are still and grey.

Their voices are silent.

The magic is gone.

It's been gone, for a long time, years, and I did not know it, or did not want to know it. But the fact is that it is simply not there any more. 

And it's okay, somehow.

Believe me, I fought it and fought it, didn't want it to be real. I've grieved over the loss of my storytelling, the way someone might grieve over the loss of a hand, or the loss of their sight, or maybe both. Storytelling used to be the way that I made things make sense that didn't make sense, made a world right that was wrong all over. It used to be how I freed myself. It used to bring me comfort, to know that I could go to that place and be there and things would be All Right.

I've tried to force it. I've tried to work through it. I've tried books: books on writing, and my favorite novels. I've tried to philosophize and reason my way through it. I've prayed for it. I've begged my hands to write the words and my mind to make them again. I've tried denial and anger and bargaining and depression and even resignation. Like I said - grief. That is the overwhelming feeling that has been mine since the loss of my gift.

Because of grief I have tried many things. But none of those things have worked for me, and I am beginning to accept that, at least for now, and possibly for a long time to come, I do not have the magic inside of me any more. It is the only thing missing. I have the skills, I have the drive, I have the talent, I have the ideas. Just not the magic, and that is the one thing that I cannot do without and still write. There is nothing stopping me but the stillness in my heart, and that is the only thing that could stop me.

And somehow, it's okay. I don't know how. Being a novelist is all I have ever wanted to be. But I can't right now, and it has to be okay.

I don't know if anyone who will read this has been through this. Maybe you have, or maybe you are going through some part of it right now. Maybe you are afraid that you will never write again, or maybe you are afraid that you will never write well again. Maybe you are afraid that you only had the one book in you that was worth writing. Maybe you have had to set aside your writing for other things.

I wish I had answers for you, for then I would have answers for myself. But the only answer that I really have is that it's okay. Maybe another writer will have answers for you. Check the comments. There could be something there.

This dream of mine can rest. I will keep it, even if it is just a keepsake, a souvenir, it will still be mine, and perhaps someday I can take it up again. Maybe as soon as tomorrow, or maybe as far away as twenty years. Who knows? :) It will be all right, either way. There is more to me than being a writer. There is more to me than what I used to be able to do.

Thanks to everybody. :) And this is not the end of the blog, either. Just... a change.


  1. Your gift is not gone, Joseph. I know you don't know me all that well, but this sounds so familiar. Every writer goes through this phase, I think. And, um, sorry to say, it happens on a regular basis to all of us. It happens to me every time I don't put enough hours in. Or if I start telling myself I can't write. Or try to edit too much instead of letting my subconscious play freely.

    Take a break, if you need. Do something refreshing. And then tell yourself YOU ARE A WRITER and start writing nonsense, if that's all that comes out for awhile. You have a gift--a wonderful one, a beautiful, poetic way of putting words together--so write nonsense in your own way and it will turn into something more than nonsense if you put Butt in Chair for as many hours as your brain needs. This is the pain of writing. But you love it, or you wouldn't be so sad about this, and you're too talented to quit.

    As Martine Leavitt says, when the Universe gives you a gift, you have a responsibility to use it. Of course you're right there is more to you than being a writer. But you are a writer, too, and that's a good thing. If being a novelist is all you've ever wanted to do, then you SHOULD be a novelist. Just know that it normally takes about ten years of struggle and pain before the average writer produces anything worth publishing, so a day job's a good idea, meanwhile. But after work, sit down and let your subconscious brain play.

    You can do it. Feel free to email me or something if you want to talk this through more.

    1. You know what? You're right.

      :) I don't have an email address for you. So I'll just say it here. You're right. And I'm ready to try again.

  2. Yay! And my email is ejjube at gmail dot com.