Writers Write


It’s July 1st and already I feel the apathy creeping in.

In previous summers, between June and September, I had a legitimate excuse for my lack of writing progress. I was a teacher who worked hard during the school year.

A teacher who had young kids.

My time belonged to others. And after ten months in the classroom, summers meant working full-time at motherhood. I invited friends over and arranged playdates. Beach days and barbeques. There was a surplus of activity and boredom. Of laundry and snacks.

But always in the back of my mind, this:

I’m not writing. I cannot write.

Because for me, writing fiction requires diving headlong into the waters. I can’t craft a setting without traveling there in my head. Nor can I cultivate dialogue without adopting the tongues of my characters.

“What are we doing today?” my children would ask, draped across the family room couch.

We are shutting the laptop down, I thought. Shut. It. Down.

Could I have told them Go play outside or Figure it out for yourself?

Of course. At times I did. And I respect parents who do it often. Or who think it’s better.

Who have no choice.

But would my kids’ (almost certainly) brief efforts afford me enough time to craft a setting? To adopt a tongue?

The voice inside me whispered:

The days they’ll seek you out for fun are limited.

My goal became parenting first. Writing later.

Recently I read this article (it was impossible to miss, such a nerve did it strike). The author and I occupy opposite ends of the childrearing spectrum, but I too feel the martyrdom. I question my own roles.

Mother. Writer. Monster. Maid. It’s hard not to wonder if we’re getting the balance right.

But for me, above all else, looms the temporariness of our current status. So I willingly make sacrifices and (unlike the author) I am certain I’d do it again. Over and over.

And yet.

I owe it to myself, to family and friends and supporters who’ve been cheering for me—who will cheer for me always—not to give up.

I’m a writer. A writer writes.

My kids are older. They no longer look to me for plans, transportation, inspiration. They rarely say I’M BORED and if they do, it’s on them. Not me.

So what’s my excuse for the summer’s creeping apathy? Is it habit?  Does my creativity automatically freeze after so many Junes and Julys without a formal work schedule?

Maybe my brain needs a break. By this date last year, I’d signed a contract for Letters for Scarlet and was fully invested in the last, best rewrite. I suddenly realized THESE ARE THE SENTENCES people would read. The real pages they’d turn. Contemplate. Judge.

So I drove myself hard through the fall then spent the spring promoting my newly launched book. In June, I ushered my oldest child through high school graduation. Now I’m preparing him to leave for college. Preparing myself for him to be gone.

Maybe I’m scared of getting into the writer’s groove that finds me nodding and yeah-ing at my family without listening.

Maybe I’m afraid I’ve lost my magic.

Maybe it’s all of this. The break. The groove. The magic.

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And yet.

I want my words back.

I need them.

This is not selfish. This is work.

Which is why I’ve decided to do it again. My writing experiment. The one that works for me.

Starting today, ten minutes a day, every day throughout July. Even though we have family plans. Even though I’ll be out of town more than once. Even though my children are almost grown. Even though I may nod and yeah at them once in a while.

Just ten minutes.

A small compromise.

I’m a writer, after all.

And writers write.


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Buy or review Letters for Scarlet here. Sign up for my newsletter here. Like my Facebook author page here. Follow me on Twitter here.

Or not.

Either way, have a HAPPY SUMMER. Whatever that means to you.

14 thoughts on “Writers Write

  1. Lisa Page Rosenberg

    I know the struggle.

  2. Diane

    …and readers read, which I do willingly, gladly, and voraciously of what you write. Today’s piece is poignant and heartfelt as always.

  3. Ah.. the struggle. It’s real. (Like too effing real!) But you have not lost your magic. I promise.

  4. Maureen

    You have such an amazing, entertaining talent to share with us….keep writing. Can’t wait for the next book!

  5. I know how that feels, boy howdy. I’m right in it – with words to write and not enough room to write them in my day. I steal 10 minutes here and there…hardly enough to immerse myself in a world, but better than nothing!

  6. I miss you. 🙂

    I feel all of this all the time. There is a pressure as a writer that many other callings / professions don’t have. We always feel like we should be working – that our time could be more productively spent. I have 2 more days to make my self-appointed goal of writing that one missing scene in Chapter 4. Yesterday I got my girl off to Barcelona, this morning I got my men off to Brittany. Now I have to drive into Paris alone and find parking (I’m nervous). But when I come home – today or tomorrow I will write that scene. And Monday I will create a new goal – even if it’s 10 minutes a day.

    Because writers have to write.

  7. Thank you for the inspiration and reminder. I need to treasure the time I have with them but also find 15 mi Utes a day to write and meditate. It doesn’t seem so much so why can’t I consistently find it? New goal 😉

  8. Your writing gets me every time. I understand this – I am with you. I’m not writing. I should be but I’m not. When I was away working, inspiration hit and I scribbled some thoughts down on hotel paper. It felt so good. Right. But, summer, kids, spent from a very busy few months…there is always something. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I think it’s thank you. I’m not alone and I’m grateful that someone gets it and that someone is you! You’re an incredible person, Julie. Kind, thoughtful. I always feel better, inspired, contemplative after I read your words. Thank you for this gift.

  9. I love your honesty that writing is work and that the magic is not always there. It truly IS work! I find that when I’m tapped out, I need to pour others’ words in. I always read a lot, but I’m reading more than every this summer because I truly do feel TAPPED.

  10. I’m on the other end of the parenting spectrum. My four are under seven. They all need me in a multitude of ways and I have chosen to put aside my interests. Again. The weird part is, it doesn’t bother me like it used to. From Orange is the New Black – when you find a sliver of happiness, find a way to live in it. (paraphrasing) So I am. May you continue to live in yours, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. xoxo

  11. You could never lose your magic my friend.

  12. Long time, no visit.

    Congrats on the book!

    I like the 10 minute plan. Seems digestible until real time can be gathered.

  13. Karen

    Julie, I missed this post. Loved it. You haven’t lost your magic; it came from you. I can’t wait to read more of your words! Please write them!

  14. Lisa Alexander

    Great post, thank you! The struggle is real. October now … I wonder how it went ….

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