What If You Can’t Write?

Word counts.

Rear-end in chair.

Writing sprints.

NaNoWriMo.

All this pressure to, well, just write. That’s what writers do, right? In theory.

What if you can’t write? I’m not talking about the dreaded writer’s block. Some would argue that’s not a thing. Which is a subject for a different blog.

I’m talking about circumstances that weigh us down, derail us, and keep us unfocused. Things like, oh, I don’t know, maybe a global pandemic. I have found it difficult to focus because of all the negative news reports and the fear that seems to float through the air like a coronavirus spore.

I work in a bank which is a forward customer facing environment. At first, it was no big deal to close our lobby and make customers wait in the outside foyer. When management decided to split our staff into two teams so as to decrease our exposure, reality hit. Hard. Suddenly I wondered if I would be the next Covid-19 casualty. After all, I’m part of a vulnerable population—over sixty and taking immune suppressing drugs. Terror froze my brain to the point I couldn’t get any words written.

Some have used this time of sheltering-in-place to dig deep into their WIP. Others have started new projects with renewed gusto. Not I. All I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn’t ignore the fear, so I tried to hide from it. My writing went into the “I’ll get to it later” file.

In Allen Arnold’s fabulous book, “The Story of With,” he emphasizes creating with God. It isn’t about word counts or minutes spent at the keyboard. Rather, it’s about who you are with God and what He has created you to create.

After God spent six days creating the world, He rested. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, the fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8 NIV).

Sometimes, creating with God means letting Him take you into a season of rest. Have you ever been blindsided by the death of a close friend, loved one, or family member? When my son died, I found it impossible to work on my novel. All I could do was pour out my pain in prayer and journaling.

When I had hand surgery, I could only plunk out one-handed a few letters at a time. Yet God used that time to deepen my relationship with him. Because I couldn’t focus on my manuscript, I focused more fully on Him, and I heard Him speak to me about the next steps in my life and my career.

Are you in a season of Sabbath rest? Or are you feeling sidelined, watching everyone else acquire an agent, get published, win an award? If you feel pressure to write, to “just get it done,” you may not be creating with God. I have had to step back from writing from time to time, to listen, reevaluate, and wait for God.

When you feel as if you can’t write, perhaps God is calling you deeper into Him. At the end of your rest, your writing will be fresher and more vibrant. That is what I’m finding.

If you’re in a season of “can’t,” let us know how Inspire can pray for you. Our chaplain, Deb Gruelle can be reached at [email protected]inspirewriters.com or via our Facebook Prayer Group page.

About Jane S. Daly 17 Articles
Jane Daly was awarded the Excellence in Editing award for her book, The Caregiving Season, and two Cascade Awards sponsored by Oregon Christian Writers. She is also the author of Because of Grace (2015) and the treasurer of Inspire Christian Writers. Jane Daly is a California girl living in an Oregon world. She and her husband and two cats relocated to a small town in rural Oregon from a big California city.

8 Comments

  1. At first in the knowledge of the Covid19, I was isolated and writing up a storm. It was great. Then I watched the news and couldn’t sleep or write. Now after reading a friend’s novel I’m turned on to write and it’s great.

  2. Thank you for sharing your “not writing” experience, and reminding us that intimate, heartfelt time “with” God IS part of the writing process, and where our best, inspired writing comes from.

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