Q: Are You Still Writing?

Thursday Postcard
July 7, 2023

A: That’s Your Business!

Sometimes at parties or on the phone, I talk with people who want to write a book but haven’t started yet. I’m not coaching them or working with them. They’re just people who learn I’m a book editor and a writer, and want to talk about why they’re not writing.

They might say…

* I’ve been super-busy at work / with family obligations, but as soon as things settle down I’ll start writing.
* I’ve got this other project I need to finish, but as soon as it’s done I’ll start writing.
* I’m battling a health issue, but as soon as I’m on the mend I’ll start writing.

Those aren’t excuses, they’re reasons.

When people mention the project they’re going to one day write, they often sound sheepish. I almost always say something like, “it’ll still be there when you’re ready.”

To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me if anyone else writes or doesn’t write.

In fact for most writers’ intimates, a writing habit can be neutral, inconvenient, or downright negative.

Writing a book requires using free time, which means making a choice between writing, hanging out with friends and family, or pursuing better-paid work.

Although some writers earn great money solely through their books, they’re the exception. A survey of over 5,000 professional writers in the US showed that their annual income from writing is about 6,000 USD, only half of which comes through book sales.

You might be thinking, yes, but I’m happier when I write, and isn’t that better for everyone?

Absolutely. Personally, I feel better when I write.

I’m better company when I write.

I appreciate the world more when I write.

That’s reason enough for me to do it.

But my experience is that the joy I get from having written is not obvious. I’m happy a lot of the time. Nobody really knows when I write or how much I write, so they’re not going to see the connection between my writing and my situational affability.

For all these reasons, whether you write or not is 100% your business.

Your reasons for writing, or not writing, are completely valid. Your entire experience around writing is valid.

Whether you write is up to you.

How much you write is up to you.

If you want to write but don’t do it, it’s not a failure of character. It’s just the truth of the situation for you right now. 

So if you’re a writer who’s not writing, consider dropping the thought that you’ll start writing as soon as [X] happens.

Just live your life as you want to live it now, or have to live it now.

Then when there’s room for the book (or whatever you’re writing), invite it back in.