Do you love to write? Is writing what makes you feel alive? Are you sure?
Let me ask you something: When’s the last time you wrote and thought, That felt good and also I am good at this? When’s the last time you wrote then told a friend, “This is definitely the best path for my mental health”? And when’s the last time you wrote while sitting at your rickety little desk while wearing two sweaters and mused, This is undoubtedly setting me on a path toward a bright and lucrative future?
There are easier ways to not make a living, I assure you. Writing is the adult equivalent of a kindergartner playing inside a cardboard box, believing it’s a rocket ship that will take her to the moon. Adorable, but ultimately sad. Writing is a pretend career for people who just want a sophisticated excuse for not exercising. And writing is like carrying around a giant mirror that hates you, promises it loves you, but mostly wants to kill you. Who needs that? Not you, sport.
This is where Not Writing comes in.
You might be afraid of Not Writing. That’s because people on Twitter who are also Not Writing have told you to be. Tell them to mind their business and go reflect on the marriages they’re currently ignoring. Think of Not Writing as a door I’m opening for you. This door leads to a path of free time and good innocent feelings instead of toward that flight of stairs you’ve been throwing yourself down repeatedly since you first thought, “You know what I want to be! A writer!”
Think back to a time when you were out walking the dog and an idea or bit of dialogue popped into your head that was so clear, so perfectly formed, so utterly brilliant. What if it just… stayed there? Remember how when you wrote it all down later, it never quite worked? It wasn’t quite so clear, so perfectly formed, so utterly brilliant as it had been in your head, was it, chief? Wow, you might’ve thought, maybe I’m terrible at this. You know what would take away that doubt and all those sad feelings forever? Yup.
Or how about all those times you sat at tiny tables in tiny coffee shops, frantically rubbing your face or scratching your fingers through your scalp, trying to figure out whether your manuscript had technical problems or you were technically the problem? Now, what if you just… didn’t do that? Imagine dwelling in the land of unlimited possibility and sparkling potential until you’re off to the great WIP in the sky.
Not Writing might seem impossible but let’s face it, you’ve probably been dabbling in it all along. Mind mapping? Not Writing. “Researching”? Not Writing. Looking up terrible reviews of your enemies’ books? Please stop insulting me already and set yourself free.
Now when you’re at a cocktail party, and someone asks what you do, you can answer confidently with, “Well, I’m Not Writing, I’ll tell you that much!” Just remember that your conversational partner’s discomfort with this answer is about them, not you. They’re envious of all that Not Writing you’re doing. Who wouldn’t be? Not Writing is probably getting you nowhere just as fast as their actual writing is. Who’s the unheralded voice of a generation now?
Naturally, it can feel like a big shift to go from Sort Of But Not Really Writing to completely Not Writing. If you’re concerned that Not Writing will make you feel bad, ask yourself, Do I feel good now? Writing might seem like the answer, but I assure you, it is almost always the question, and that question is why?
Just remember, when you’re Not Writing, all your best writing is always ahead of you.