Why There IS Such A Thing As “A Writer Who Doesn’t Write” and Why He Needs Our Love–Not Our Scorn

“For those of us who have suffered, who have hauled ourselves into the sun, anything exhausted beside us is family.”

-Mark Nepo

When I first came in to the blogging scene, I remember reading many bloggers who would look down on so-called “writers who don’t write.” These bloggers were quick to demean these writers and scoffed at the idea that they would even call themselves “writers.” For those narrow-minded bloggers, a writer was someone who was paid to write, or who was published, or who had gained some notoriety in “certain circles” which then anointed them as “writers.” Most importantly, for those narrow-minded bloggers, writers were supposed to write and if you couldn’t write, even though you wanted to, they thought that something must be wrong with your biological make-up.

It never occurred to them that writing took a lot more than skill–it took courage.

I never returned to those blogs, mostly because for a long time I was the writer they were talking about–I was the writer who did not write. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to write, or because I couldn’t write, I think it was because the community that surrounded me was not very encouraging of someone like me.

I was writing my first novel, I wasn’t published, and there was a long time, maybe 3 years, where I didn’t write a single word. According to those narrow-minded bloggers, I was not a writer. I was just some silly kid with a dream.

Then, a year ago, without the help of those narrow-minded bloggers, I finally became a writer who DID write. Since then, I’ve made my peace with the writing process.

But even though I’ve become a writer who writes, I still hold a soft spot for all those writers out there who don’t write.

Many of these writers seem to have washed upon the shore of this very blog, as if they were castaways of some sunken ship.

I suspect that some of my readers came to me because they were dead-tired of other bloggers telling them that they couldn’t write because something was intrinsically wrong with them. My readers were made to feel guilty because it was commonly asserted that writing was as easy as opening your laptop and just typing away–when the truth is, for most of us, it is NOT that easy.

The truth is, when you start to write, life has this tendency of getting in the way. Most people ignore this simple fact, and I think that’s why many of my readers were moved by my blog. They found that here, on this blog, I didn’t pretend as if my relationships, or my physical health, or my career, for example, had nothing to do with my writing. I am one of the few who will admit, time and time and again, that, yes, life has A LOT to do with the writing process. In fact, I would argue that life has more to do with the writing process than anything else.

For those who would disagree with me, I dare you take a closer look, and maybe you’ll see what I see.

Because what I see is people like my writer friend Stephen, who for all intents and purposes WANTS to write but just can’t. Life has gotten in his way. Then there’s my writer friend Katie, who is incredibly talented and obviously committed to her dream of becoming a writer, but who has found that, even though she WANTS to write, she just can’t. Life has gotten in her way.

You see, for many writers, life doesn’t unfold magically and perfectly as they would wish. No, for many of us, life tends to do the EXACT opposite of what we want it to do. In fact, it seems that life will do it’s best to GET IN THE WAY of your successful writing career.

What is there to do then? How do we solve this problem?

I think one way to solve the problem is by changing the way our little writing community treats these so-called “writers who don’t write.” Instead of treating them with scorn, I pledge that we treat these writers with respect, compassion and understanding.

So, let me be the first in our little writing community to say it differently:

If deep down inside you know you are a writer, then you are a writer. Even if you can’t write today, you are still a writer. Even if you CAN write today and you don’t, you are a still writer. Even if you are broke, unknown, and unpublished, you are STILL a writer.

As long as you have that little fire in you that tells you that you are writer, then no one can tell you otherwise. You know your truth, and even if you can’t live it today, we all know that one day you will.

We, your community, believe in you. We trust you. We LOVE you. We think you’re awesome. We think you’re talented. But we understand it’s hard right now and as long as you are patient, we are patient, too. Know that whatever you are going through will pass, and that one day you will go from being a writer who doesn’t write to a writer who DOES.

To all those writers who don’t write–this one’s for you. We’re all sending you our love and support, in the hopes that one day that little fire inside of you will spark, launch, soar and become brighter than a firecracker in the night sky.

much community love,

Ollin

(Editor’s note: this post originally ended with the song “Firework” by Katy Perry)

Please leave a note of encouragement below to all those “writers who don’t write.” Let them feel your love.

To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!

Like Courage 2 Create’s Fan Page.

Follow Ollin On Twitter.

Friend Ollin On Facebook.

82 comments on “Why There IS Such A Thing As “A Writer Who Doesn’t Write” and Why He Needs Our Love–Not Our Scorn

  1. Awesome, Ollin. Thanks! As a mother of very young children, I’m the first to admit life has gotten in the way of my writing. Your post basically describes my life. haha Ever since high school I’ve been fighting the trend to believe that writers who don’t write aren’t writers. We ARE! It was taking so much space in my brain – arguing with myself and others – that I quit the effort last year and just said, “I AM A WRITER DEEP INSIDE… EVEN IF I CAN’T WRITE TODAY!” Oddly enough, that was about the time I started to write every day. I often only have 1/2 an hour. 3 hours if I’m lucky (and SLEEPY.) But for some reason, claiming my truth freed me up. Life still gets in the way, of course, but I’m happier now.

    Yes, to all “Writers who don’t write” just know that your heart is writing beautifully inside itself and one day you’ll have the time to allow it to spill out onto paper. It will be even richer for the waiting. It might be messy after all that storing up, but who was it who said, “In writing, messiness if fertile ground” ? Nancy Kress, I think, but I paraphrase liberally.

    • Ollin says:

      You know I kept encountering this problem, and I thought that a great solution would come from the community. I think that as long as the community acknowledges how hard it is for these writers to write, then that can give them a bit of encouragement, and maybe set them on their way. I hope it worked.

      I’m happy that you found peace with the writing process!

  2. Well, that was an appropriate typo! haha “messiness IS fertile ground.” Sorry for the mess.😉

  3. Beautiful post. I know very well about life getting in my way. (Last week and a move! Barely got any words written, it was frustrating.) But what can you do? Keep on going and hope that one day life will step back and you can get those words on paper.

    • Ollin says:

      Patience and a little bit a faith help. Also the support from your community is vital. I hope this post helps those writers out there who are struggling to get the words out.

  4. Gina says:

    Hello Ollin.

    I found you through Write to Done on the Top 10 Bloggers. I have checked out all 10 and this is my favorite place to visit. It’s just the one I feel connected to right now.

    I am struggling with writing at this time. I have been for a while. When I finally made the decision to write, I talked with my husband and he said, “Go for it.”

    I learned a lot about myself in that time; like, I now refuse to ever work at a job that I don’t like just for the money. I did that all my life. It is soul sucking.

    After almost three years of being home and writing, I decided to go back to school because I feel I need a back up. I started to doubt myself. I tried to work through it but it was only getting worse. I am now in my second semester and have three to go.

    I cannot stop thinking about writing but I have nothing to write. I write in a journal everyday just to keep up the practice but I feel empty. I was so sure I was a writer; I’m not so sure anymore and it makes me sad.

    I am now wondering if I was just in love with the IDEA of being a writer. But if that’s the case, why can’t I stop thinking about it?

    I didn’t expect to write all that, but there it is. I really just wanted to say hello.

    • Ollin says:

      Hello, Gina. Haha. Sounds like you are a writer to me. Otherwise you wouldn’t have visited WriteToDone and come to my blog. Don’t doubt yourself. Trust your inner voice. It will never fail you.

    • Charlie says:

      Hi Gina,

      I agree with Ollin. You’re a writer. It is just that you could be blocked by the idea that your prose should be great or something like that, right? Because I’m sure that you’re not empty. You have a life, you’re adult, you’ll have your fair share of sadness and happiness… So yes, you’ve got things to write. It is just that you have to believe in yourself.

      I was like you. I was in love with the idea of writing, but when I finally got to write I felt like almost all was horrible and, yes, empty. But then, one day, when I was ready, some pieces started to fit together and I started to write a little story. It grew, it grew, it grew… And today I’m very close to end my first novel. All I needed was stop fearing and letting my feelings and thoughts flow into the paper. And a lot of patience and hours writing, sure, but first things first!

      I hope you to find that courage to trust yourself!

      • Ollin says:

        Great point Charlie! Thanks for offering Gina encouragement! That’s the kind of writing community I want to be a part of.🙂

  5. Fantastic post, Ollin, and thanks for the mention. A little encouragement for those of us struggling to get back into our writing goes such a long way. The want to write and the love to write are even more valid than a possible paycheck for a handful of words.

    The LOVE of writing makes you a writer, whether life gets in the way or not.

    I’m going to reblog this, because I have plenty of writer friends who are long over due for this message.

    Thanks again, Ollin. You’re fantastic! *hugs!*

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks for the reblog! Hope you come back to read all the comments here. I’m hoping it will remind you that you are not alone. Good luck to you and best wishes!

      Hugs

  6. […] "For those of us who have suffered, who have hauled ourselves into the sun, anything exhausted beside us is family." -Mark Nepo When I first came in to the blogging scene, I remember reading many bloggers who would look down on so-called "writers who don't write." These bloggers were quick to demean these writers and scoffed at the idea that they would even call themselves "writers." For those narrow-minded bloggers, a writer was someone who was … Read More […]

  7. T.S. Bazelli says:

    Like I said on Stephen’s blog, there was a long period of time that I didn’t write, and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. It’s just part of who I am. I think its important to acknowledge that in others.

    You know, it’s funny but people rarely hesitate to call someone an artist (whether or not they sell work in galleries). I don’t know why writers sometimes get hung up on publication as a measure of validity.

    • Ollin says:

      T.S.: I know why. Because there are people in our community who will assert that publication is what makes you a writer.

      That’s why we all have that in our heads. It might even be some publishers and agents etc who assert this. Maybe some blogs. That’s why I hope that this post sets it straight:

      You love to write, you feel you are a writer–then, you are a writer.

  8. Marnie says:

    I agree, Ollin. I told myself for years that I wasn’t a writer because I didn’t have the time to sit down and put it to paper. I see that I was wrong. I’ve always been a writer, but now I’m able to publish posts to my blog several times a week. And that’s only because of good fortune.

  9. Having worked in the nursing field for over thirty two years and calling myself a RN in neurosurgery it became part of my identity. Now I have a hard time when people ask what do I do. I do have a hard time saying “I write”.And I have a hard time calling myself a writer even though a publishing house has shown interest in my Children’s book and I recently got published in a newsletter. It helps but does that make me a writer? No. What makes me a writer is what I tell myself I am. It’s who you are not what you do that makes your identity.

    • Ollin says:

      Congrats on your children’s book and feature in a newsletter! That’s great.

      You know sometimes we think we are looking for external validation, but really what we want is for us to accept ourselves. Once we accept we are a writer, then we can move on to bigger and better things!

  10. Cordelia says:

    This post is so very needed by so many writers out there, myself included.

    I used to write voraciously as a child–I don’t even know now how the words kept pouring out of me, but it was as easy (and constant) as breathing. Then somewhere around freshman year of college, my writing dried up, and it was a good 10 years (wow, I just realized that) before it came back in full force this winter.

    All throughout that dry spell, I kept telling people I “used” to be a writer. I felt like a fraud telling people I *was* one when I was only thinking and talking and reading about writing, not actually writing. But the truth is, even though the words were stuck in me at that point, the stories were still in my head. I was still writing phrases and paragraphs in my mind, even though I didn’t have the spirit to put them down because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take them anywhere.

    “If deep down inside you know you are a writer, then you are a writer.” When you really have that writing spirit in you, you know it. And you shouldn’t ever feel like you don’t just because you’re going through a tough patch.

    Kudos to you for reaching out to those of us who’ve struggled or are struggling to bring our writing out. There are a million and one blogs out there offering writing tips, but I’ve never found one that offers such empathy and encouragement, especially to “writers who don’t write.” No wonder you were named one of the top 10 writing blogs. 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Cordelia: Because those million and one blogs don’t listen, they just preach. If they listened they would find out what was really bothering their readers. And often time what is bothering you guys isn’t the actual writing itself–it’s life and the many challenges getting in the way.

      Continued best wishes to you and your journey!

  11. krisceratops says:

    Hi Ollin. Thanks for this post. I feel like it was written just for me. I’ve been one of these writers-who-don’t-write for a couple of months now, and I have felt completely alienated by the writing community because of it. I already feel bad enough about neglecting my own work without having others make me feel worse about it.

    In fact, I was so inspired that I pulled out my notebook and I have now written five brand new pages toward my novel, which has been otherwise untouched for a couple of months. There is a great power in knowing that at least one other person believes in me🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Well, you know that comment just made my day!

      I’ve been where you and others are at, and I knew that at that time I did not want other people’s scorn, I wanted their compassion and their understanding. I knew I was a writer, I just needed the courage to sit down and write. I took me a while but I got there. So I know that what is true for me is true for all of you.

      You all just need a little encouragement from you community. I’m glad it helped.

  12. Aw Ollin, what a great post, and so very true. We always try, but sometimes, life gets in the way of things, and I of all people totally understand that. I had a few months writing full time, and I found out it wasn’t the wonderful thing I thought it would be. Now, I am unable to really concentrate on it, because I have more pressing things to deal with. So as you say: Life has gotten in the way. Hope to be back sometime soon🙂

  13. From a writer who often doesn’t write and gets very miserable because of it — thanks for the insight and inspiration.

  14. Ollin, this was exactly what I needed. My life hasn’t let me write in so long (see my latest post in how long it’s really been http://disgruntledwriterscircle.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/another-chapter/). I just didn’t have time. I had tons of ideas, but I had so many other tasks to complete first. And then all those burned me out so when I finally did sit down to write I just really couldn’t. Thanks for reminding me of who I really am and keeping me going.

  15. Thanks for the shout-out Ollin. I agree that there’s so much out there that asserts that it’s easy to write – even many pro writers will often assert that it’s easy to find time to write even if they concede that actually producing great, readable, publishable-quality prose isn’t that easy at all. I cited Jay Lake, for instance, in my post, who gets props for keeping up a demanding writing schedule while working a full time job and battling cancer. I read a post once that was like “If Jay Lake can do that and keep writing, then what’s your excuse.” As if to suggest that this was the ultimate measuring stick, and no life challenge could possibly be compared to this.

    But that’s totally bogus: every circumstance is different, and can only be evaluated on its own merits. Jay Lake, for instance, was already a published, award-winning, and honored writer when cancer struck. A published and award-winning writer is a totally different circumstance than unpublished and unrecognized – which is the circumstance that the majority of us writers, including us “writers who don’t write”, find ourselves in. Those differing circumstances can only naturally result in differing outcomes, and this includes a differing capacity to find time to write.

    So I have to agree with the sentiment: if you love to write, if your passion is writing, and writing is what you want to do, then you’re a writer. That’s the qualification. We can quibble about other definitions and whether publication has any meaning as validation for a writer, but ultimately, being a writer has more to do with the desire inside than anything external. We can’t always control our external circumstances; rather, we are who we are inside.

    • Ollin says:

      All very valid points. I completely agree. What I hate is the wagging of the finger at people. Some bloggers will say that if you don’t write then: “Oh, you’re a bad writer, tsst, tsst.” But then those people don’t offer any solutions to real problems writers face, they just make you feel guilty and worthless.

      It’s better to listen and then offer up your understanding if you can’t provide a solution. Good luck to you, DISCOVERED author.😉

  16. Just a few words that this post deserves:

    SENDING LOVE TO ALL YOU WHO DO NOT WRITE (YET)🙂

    As Always,
    BrownEyed

  17. indowaves says:

    Hey Ollin ! You never fail to inspire the new breed of writers.Though I have traveled a long distance in the world of writing,it’s , nevertheless, a great experience to go through your writings. I may have emerged as a good writer but I am of the opinion that life of a writer is full of anxieties, apprehensions,insecurities and no amount of success can make him above such demons.That’s the reason why I feel you are doing a good job.Enabling new breed of future writers to overcome their weaknesses.

    Anyway,I must also add that writer’s task might not be that glamorous and worth pursuing as other high profile jobs but in the end of the life’s journey the writer emerges as the real hero.For he/she is the only one who comes to have the glimpse of the true meaning of life.

    And yes,I may not be commenting that often on your posts but it should not occur to you that I am not reading.Reading is not always commenting :-))

    Arvind K.Pandey

    http://indowaves.wordpress.com/

    • Ollin says:

      Arvind,

      Yes I am aware of my shy readers.🙂 One can have a lot of money, but happiness is just not bought.

      Being yourself is your shortcut to true happiness–that I know for sure.

      Good luck to you!

  18. tahliaN says:

    What a heart warming post, and what a wonderful world it would be if we could all just treat everyone with respect, love and compassion. I certainly send love to those who can’t write and want to, and even too those who would put them down. I would not want to live in a mind so narrow.

  19. jannatwrites says:

    Great post, Ollin. And you’re going to get no arguments from me about how life gets in the way, and impacts writing. I’ve never paid attention to the “writing community” but I wonder if excluding people from the group or putting them down because they aren’t published is way to make themselves seem more important? Just a theory.

    I used to get all wrapped up in guilt when I didn’t write, but now I go with it more. Besides, if I’m not writing, I’m researching (reading)!

    • Ollin says:

      Good point. Maybe it’s just their own insecurity. I think there is also this fear that there is only a “select” amount of slots out there for writers. I think it’s all this myth about scarcity and the idea that we can’t all be writers, there won’t be enough room for readers!

      Seriously, I think that was a title of a post I read somewhere. But I think they want the term “writer” to be reserved for those who are “perfect” and “accomplished.” I guess they are afraid of being paired up with random bloggers who blog for a day as their new years resolution but really want to do something else for a living. So they fear it “lowers” them?

      I don’t know, I’m gonna stop theorizing something I don’t understand.

  20. 83October says:

    What an interesting perspective to the idea of ‘who is a writer?’ There’s that debate of what it means to ‘write’…does it necessarily mean working on a particular novel, story, poem, and or article? or does it simply mean little snippets here and there…that will eventually lead to writing that story? My favorite book when i think of writing is Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet wherein he writes:

    ” Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

    I think a writer is someone who knows s/he must write. Maybe it will take time before one sits down and begin the actual manuscript. Rilke says ‘build your life in accordance’…it doesn’t happen overnight…life is part of writing and maybe for some it takes more time to build.

    So, to those who haven’t sat down and put to letters those swirling ideas…
    You are a writer…no matter what other people say.

    • Ollin says:

      GREAT quote 83!

      I’m gonna have to save that one. And what a wonderful note to leave those writers who don’t write. I’m sure they appreciate it very much!

  21. Alex McDavid says:

    Thank you. I needed to hear that.

  22. Erin says:

    Great post. In our society that is so focused on “product,” it can be confusing to explain that writing is a process. Yes, the product might be a poem in a literary magazine or a novel to shop around, but the process is so much more than that. The process of writing is a constant unfolding that resists all efforts to mechanize and expedite. I find that if I commit myself to spending time each day in the process of writing – that might be brainstorming, drafting, revising, researching markets, or reading – then I am honoring myself as a writer. If I allow myself to get bogged down in the product of writing, I no longer find as much joy in the process. Thanks for opening a space for all of us to encourage each other rather than indulging in a scarcity economy, as if there are not enough readers in the world hungering for the solace our writing might offer them.

  23. Romina says:

    I love what you wrote here in your. blog particularly this article about writers who do not and cannot write. For the longest time, I knew I was a writer but because I have not been published, except in my own blogs, I could not tell others that “I A M A WRITER!” Good thing you shed light on this. From now on, I will always tell other people that I am a writer. Thanks for the encouragement..and by the way. thanks also for the courage to tell that to us writers. More power to you…

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was such a beautiful post and so completely what I’ve been thinking forever and wanting someone to say out loud. I am a writer. I always have been. But writing, the simple act of writing, is so painful. Even with my love of words, even with my yearning to express myself with writing, it hurts. It’s just too important. And my perfectionism and fear have made it so difficult to write. And not just fiction, but blog posts, even Twitter can be overwhelming.

    As I’ve gotten older and wiser, and I’ve learned the value of compassion for myself and others, and perfectionism has loosened its grip, the writing has gotten easier. At least more enjoyable. But it’s still hard, and still scary. And sometimes I still stop myself to go do laundry, the dishes, my nails. But I always come back to it because I know I am a writer. Thank you so much for acknowledging that, too.

    • Ollin says:

      You’re welcome Diane. I know that sometimes just validating a person’s experience can be very healing and have a positive effect. I knew that this post would hit a nerve and would free people to be themselves.

      Some just don’t understand: a writer who does not write is suffering. They don’t want to be in that position. So then why blame them for it? Give them patience and you will see that they will find their way to what they love, always.

  25. Thank you for this Ollin!
    I’ve been feeling like a big fake lately as just when I finally got up the nerve to call myself a Writer, life did it’s thing…
    And now, I am mostly a writer who doesn’t write.
    Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. The next couple of months will be insanely hectic, and then they will settle and I will have space in my brain for writing again.
    I find that life really does determine my writing ability. For example, when I don’t want to write about what is going on in my life at the moment, I often find it difficult to write anything at all. I am hoping that a less hectic schedule will help.
    Thanks again!

  26. jesswords10 says:

    Oh, I wish I had found this post three months ago when I started blogging! It would have meant so much. I just recently became a writer who writes again, and it was sooooo difficult to give myself the time and energy to do so. Life does get in the way, and still does often, but it’s up to each of us to not fall back into thoughts of “someday” and make it about “what can we do today?” I made a resolution this year that I would write everyday, even if it’s 10 words. To all those writers who feel they don’t write, just write 10 words a day, and hopefully, on a good day, you’ll write even more! Good luck, good luck, good luck!

  27. This is a wonderful post. I agree that it’s not fair to make writers who want to write, but don’t, feel less than. When I was in college studying creative writing I felt like commitment was this badge of honor I was meant to covet. It always seemed like other writers had more of it than I did, until finally I realized that everyone’s journey is different. We don’t all go at the same pace. Some of us are sprinters, others are slow but steady, others are barely getting warmed up.

    It’s a lot like a marathon: everyone runs for a different reason. Some people will pass others as they go, but there’s no need to discourage anyone along the way.

  28. Tammy McLeod says:

    Thanks for this Ollin. It’s lovely and it’s lovely of you to offer support and understanding for those who haven’t “made it to your stage” yet. Blogging has been helpful for me in this way.

  29. Heather S. says:

    See, I think those narrow minded bloggers were confusing being “writer” with being an “author.” I think anyone who takes their craft seriously enough to work at it and learn how to get better at it is a “writer,” regardless if they are currently practicing (hee!) or not.

    Being an “author” requires a different set of criteria (being published and/or being paid for being published).

    One is no less valid than the other, IMHO, and quite honestly, there are some “authors” who could stand to be more “writer”-like than they are!😛

  30. Thank you my friend. The first time I saw your blog I felt that you were part of our “flock” and believe that till date. And then you flapped your wings harder and harder, until one day you actually started hopping off the ground. We are waiting to see you fly.

    For the last few days( weeks?) I was thinking about reconsidering being a writer for life. You know what – I am a writer:-)

    Thanks for making that clear.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Keshav, you always have nice things to say! You’re welcome. You’ll get to a point where you will stop doubting, and the real trouble then will be–“how to I make a living off of this now?” Hehe.

  31. […] Why There IS Such A Thing As “A Writer Who Doesn’t Write” And Why He Needs Our Love—Not Our … “If deep down inside you know you are a writer, then you are a writer. Even if you can’t write today, you are still a writer. Even if you CAN write today and you don’t, you are a still writer. Even if you are broke, unknown, and unpublished, you are STILL a writer. As long as you have that little fire in you that tells you that you are writer, then no one can tell you otherwise. You know your truth, and even if you can’t live it today, we all know that one day you will.” ~Ollin Morales at {Courage 2 Create} […]

  32. […] Ollin Morales Sending love to writers who haven’t figured out how to write just yet. […]

  33. I definitely agree, Ollin. Now, writers do write…whether it’s always, sometimes, often, sporadically or eventually, but we all take breaks; long, short, forced or voluntarily. The writer part never disappears completely.

    Funny that you’re talking writing titles here, because I just wrote a post about the title of “artist.” I’ve never had issues with calling myself a “writer.” But, “artist” is another story…

  34. This was a great post! It is also the first post to bring tears to my eyes from among the many I read. I am one of those nameless writers who don’t write. While I have written 2 books, they are unpublished. I have a blog and have written many blog posts, yet I have only published 4 of them. I struggle each time I write. I struggle to expose my writing to others. I struggle with feedback, thinking….they only said they liked it because they were my friends. I struggle with accepting my creativity, my ideas and my responsibility to those ideas. I struggle. Your post brought tears to my eyes becuse, for just a moment, I actually felt a community of strangers who were standing along side me cheering me on. I sincerely thank you for that feeling.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Rosiland!

      And to think that I was recently viciously attacked by another blogger for my stance on supporting and loving writers who struggle to write. Can you imagine that there are people like that out there? People who lack that understanding and compassion? It shocked me, too.

      But thank you for your comment I am reminded why I took the courage to stand up for writers like you, you need our love not our scorn. And to bloggers out there who want to attack me I say: Go ahead, make my day.

  35. K.M. Weiland says:

    The artistic life, in any manifestation, is a unique journey for each unique person. Finding gratification and validation in the act of writing itself is, I believe, vital – vs. allowing ourselves to feel guilty for not having “made it” yet. I do believe, however, that it’s important for writers – whether they’re writers who write or writers who don’t write – to be honest with themselves. If we’re not writing, for whatever reason, we only have reason to feel guilty if we’re being dishonest with ourselves about what we are or aren’t accomplishing. If we’re not writing for good reason, we need to acknowledge that reason, claim it, and allow ourselves to be at peace with it. But we shouldn’t hang onto non-writing excuses that are really veiled attempts to fool ourselves into believing we’re accomplishing something when we’re not. I have all the respect in the world for writers at all stages of the journey, but I will always encourage them to move forward and claim their dreams by actually putting their words to paper.

    • Ollin says:

      Well said K.M. and I completely agree. If your watching hours of Glee and wondering why you don’t have time to write–then this post is not meant for you. I have written dozens of posts about how to be honest with yourself as a writer and take the steps necessary to begin to write.

      But I realized that there were those who had really good reasons for not having the time to write and were not lying to themselves, because the truth is they DID want to write, they just couldn’t. And this is the post meant for them, to help them be at peace with their struggles so that they can overcome them.

      I don’t think any of my regular readers, knowing what I have written in the past, would think I was encouraging people not to write when they can.

      This post goes out to those who can’t write because they HONESTLY can’t.

      But thank you for that clarification K.M. That needed to be said.

  36. Karen Urata says:

    Thanks! That post felt like a warm hug.

  37. Oh you wonderful, wise man, Ollin. Thank you for sharing your writing wisdom with us!🙂

  38. Melanie says:

    Great posting! As a SoulDoc for those in the depths of the creative process, I know how crucial it is to let the birthing of the story (art project/creative manifestation) happen as IT needs to, not as we need it to. The time when it appears to be dead must be honored, even nurtured. For that is the time when the seedlings are sprouting roots, and gaining strength, and moving towards the sun. It’s the time when proper nourishing will support its life. The wrong people will absolutely kill it, out of their own ignorance. Wise, wise words. Thank you.

    • Ollin says:

      You’re welcome. What a great point! I’ve learned that we need to let the work unfold as it needs to, as you say, or else, you are right, rushing it may threaten the piece itself.

  39. Julie says:

    I am a recovering “writer who doesn’t write.” this post nearly brought me to tears. Thank you so much for saying what needed to be said.

  40. Lex Falcon says:

    Hi, Ollin. I’m new to your blog (and WordPress in general), but I had to comment on this. There are plenty of other posts I may well comment on as I take a look around — I love your writing style and, for whatever it’s worth, I’ve already subscribed to this and followed you on Twitter, looking forward to more from you — but this one really struck a chord.

    Like you, I’m wrestling with my first ‘real’ novel. It’s been brewing for seven years or more, and this thing is, in many ways, my life. Heck, I was crazy enough not only to work out parts of the main characters’ language (which would be more useful if it wasn’t a dead language by the time of the story I’m telling in the novel itself) and alphabet, but to get his name tattooed — in his language — on my left upper arm. Even more insane: I have never regretted that for one moment.

    I’m an on-again, off-again writer. I’m not quite a Writer Who Doesn’t Write, but I have long off-periods from my beloved Novel-That-Isn’t. During those times, I’m usually writing bits and pieces of flash fiction — partially so I can still rationalise that I am a writer — but the Novel-That-Isn’t is my big thing, and I feel less like a writer when I’m not actively working on it.

    This post makes me realise that I don’t have to write in order to be ‘a writer’. I don’t have to write the flash fictions and short stories to validate my existence as a Person Who Writes (though I will continue to do so, because I enjoy it). I don’t have to be knocking out three thousand words a day on the Novel-That-Isn’t in order to be ‘working on’ the Novel-That-Isn’t. The very fact that I write, that the stories in my head are there, churning away, maturing, developing, waiting until the time and the inspiration is right for me to get them onto the page or screen, makes me a writer.

    A friend on another blog (I have a personal LiveJournal, separate to this WordPress writing journey) recently posted an entry about meeting a new friend who, after asking her what she did and receiving a reply along the lines of “I’m studying for a PhD, oh, and I write a bit”, queried whether she considered herself a writer. In her post, she explained how she came to the realisation that just because her ‘real life’ — the PhD — often got in the way of her writing, that didn’t mean that she was no longer a writer. I read the post with interest and it resonated a bit, but your article here really drove the point home.

    Similarly, I like to draw, but suffer long periods of artist’s block. Does that mean I’m not an artist (maybe not a very good one — I’m not that vain — but an artist nevertheless)? No. For some strange reason, that’s always been clearer than the distinction between Writer and Not A Writer (and/or Writer Who Doesn’t Write). I may not be drawing stuff right now, but I still draw, therefore I’m an artist (of questionable talent, but still an artist in my head).

    Why the heck, then, am I not always a writer?

    So what if I’m not writing the Novel-That-Isn’t right now? So what if I occasionally abandon it in favour of a short story set in a completely different world? I’m still a writer — heck, I’m a novelist. I’m a novelist whose novel is still a work in progress, but that makes it no less valid or valuable. It’s a pretty powerful realisation, and I thank you for it.

    • Ollin says:

      You’re so welcome. I am glad you found this post helpful. Many of my readers did, as you can see, it is one of my most commented posts of all time. Let me say it succinctly: yes you are a writer. People who are not writers don’t spend that much time like you or me {years sometimes} wondering if we are, trying to debate whether we should or shouldn’t call ourselves that, or trying to define it. It’s simple. Writing is being. Not doing. When we are who we are–we write. When we go against our nature–we don’t write. We suffer. It’s as simple as that, and we shouldn’t be harsh with people who don’t write, they are suffering. I know it, because my readers have told me. Thank you for you thoughtful comment.

Comments are closed.