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You Can’t “Make” Yourself Write


I don’t know about you, but there are times when I can’t write.

I have an ex who accuses me of loving drama because I’m a writer.

Oh honey, no. Hell no.

Maybe drama helps some writers write, I don’t see how, but hey. When I have shit going down, drama, pretty much anything that makes me cry or stress this bad, I lose a lot of functionality.

And the first thing to go when I’m stressed is my writing.

I don’t know exactly what chemicals in the brain are involved with my specific anxiety and depression, but I can say, whatever they are, when they are low/high, whatever they aren’t supposed to be…

I’d say drum-roll please for the drama, but you already know where I’m going with this.

I. Can’t. Write.

The last time this happened was first year of law school. I was out of my parent’s house for the first time, living in a new state for the first time, fell for a guy, lost it to him and had my heart ripped out and dropped kicked for the first time, and I was being seriously academically challenged for the first time.

I’m on the Asperger’s Spectrum (no, not as far as Sheldon Cooper, I just have a harder time reading people and situations than average) and part of that is I don’t adjust well to change, and even for a “normal” person, that would have been a lot of change in about a month.

I had no brain power, but for the first time in my life, I needed all of my brain for school.

Writing stopped completely, as in, I didn’t even try to write anything fictional for 3 years, and didn’t really get anything fictional done for a year after that.

Basically 3 years for law school and the bar exam, and 1 year for my brain to limp back.

By then, I was pretty settled in a home again, was still job hunting because all jobs for a few years after law school were only temporary ones, but I didn’t put in as much time job hunting as I probably should have for it to be really effective, and I was able to write again.

It took a bit to get back into it, I spent that last year saying I was “getting back into my writing,” writing blog posts and writing little snippets of fiction that didn’t go anywhere.

And when you’ve been out of it that long, that’s what you have to do. It’s kind of like working out. If you haven’t worked out in years, you have to start small and be okay with slow progress. It doesn’t matter if you used to run marathons, if you haven’t in years, you have to be okay with hitting the elliptical and lifting a few weights to get the belly down and the muscles built back up before you start jogging, and work your way back up to running miles.

Right now, I’m a mess. I basically had a divorce without the paperwork, am trying to rebuild my life and I don’t even know what I want it to be, and I hate where I live because it’s an apartment and it’s supposed to have good walls, but I have evil neighbors who insist on blasting their bass and making enough noise to hear through the thicker walls and over my fans (which I have for white noise because I hate hearing my neighbors).

I hate it because it’s a studio apartment I feel trapped in.

I hate it because it’s not my home.

My home’s gone.

And I don’t write easily without having a safe, comfortable place to go back to that’s mine and peaceful. So even when I’m away from that and in a nice, safe, comfortable place, like I am while I’m on vacation, I’m still not writing.

I’ve written 25K words over a 3 day weekend before, and done massive rushes of 18K words in a few days where I actually had to work a full day before it to finish Nanowrimo.

And now? I can’t even bang out a few thousand words while I’m in Utah and basically chilling during the days while everyone is at work. My dad has a big, beautiful house, and a lovely deck, perfect for writing. Exactly what I’d want to come home too.

dad patio legs

So why can’t I write?

Because your brain isn’t a machine. You can’t just set up the right circumstances and turn it on. Right now I’m okay and at peace in my home, but in general, that is not my life. In general, I’m stressed out, work takes a lot out of me, and the place I’m living is now this horrible place where I’m at risk of being attacked by neighbors’ noises all the time so I’m always on edge.

It doesn’t matter if for this week I’m in a safe space, because my brain still has all that anxiety and unhappiness wrapped up in it. And it’s going to take more than a few days of peace to get that calmed down.

Giving up and not writing until I sort out my life isn’t really an option though. I have books out and a business to keep running.

9 years ago when I dropped writing when I went to law school, I was letting a hobby sit on the back-burner because I didn’t have the brain power for it.

Now? This is one of my jobs. It’s my business. I have books out and built up momentum. I was really proud of myself because I grossed $10K last year. Which isn’t a lot of money for a year, especially after you take out expenses and taxes, but as a second job, that’s pretty good. And it meant that many people liked my books enough to buy them. I had built up enough momentum to hit that benchmark.

And this year it fell away. I haven’t had time or energy to put into figuring out marketing, so that’s hurt me, especially after Amazon changed its ads. I don’t know what they did back in April, but my sales nosedived while I was still racking up ad charges, and I haven’t had it in me to figure out what the hell happened there.

I haven’t written barely at all this year. I’ve written about 87K words in 3 different books, none beyond the halfway point or so. The last book I put out was at the end of December. Not good when you’re an indie author. It means I’m losing that momentum I built.

So what do I do?

I honestly don’t know. I’ll probably be posting on here about it as I figure it out in the hopes of helping other authors trying to find their writing again as well as finding mine.

I know I have to get to where I feel happy, safe, and at peace again. That’s going to require my own place as just a beginning. One where I don’t share walls with neighbors, because it’s way too easy for them to wreck my peace when I do, and you can never guarantee that you won’t have shitty neighbors, even in a nice building like mine was supposed to be. (I don’t know who let the trash into a supposedly nice building, but I’m doing my damnedest to get it thrown out.)

Nashville is not cheap right now. I’ve been told it’s a bad time to buy because the market is going to crash again, and soon, but soon in real estate terms is not soon in human terms.

And even after I have a little house rented or something like that, I still have to deal with the fact that I am not happy. I’d be removing one stress, and creating a place for myself, something I haven’t had in almost a year now. But I still wouldn’t have a home. Back in law school, it took me a year and moving close to campus so most of my friends were around to feel like I had a home.

Most of my law school friends moved away. Most of the friends I’ve made since then are scattered around Nashville or further out in Tennessee, so I only see them here or there. So I know I can’t replicate what I did in the past to build a home. But I don’t know how to make one.

Now that I’m saying this, there’s probably going to be a lot of posts while I figure this out.

If anyone has ideas on dealing with life after your life has fallen apart, I’m all ears.

Until then, happy writing and good mental health.

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