When A Writer Hates Writing

Just the thought of typing one more word...
Photo By Channah

I don’t want to do this crap, I thought to myself a few times while sitting in my office.  I stared at the blank template that I magically turned into an article or press release. I say magic because my heart wasn’t invested. For the first time in my life, I lost my love for writing.  

The nonprofit I worked for became a toxic, drama-filled environment that sucked the passion out of me. Simple projects turned stressful when funders with zero understanding of media production called the shots. This was beyond irritating for a person like me who came from the newsroom with a master’s degree in journalism. I was paid much less than my superviors/editors who did not match my level of experience and education. All but one really knew about reporting and writing in AP Style. Oh the joy of receiving a two-paragraph email about my “misuse” of comma placements when my To-Do list could've filled a toilet paper roll. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good editor. A good editor enhances your piece while keeping your voice.  A bad editor adds run-on sentences because they think adding lots of words with semicolons ;;; in a long ass, anaconda-length sentence will make it come off more intelligent. I enjoyed working in the community but the bad outweighed the good. I  was so burnt out that I got to a point where I became a robot and wrote whatever my superiors wanted.  

I pushed myself to write for my job because I needed a paycheck. I lacked the energy and desire to write for myself. The last thing I wanted to do at home, after an exhausting day, was open Word. I liked blinking cursors as much as geeks like the movie Catwoman. I stopped blogging on my website. I tried working on a book proposal, but had difficulty concentrating. The most I could do was write in my journal about how miserable I was feeling. Even walking down the stationary aisles at Target and Office Max didn’t excite me anymore. Writing, with the exception of journaling, wasn’t fulfilling my spirit like before.

This is me writing, before I fell out of love. 

I used to laugh at veteran writers who said only a crazy person wants to be a writer. Now I understand. Writing is not easy. Many of us love to do it, but are underpaid. We torture ourselves with heavy self-criticism and perfectionism. You need a thick skin when it comes to handling critique. Writing is both an art and a skill that some take for granted. 

The burn out from my job and feeling taken advantage of broke my writer’s heart. Writers stop loving writing, for various reasons. When that happens we need to make changes in our lives.

--You’re bored with the topic you cover and need a new beat. The upside to my last job was that in addition to PR, I facilitated a community speakers bureau. Editing speeches became something new that I enjoyed

--If you’re lacking inspiration, try another hobby to stimulate creativity. For me, that’s dancing. For you, it may be painting, gardening, web coding, building things, etc.

--It could be time for a new scene, like what Diane Lane’s character experienced in Under the Tuscan Sun (I love that movie!).

--Personal or professional stressors in your life can drain creative energy as well. What changes do you need to make in those areas?

--  Focusing more on reading for enjoyment than writing helps too. Reading relaxes you and then reminds you why you love to write.  It can also stimulate ideas for topics to write about.

--Read or watch stories about writers and their writing journeys. I love bell hooks’ Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life and The Words starring Bradley Cooper. It makes you feel like you’re not alone in your frustrations.

One of my favorite movies!
--Take a break from writing. It’s okay to put the pen and keyboard on hiatus every once and a while.  One of my journalism professors encouraged us to take career fellowships when we’re feeling tired of the newsroom. 

The cure for my sickness of writing was first recognizing that I really didn’t hate writing. My job was the problem. Deep funding cuts to my department were blessings in disguise. My skills were no longer needed so I left. Becoming a part of writing communities has been healing too. As my last workday approached, I began branching out to meet other writers. I started going to Liminal, a new feminist writing space in Oakland. Attending the readings at Liminal re-sparked my creativity. Fellowshipping with writers was so refreshing. They understand my loathe of run-on sentences and my appreciation for good editors.

     After I left my job and got some rest, I couldn’t wait to write again. I haven’t had this feeling in a few years. This is the new chapter in my life I hoped for.