When Not to Write

Vivian Probst, author of DEATH BY ROSES, shares that there are times when not writing can make you a better writer.
Publish date:

Sometimes in order to write, it’s important not to write. If you’re a writer and you feel stuck, imagine that there’s an important reason you can’t get past that paragraph or get the next chapter going. Take a break!

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Column by Vivian Probstauthor of DEATH BY ROSES (Feb. 2015, SelectBooks).
Her novel began after Vivian's older sister died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2008.
She worked through her grief for five years as she wrote her novel.She and her
husband live in Delafield, Wisconsin, surrounded by their children, step-children,
and the most amazing eleven grandchildren on planet Earth (or so Vivian claims).
She is happily at work, as there are more stories begging to be written. Follow
her on Twitter

What I’m learning as I write Death by Violets is that the story is still writing, even if I’m not. My job is to trust that process and to pay attention.

I don’t mean that we can go for days and weeks, months and years without writing. No way! I mean that there are moments when we just need to listen, lift our thoughts out of the project we’re working on, look up at the world and engage in life beyond it.

A writer once told me, “You have to write eight hours a day.” I disagreed, respectfully and still do. Maybe I’m weird but I sort of know when to write and when not to write. Anyone who knows me also knows that I get crabby if I can’t write every day. If I’m out of sorts, my husband or my assistant will look up at me and ask, “Did you do any writing today?” Ha! Busted!

Know yourself as a unique individual and writer. Try not to get into someone else’s routine-it’s an uninspired way to live.

I’ve read a number of books about writing. My absolute favorites are Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft and Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

I took a one-month writing sabbatical, my first ever. I wondered if I could live like this forever.

Here’s what I got one day, by not writing:

Everything we think is WRONG in our lives is an invitation to become more of who we really are, not by shunning it, but by embraceable surrender and compassion as we open that every door wider to our wonder and our magnificence.

Nowhere is what’s WRONG more acutely visible than in our most intimate relationships—with those whom we say we love most deeply, for in one another we reveal our shadows in order to see and release their mocking illusions, their hypocrisy, their false claim on our souls.

Sorrow becomes laughter becomes anger becomes joy becomes suffering becomes beauty becomes hatred becomes love, always arching, encircling, opening to glimpses of who we are becoming—our most glorious, infinite selves.

Where did that come from?

GIVEAWAY: Adrienne has won this giveaway. 


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