Will I Write?

Will I write or not? I asked myself that question about a month ago. When I was in school I did not like writing papers. I preferred to take a test and be done with it. After school, however, I began blogging about topics that interested me and found that I enjoyed it. One time at church I had an idea churning in my head and could not wait to go home and begin writing. I did not check to see whether my friends were having lunch together. Instead I went straight home and began working. Some of my happiest moments were when I was writing.

Then it happened. I wrote less frequently and eventually stopped. I had trouble thinking of ideas. My passion for writing was fading, maybe because it was not accomplishing its goal. I had started a blog to give myself exposure to help me while I searched for a job in my field of study. That never happened. I never found a job, and I lost my drive to write. I have not written on that blog since 2011.

My job search was a significant source of discouragement. A few years later I tried writing again, and then stopped, and then started again, and then stopped again, and so on.

During the periods of not writing I felt as if . . . it is difficult to describe. It was as if, maybe, something was missing. It was also as if I had quit something worthwhile, and that raised the question of what will happen to my unfinished work. Will it come to nothing, a waste? I am not sure if these are entirely accurate descriptions, but they at least approach how I felt.

Something would draw me back to writing, and that raises more questions. If I am supposed to write, then why do I struggle with keeping momentum and passion, running out of ideas, and then quitting? If I keep struggling and quitting, then why do I keep coming back? It seems that writing is what I need to do (Why else would I keep coming back?), but how do I break out of this cycle?

I do not think I have a complete answer, but I think I have three partial answers. First, I need to make a habit of writing every day, regardless of the circumstances, and even when what I write is junk. I never did that in any of my previous attempts. Maybe that will give me some sustainable momentum and get some ideas flowing. I have successfully written every day since Oct. 4. Sometimes the material finds its way in a post on this blog. Sometimes it is personal thoughts on writing. Sometimes it turns into a fun and interesting post. Sometimes it sounds like a good idea at first but looks like junk when I try to write it. Nonetheless I write every day. A thousand words each day is not possible with my work schedule, and so I set the goal of 250 words and later increased it to 300.

Second, I need to decide why I write. Do I write to help myself find a job? If I do that, then the habit will be hard to maintain if I do not find the job. My reason needs to be more fundamental, something related to the person I am. Maybe I will explore this further in a future post.

Third, I need to find my niche. What will I write? If I find what fits me, something I can do well and enjoy, then maybe I can more easily commit to it long term.

Who else has wrestled with these questions? How do you keep your momentum? What do you do when you struggle to think of ideas? What do you do when your writing comes out dry and flat? If this post is helpful, then feel free to share it with other people currently or previously engaged in the same struggle. Maybe we can help each other.

Possible future topics:

  • Why do I write?
  • What will I write?
  • How will I improve my writing?


About henrywm

I am a graduate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. I am interested in Christian theology and church history. I also enjoy science fiction and stories which wrestle with deep questions.
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4 Responses to Will I Write?

  1. tomholste says:

    Believe me, Henry, I know *exactly* what you’re talking about!

    I wrote fiction for years while I was in school (sometimes for classes, sometimes for fun). People liked what I wrote, so I wrote more. After college, I was determined to become a screenwriter. I took a class and worked hard at it for a decade, writing around a dozen scripts.

    But something had somehow changed. People didn’t like my writing anymore when I tried to get professional work that way. They often criticized even my basic concepts, bringing me to the point where I second-guessed myself constantly. Now every idea I get in my head makes me say “That won’t work,” “No one will want to read that,” “I have no idea how to finish that story,” etc.

    I guess I was good once I was a big fish in a small pond, but I couldn’t swim with the big boys and girls. After a decade of having everything I did rejected or ignored, I was broken. I just stopped writing.

    And I know people will say, “If you’re *really* a writer, you should have kept trying! You shouldn’t have let people criticize and discourage you!” But that in itself is just another criticism and discouragement. That doesn’t help me break through the mental/emotional fog.

    Now I write non-fiction on my blog, and at first that fully satisfied me and scratched that itch. But, like you, I still feel like something is missing in my life, like I should be doing something else, something more.

    I think you’re on the right track, and I’m glad you’re doing it! If I get to the point where I have a breakthrough of my own, I’ll certainly let you know!


    • henrywm says:

      Thanks for your comment. I did not deal with people who said I was no good. Instead, when I was living in NC a friend told me a few times that I needed to write because he thought I was good. It did not help me find a job, but I kept writing for a while before I stopped. I have tried short fiction a few times over the last few years. I was never good at that type of writing, but I over the past few years I have had some neat ideas. Bringing them out is a different story. It does not seem to be the right kind of writing for me, but they could be good. About a year ago eI submitted one to a Writer’s Digest competition and later to a magazine. It was rejected both times. I will readily admit that writing fiction is a weakness for me, but I do like writing articles which deal with ideas and analyzing fiction which deals with ideas. I enjoy movies which deal with deep questions, even when I disagree with the message it presents. Something keeps drawing me back to writing, and so I am trying to develop my ability, form a habit of writing, and find my niche.

      By the way, I noticed you focus on film. I will need to keep checking your blog


  2. henrywm says:

    What kinds of fiction and screenplays did you write?


  3. Pingback: Musings at the Park | Here I Ponder

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