Staring at a blank page, not knowing what to write can seem time-wasting.
That’s because it is.
In the gig era, it’s hard to justify not doing something you like as a side hustle. If you consider yourself a writer, the thought of not pursuing your craft all the time can seem wasteful — lazy even.
What was it, though, that made writing your preferred side hustle and hobby? It isn’t your 9–5 for a reason.
Passion drives most writers more than anything. However, even the most passionate of hobbyists and side hustlers hit dry spells occasionally.
Sound advice teaches us to write even when we don’t feel like it. Some days I don’t feel like exercising. It doesn’t mean I should come up with excuses not to.
Writing, however, is different. It’s an art. You must force it if it pays the rent. But if it doesn’t, it’s okay not to write at times.
In Strauss: The King of 3/4 Time, Johann Strauss — played by Michael Riley — plays Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata on the piano as stable boy Nicholas — played by Derek Senft — listens.
“Do you think I could write music like that someday?” asks Nicholas.
“Nicholas, if music is in your blood, you will have to write,” responds Strauss. “Nothing will stop you.”
On face value, this sounds arrogant. Strauss, the successful composer, is telling this lowly stable boy with an abusive stepfather that his dreams depend on his genes. Although it’s very fitting for the 19th-century-based film, there is a nugget of truth to that statement.
This isn’t so much a question of the nurture vs nature argument as it is debating what’s best for those who are clearly artistically endowed but have hit a wall in their creativity — a central theme of the movie.
If writing is in our blood, it will come out. Sometimes, however, it takes a little time off to rekindle our imagination and passion.
Good writers are a dime a dozen today. Medium is full of good writers. But many of them repeat the same repackaged notes over and over. There’s nothing wrong with that; I’m sure their bank accounts reinforce this fact. But we shouldn’t feel unfulfilled if we’re not hitting a particular quota.
It’s okay not to write if you don’t have anything to say — or if what you have to say seems like a drag to say it.
Besides, taking time away to experience life provides new anecdotes, lessons, and stories to share. Give it time. If you had something to say in the past — if you loved writing in the past — if you gained readers in the past, it can and will happen again.
Trust the process. Trust your instincts. And, most importantly, trust your tastes.
Graucho Marx famously said, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” If you’re not having fun writing, it’s okay to stop.
Take some time to become a consumer again. Read. In the process, you may rekindle an interest in topics you previously found chore-like. You also may find the reason writing ever seemed like a chore is because it was in your blood to write about different topics altogether.
Originally published on Medium