Often writers hear, “You should write every day.” Good advice…maybe. Writing is an out pouring of creativity. If a writer writers every day, when can the “creative well” be replenished? Are there times when a writer shouldn’t write?
Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggests going a week without reading: no books, no newspapers, no backs of cereal boxes, no emails, nothing that involves mentally or physically forming words out of the letters on the paper or monitors. This (along with her other suggestions) is supposed to stimulate your creativity.
I tried to go without reading a few times. I never made it through an entire week. But, if not being able to read for a week supposedly improves creativity, what might be accomplished if the writer couldn’t write for a week—or longer?
If you can’t write, you wouldn’t be able to put that idea that popped into your head just a minute ago onto paper. (No cheating and recording your ideas.) The idea is going to keep running around in your head as you try to remember it. Maybe you get a phone call, and when the call ends you try to remember exactly what the original idea was. Will you remember it exactly? If it’s changed a little, is that bad? Maybe the new idea sounds better. Maybe you now decide that wasn’t such a great idea, but it’s led you in a new direction.
I have no scientific evidence, but I’m pretty sure if I were told I couldn’t write anything down (or get the idea down in any concrete way) for a predetermined amount of time, I’d be really frustrated. Say I restricted myself to a week without any writing. What would my reaction be at the end of that week?
I think I would grab the nearest piece of paper or rush to the computer and start writing or typing anything I could remember that I thought was a great idea or that I figured I needed to change in the ms I was working on. I’d want to get down any and all plotting ideas that I’d played with in my head.
Actually, I’ve never had to go a week without working on any writing, however, I have been forced to spend long lengths of time away from working on specific stories. It’s frustrating. I have a short story I started back in November. I did a lot of work on it for a while, but for two months I haven’t been able to go back to the story. And yes, I’m frustrated, but I’ve also discovered, not being able to work on the story has forced me to think of a different direction I could take the story that might strengthen it. A new twist. I think when I finally can get back to the story, I’m going to be happier with the results. In this case, not writing may be good.
Have any of you tried to go for a length of time without doing any writing? If so, how do you feel it effected you?