What to do if you haven't written for a long, long time.

write

Not long ago, I received the following question from a subscriber. I asked him if I could share it with you, and he graciously agreed.


Dear Sarah,

I've always enjoyed writing, not just creatively. As an introvert, it's enabled me to communicate more readily. However, I haven't written anything creatively for quite a few years now. I'm concerned that I've squandered my passion, and lost the knowledge for creative writing indelibly.

In your professional opinion, Sarah, have I lost my edge? If so, how can I get it back?


Our creative life is always accessible to us. It may feel rusty, or far away, or foggy, yes -- but it's always there. It's in our nature. We are creative beings. I don't think anyone ever loses creative knowledge indelibly. Practice makes us better and better, yes - but the impulse to create is always pure gold.


Writing begets writing.

The best way to find your passion for creative writing is to write creatively.

You have to be good to yourself when you begin writing, though. Treat yourself like a sweet, sweet thing.

As you write those first awkward sentences -- treat them with kindness. Any dread about squandered time -- feed it love and reassurance.

These things will also help you reconnect:

▪ Put away clocks and watches for a month. Let yourself start to feel time in a natural way.

▪ Avoid television and movies for at least two weeks. Your writing mind needs emptiness and white space.

▪ Write by hand for ten minutes every day, before you turn on your computer, before you check email.

▪ Read a copy of Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.

▪ Go for walks. Your walks should be least 20 minutes long. Do not pick a destination or goal - just walk.


If you are reading this right now and you're afraid that too many years have passed for you, that you've missed your writing window, please take heart. There are no writing windows that you have to squish yourself through. There are no walls, in fact.

Your creative mind is right here, right now. It's with you, in the big wide space of your being.

The very fact that you're reading this is showing you that you're still in a relationship to your writing. You might be out of touch, or even estranged from each other, and that's painful. But you can repair the relationship. Start simply. Start by writing a letter.

If you are ready to seriously reconnect with your writing, consider giving yourself the Story Course. It's not too late. SSMind reconnects you to your writing, your creativity, and your love of language. Why not just go for it? You'll feel so much better once you start.

Love,

Sarah Selecky

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of these links, I may earn a commission. I only recommend books or products I trust.


In The Spotlight: Claire Battershill
Clear the decks!

20 comments

Kathy Martens

Sweet. Thank you Sarah. And also to your subscriber for sharing his heart. Having turned 50 recently and also felt estranged from my creative muse, I too have sadly pondered the same question. Is it too late for me? I decided that I would tune in and see if my own story wanted to be told. A year later, I had written my memoir. The process was hard, but magical. It awakened my voice and my love affair with my imagination. You are ALWAYS an encouragement to me Sarah. Thanks so much for your gentle reminders to love ourselves. <3
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Jim, I feel for you. About 10 years ago, I rediscovered writing after a number of years away, and even then, I went at it in fits and starts. I've always been a little jealous of that trope in author interviews, about how they were writing creatively since the age of four and never once stopped. It feels disheartening, because that's not me, and my writing life probably has spent more stopped than started. But you know, it doesn't matter. As I've started writing again, and found my way into a writing community again, I realized there are lots of stories like mine, of people who had to find their way back to the creative writing life. And the amazing part is that it's always there. Sarah always talks about writing as a relationship. Once, in a particularly low period (writing-wise) I wrote a letter of apology to writing for not being there, for squandering time on other things, for simply not showing up when I knew that writing was so very precious to me. But who was I really apologizing to? Writing is patient. Writing is kind. Writing doesn't blame me for not being there and writing isn't going to withhold anything from me. I can show up anytime, and writing will still be there for me. Writing is still there for you, too.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
This is such great advice. I try to write everyday, even if I'm just jotting down thoughts in a journal on the subway. I've been in the process of completing a short story manuscript for a few years, but it always helps to just write something- anything.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
So much of this post struck home for me. I have had a 40-year career as a professional writer, but one who left his creative hat back in his university dormitory. I, too, thought it was too late to be the writer I always wanted to be. I was wrong, though. At least I'm pretty sure I was. And your suggestions for reconnecting with my creative guy? I eventually found some of those on my own. I love this validation! Thanks so much for your every day inspiration and information, Sarah. ~ jh
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Debby Hanoka

Well, I turned forty-four years old the other day and I'm just now getting started. I haven't published anything formally, but I write every day. The best advice I ever got was from a professor in a creative writing workshop I took recently, as a non-traditional college student. "Just get it written. You'll revise it later." If you're having trouble starting, try this: Take a well-liked book or tv series and go over it with a critical eye and make a list of how YOU could have written it better. It may not yield much, but it will get your creativity going, and from there anything is possible. Good luck!
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Andrea M Buginsky

Wonderful post, Sarah. I've found myself needing to get back into my writing after not doing so for a while myself. Your tips are great. I wish Jim the best of luck with his writing. -Andrea
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Stephen D. Forman

Jim asks if he's lost his creative edge and how to get it back. The consensus seems to be that his concern is one of growing older, of a window closing. I guess I'd put it to Jim this way, "In 1 year, you can be someone who's put words to paper, who's started writing again and living creatively. You'll feel good about making a start, even if it's just putting one foot in front of the other. Or let your fear paralyze you. You'll still be 1 year older, asking the same question with a little grayer hair: am I too old?" Either way, you're going to be 1 year older. Why not start today?
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Niko Godfrey Bommer

So lovely and encouraging. Not to mention filled with great ideas. Thanks Sarah!
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
This is super reassuring. I'm 21 yet I've been concerned about my muse since I was 16. I wasn't able to produce new work or complete a past project. It didn't help that most of my friends fit that classic author's trope where they have non-stop production of pieces no matter when they started to the point of winning awards and possible publication. At first I felt angry at myself for "wasting" time looking through walkthroughs and pressing out ideas. I was actually ready to hang up my pen this year since I felt like my creative writing days were behind me (and I was journaling everyday too). However, I decided to give writing one more shot and I was lucky to get into a creative writing class. I realized that my muse was just exhausted. I didn't have a shortage of ideas - I just needed a recovery period. While I haven't produced "great" works, it feels good to get back into writing after a 5 year hiatus. Thanks Sarah for the article and Jim for asking that question. It's really reassuring and I hope this brings others back into the swing of things too.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Like several people here, I had not written creatively in many years. The last things I had written were trapped in an old Brother 75 word processor that I used in college. (Got my bachelor's degree at 40 and went straight into the Master's program.) This was in the early 90's, so computers were not available. I had moved that old word processor with me for that long and it had not been turned on for at least 12 or 15 years. But I plugged it in, turned it on, and low and behold, it gave me my stories, printed them looking like an old typewriter. I have revised them into MS, ran them through two critique groups, and have eleven of them that I'm trying to get formatted into a Creatspace ebook. My point is don't give up thinking that you can write creatively. Before I pulled those stories, I wrote two novels in a series and am working on a third. Now to get those revised, rewritten, and ready for publication. I don't expect to make lot of money, but I want to leave my children, and grandchildren, something more interesting than the boring training materials I wrote over the thirty five years I worked.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Sarah and Jim - thank you both. Here I am at age 36 with my first born child about to turn one and my startup business finally getting off the ground, but no novel. I write everyday for my business - marketing, communications and proposals, but it's never for just me. At 19 I dropped out of journalism and majored in creative writing, much to my father-the-geophysicist's dismay. I loved my workshop classes, but at 19 I felt like I didn't have enough life experience to "write about what you know." I told myself, "Don't worry, when you're older you'll pen your first novel." And now I feel like my experiences have welled up, yet I've forgotten to write. But something has shifted. It happened the moment I saw your newsletter subject line in my In Box. I saved your email. I've waited two days to give this message the space it deserves. I feel like I've opened up a little present and my writing voice is right there saying, "Hello - don't worry. I'm still here and I'm not mad at you." Thank you again. I feel full enough to write. Best wishes and happy writing everyone.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Andrew Blackman

Nice post, Sarah. I agree that creativity is not something you lose. You might lose sight of it for a while, but it's always there, waiting to be given the opportunity to be expressed. I like your advice too, and have used most of them, although the point about clocks and watches was something I'd never heard before and am fascinated by - I think I'll give that one a try!
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Debby, That sounds like great advice! I often find myself doing this to a certain degree when I'm reading anyway. Little thoughts like, "That sentence would sound so much better if those last three word were re-ordered." Or, "That opening sentence sucks! It's obvious half way through the very first paragraph, that the author is going for an intense sense of drama right out of the gate. So why ruin the effect by starting with one long, meandering sentence with such a weak connection to rest of the opening paragraph? He should have cut that and led with the second." I haven't even managed a blog post. I think I'll give this method a try. Thank you for shar
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
This is a great post Sarah, thanks for sharing it! Like others, I walked away from my writing for many years. I recommitted about 5 years ago. Sometimes a certain birthday reminds you of the things you've been meaning to do but haven't yet got around to. It can be a foot in the rear to get moving again…at least, that is how it was for me. Your creativity waits for you. Sometimes it takes a little focus and polishing (which is why SSM is such a great gift to yourself), but it comes back. I am often disheartened when I hear stories of writers in their 20's being rather prolific in their writing and I wonder where I'd be now if I'd had more focus then. However, I remind myself that things focus for us when we are ready. I'm ready now. Jim, I hope you are ready too. When you are, your writing will be waiting. :)
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
7 Ways to Express Yourself and Be More Visible You Can Try Right Now | Tamisha Ford

[…] more visible as a writer is very difficult to do when you struggle with it. Read this post by Sarah Selecky to get you started in the right direction. Then, sign up for everything you can with her, so she can help you through that […]
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Dunstan Skinner

I used to teach writing at a university; I wrote both as a student, and as a teacher. Now I don't write more than a daily email. Despite my background, I'm at a loss as to how to begin outside an academic context.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Dylan Devine

I adored this little post. I'm bookmarking this and I want to read more from you later today, but right now I have to get back to writing!
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
I am so truly happy to have come across this website. I used to write constantly even won scholarships for it, but I lost my way. Its been years. Your post and website is like a breath of fresh air. It has given me life. Thank You.
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Sarah Selecky

Thank you, Dylan! S
Read more
Read less
  Cancel
Sarah Selecky

Yay! Thank you Shonelle. I'm so happy you found my site, too. :) As you continue exploring, make sure you check out the stuff in Free Resources (find it under the Offerings menu). xo Sarah
Read more
Read less
  Cancel

Leave a comment