Why are you not writing?

You’re miserable because you’re not writing

Perhaps you are miserable because you’re not writing? Stacey experienced that and really nails what it is like to be a writer sometimes in her post titled “All I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is write”.


She expresses how I have felt when I was not writing as much as I would have liked to or when I wasn’t writing the stuff that I needed to write.

I went through a phase last year when the work I was doing was pretty repetitive and not in the least bit challenging. It felt a lot like this:

I’m a writer who doesn’t have the time to write anymore.It makes me miserable, and frustrated and a bit lost. My North Star has winked out.

One of my conclusions about that time turned out to be one of the reasons I started writing much more for myself here and is nicely expressed by Stacey’s advice to herself:

You’re miserable because you’re not writing anymore, Stacey. Write more, dammit.

When I feel adrift, I usually turn to writing because it unblocks the dam of emotion that has built up. It’s a lot like unblocking a drain that you’ve neglected for too long.

At first it is a struggle just to dig out enough muck to reach the blockage itself. Then, when you dig some more, you see all the gunk ooze through and it isn’t pretty. Soon enough, though, that all gives way to a wonderful flow that you don’t want to stop so you keep writing to keep the pipes clear and fresh water flowing.

A side note about “content marketing”

Writing isn’t just mechanically putting some text on a page, at least not for me. It is very much a creative process. I sometimes encounter an attitude about content marketing that disturbs me. It is this idea that you can just pick a topic, throw some words on a page and give it a list-based title and call that “content”.

Well, sure, you can do that and many “content marketers” do that all the time but the result is hollow and formulaic text that may as well be created by a machine (and, one day soon, will be).

As important as it is to write with a voice appropriate to what you are trying to achieve, I don’t think you can write well if you don’t infuse that writing with a little of your voice, your perspective on the world and your passion for writing.

This is how I see the difference between boilerplate marketing “content” and writing that adds something meaningful to whatever I am reading or for and, perhaps, a response to this question:

Do fewer people trust bloggers?

Image credit: Pixabay


8 responses to “You’re miserable because you’re not writing

  1. Snap: missstaceyvee (@MissStaceyVee) avatar

    It’s such a privilege to be able to spark an idea in someone else with my own writing. Thank you, Paul! On a side note: I’ve been pondering the difference between great, useful, thoughtful content and that hollow, paint-by-numbers type of content you’ve mentioned. What’s missing is the art of storytelling, and it’s being diluted even further by our reliance on tech in the content marketing space. You can’t automate storytelling. Just my thought for the day.

    1. Paul avatar

      That is such a relevant issue for me now too. We are working on our messaging and I find myself resisting pressure to start writing like a marketing jargon-o-nator and stick to writing like a human. It isn’t an easy sell to marketers who are not writers and who see marketing writing as a mechanical process of throwing keywords down on a page.

  2. David Greenway avatar

    @pauljacobson @MissStaceyVee Thank you both for this! I’m miserable as F$%^ not writing anymore. Will endeavour to rectify this immediately

  3. Paul Jacobson avatar

    But @davegreenway, you have an awesome blog that still has that “new blog” smell! You should take it for a drive. @MissStaceyVee

  4. Snap: missstaceyvee avatar

    @pauljacobson @davegreenway That “new blog” smell – I just snort-laughed into my mug of tea.

  5. Tara avatar




  6. Paul avatar

    Writer’s remorse is a horrible, sickening feeling. It’s usually accompanied by the thought (or words), “I probably shouldn’t have told you that!”.
    There are days, weeks even, when stuff happens and my first impulse is to start writing about it and sharing it with BIG BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS because, as we all know, that Makes It All Alright. Actually, it rarely does, but it seems like the Right Thing To Do at the time.
    I’ve written about why writing is so important to me (quite a lot) and when I have one of Those Days, writing is one of the few outlets that work for me. I’m not the only person who resorts to words in challenging times. Take this advice by Chuck Palahniuk, for example:

    Write about the issues that really upset you. Those are the only things worth writing about.CHUCK PALAHNIUK pic.twitter.com/uQgYPEjf8g
    — Jon Winokur (@AdviceToWriters) July 13, 2016

    The challenge in times such as these is how to express yourself constructively. By “constructively”, I mean not in a way that wrecks your career, relationships or results in the sort of outcome you know you will regret later.
    Flying off the proverbial handle and publishing your most visceral thoughts on the public Web may seem like the right response to a difficult situation, at the time. Unfortunately, it is also often conducive to that profound regret and shame you may feel the morning after a questionable encounter in a dimly lit bar.
    In times like these it is usually wise to follow suggestions that you not click the “Publish” button right away. Even if publishing immediately seems utterly necessary and delaying means not having the desired impact.
    Just don’t publish yet. Give the fog time to dissipate, give yourself time to process it all. Then edit and publish (if it is still relevant).

    I write to find what I have to say. I edit to figure out how to say it right.CHERYL STRAYED#amwriting #writing pic.twitter.com/c14s6XWpZG
    — Jon Winokur (@AdviceToWriters) July 13, 2016

    There are times when that expression of rage or profound disappointment needs to be expressed. Other times, it’s ok to relegate your verbal fury to your growing folder of post drafts to gather digital dust.

    The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly https://t.co/rV8cng4RGm
    — Beverley Merriman (@bevmerriman) July 17, 2016

    Some days, just the process of taking those thoughts and feelings and expressing them are enough. Publication isn’t always the answer, as easy as it is to do it.
    Today is one of Those Days for me and the one piece of advice that bubbles up from the recesses of my foggy mind is this: Don’t be bitter, be better.
    I’m going to publish this one, though.
    Image credit: Pixabay
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