I get very frustrated when I'm not able to write. Sometimes life is too busy. Other times, like recently, I'll carve out time to write, but then just kinda sit there. Everything I write feels flat or unoriginal. The voices of self-doubt are pounding louder than usual.
Right now I'm suffering from some creative burnout. My initial reaction was to be angry. I would growl at myself that I just needed to suck it up and keep going. And if I know in my heart that I'm just being lazy, this is an okay thing to do. But I'm not being lazy. I'm tired. Run down. Weary. Creatively dry. Whatever you want to call it.
It is okay to not be writing - that's what I'm having to remind myself. It is okay to need a vacation. It is okay to need a break. The best thing to do, the fastest way to get my creative muscles back in shape, is to take the time off that I need.
I don't know where you are at the moment. Maybe you're in that glorious place where writing feels fun, where your thoughts are always wandering to your storyworld, where the words are coming so quickly, you can hardly get them down. Good for you! (I made myself put that exclamation point there. In reality - please forgive me - I'm jealous and saying that through gritted teeth.)
Maybe you're like me, in the desert, and you need some space from your work. Take it. If you're honestly burned out and not just being lazy, take the time away and don't come back until you feel the pull back to your story, the longing to be with your characters. (Unless you're under contract. If you like your job, I don't recommend telling your editor that you won't be making your deadline due to a creative drought.)
Or maybe you're in that frustrating place where life is too full for writing. Where you can squeak in a blog post or maybe 100 words a day, but you've got 3 AP classes this semester, you're in the fall play, and you just started dating this great guy (or girl) and that's taking up a lot of time...
In those busy times, I encourage you to think of being in a "story gathering" season. You're spending time living and that will only strengthen your writing. As an example, these people take up a lot of my time:
But they are also my life. Aside from all the other wonderful things they are to me, they, in many ways, are the words on my page. I know that's a little cheesy, but it's honest. Even though they are the people who demand the most from me (especially those two little ones) they are also the ones who color my world, who help make my characters and their situations matter to me.
In my early drafts of Me, Just Different, 15-year-old Abbie Hoyt miscarried. During my third rewrite of that story, I was several months pregnant with McKenna. I could not make Abbie miscarry. It made me cry every stinking time I tried to write it that way.
In So Over It, when Amy Ross is sharing about a baby she lost when she was 20 weeks along in her pregnancy, I was 20 weeks pregnant with Connor. I bawled my way through that scene (and the research for it!)
If you're like me, it's very easy to get frustrated when writing time isn't happening. But even if you're not putting your pen to paper every day, if you're out there living, you're doing something for your writing.