Friday, June 4, 2021

Are You Still A Writer If You Aren’t Writing?

by A.C. Williams @ACW_Author

I wanted to be an author since before I knew where books came from. I dreamed of writing the next great novel series, and admittedly I still consider the ultimate mark of achievement to be overhearing strangers at a coffee shop discussing my stories. 


But to be a writer, you have to write. Right?


If you haven’t written anything of consequence for a while, can you still think of yourself as an author? Can you identify yourself as a creative person when you’re in a season that precludes creativity?


Over the years, I’ve told many aspiring authors that you can’t be a writer if you don’t write. And in one way of thinking, that’s absolutely true. I have encountered so many people who call themselves writers simply because they have a dream to write, but they never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to actually do it.


But what if you’re in survival mode? What if it’s all you can do to get up in the morning, let alone have the creative capacity to invent dialog for imaginary people to say to each other? What if all your strength and focus is invested in just putting one foot in front of the other? If you can’t prioritize writing right now, does that make you less of a storyteller?


Of course not. 


For those who have never written before, it’s important that they understand writing is a discipline and requires sacrifice and courage in the face of a career choice that many industries don’t consider valid employment. 


For those of us who have already made a lifestyle of telling stories, it’s equally important for us to understand the value of healthy boundaries and the importance of knowing when to step away. It’s also essential to understand that we shouldn’t define ourselves by our word count. 


I had big plans for 2020. Yes, you can laugh. Ambitious goals and exciting dreams got put on hold like everything else while I spent my time searching for toilet paper. No problem. Just a delay. 


So my plans for 2021 were even bigger. Want to guess what happened? Yeah, by February they'd all come crashing down, and I found myself in the midst of several ongoing crises with friends, family, and financial issues leftover from lockdown. 


You know what's really hard to do when you're in survival mode? Create. 


Telling stories, along with other creative pursuits, requires a vast amount of focus, concentration, emotional investment, and time. So when your day is eaten up with immediate, emergency priorities, being creative isn’t really an option. Have you ever tried to write with a ballpoint pen that’s run out of ink? That’s what it’s like to try to write something meaningful with no emotional reserves. 


It doesn’t work. 


And you know what? That’s okay. 


It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to step back. It’s okay if you didn’t hit your word count goals this month (or week, or day, whatever). And I know what some of you perfectionists are thinking (I am one). It’s not okay to waste time. It’s not okay to miss deadlines. It’s not okay to be a poor steward of the gift God has entrusted you with. 


Every creative person I know has a dream. I believe God gives us our big dreams, that He wires us specifically for them, so that through Him we can do what we’ve been designed to do while we bring Him glory. But those big impossible dreams can only be achieved by His power. Yes, apply yourself. Invest your time. Give your emotion and energy to it. But recognize that it’s not your strength that brings success, and it rarely ever happens according to your timeline. 


If you get so caught up in fulfilling your calling as a storyteller, you might miss an opportunity to bless someone God put in your path. You might walk right past a chance to learn something you need for the future. Or did you think that practical experience comes by special revelation?


Everyone experiences different seasons, and it’s important to embrace the season you’re in right now. Frankly, just because you want something doesn’t mean it's time for you to have it. You might not be ready yet.


Make plans, yes, but hold them with open hands. Be willing to be flexible. If you can’t prioritize writing in this season, pay attention to what’s happening around you. Listen. Watch. Learn. You could be living a story that needs to be written once you know how it ends. 


Above all else, don’t give up. Never, ever give up. Seasons don’t last forever, and simply because you have to change the way you do life temporarily doesn’t mean you’re permanently done with a dream that’s on-hold.


You’re still a writer, even when you’re in a creative drought. Return to it when you can. Trust God for the rest. 


Are You Still A Writer If You Aren’t Writing? - @ACW_Author on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @ACW_Author.


  1. Hugs A.C. You ARE a writer. :)
    Sometimes - or probably most times - God doesn't tell us when He is providing new material for us to write about. He knows we would kick & fuss too much if He told us.
    Hang in there!

  2. What makes us writers is the fact that we can't, not write. Even if we go through a season of not writing, sooner or later that pen will find its way back to our hand. Thank you for this.

  3. Great thought. Encouraging for me ‘cause I’m there. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for this assurance, A.C. Due to issues beyond my control, the recent past saw a change in all my writing plans. I had no energy to do anything except survive. It's nice to know that's okay. I like your perspective that these times will give us future stories to write. Blessings to your writing.