If a Writer isn’t Writing but is Instead Writing About Their Non-Writing is it Still Writing?

Well…yeah. It is.

Boom. There you go. Blog post done.

Kidding. Of course I’m kidding. But it does raise the question, right? When is a writer a writer? Are we still writers when we’re conducting research? Formulating outlines? Staring blankly into the abyss of our own imaginations in the ever-encompassing, never-ending pursuit of creative genius?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Don’t even get me started on when we consider ourselves, “authors” vs. “writers” (if you even make that distinction.) That doozy is probably best tackled in another post.

All of this is to say that even when we’re not actively putting words down on the page, hell even when we’re not thinking about writing, inevitably it becomes part of our work. The observations you make about that crisp, fall weather change. The annoying interaction with the barista you have every morning while picking up your coffee. That childhood experience when you thought you could build your own zipline in the backyard, and subsequently broke your arm.

All instances of pure content gold, that when mixed into the overall plot of your story and development of your characters, lends itself to a more authentic, genuine experience not only in your writing but in your readers as well. The expedition to summit the mountain of authenticity is a challenge I take on every time I sit down to write.

My main point that I set out to make with this ramble is that you’re never not writing. I recently submitted the copy edits on my debut novel THE INSTRUCTOR, (out everywhere 4/11/23). Shortly thereafter, I finished an in-depth edit on my sequel, THE INFILTRATOR, getting that manuscript to a point it was ready to be given to beta readers. The marketing and publicity push for the April release isn’t set to begin for another few weeks or so.

After dropping off my beta reader copies, I found myself in a position with…little writing to do. Blog post, yes. Research for book #3, sure. Dabble with some short stories, maybe. But no solid commitments. No absolute deadlines. No word count to hit, chapters to revise, plot holes to banish into the seventh level of hell where they belong.

This is not to say that all of those things won’t start up again soon. I guess what I’m trying to get to is…take it easy on yourself. Intake is just as critical to writing as output. Catching up on Netflix counts as writing. Taking a hike in the mountains to see the foliage change. Writing. Sleeping in on Sunday and then reading the rest of the day while rain taps against the window. Most definitely writing. (Yes, you read that right. I said reading counts as writing.)

Because this is not a singular pursuit. We can’t write in an absolute vacuum. We need to interact and experience the world around us, so as to better form the worlds in our minds.

Disclaimer – I’m not saying go into work tomorrow and quit your full time job in favor of binge watching streaming services because Tim said that makes you a writer. Nor am I suggesting that deciding to reupholster an 18th century armchair months on end for a single sentence a secondary character utters in passing is the level of dedication you need to go to in perfecting your craft.

What I am saying is that you should find that balance between observation and creativity. Between input and output. That’s what has been key for me. There are times you need to knuckle down and grind it out. Other times where it’s okay to take a breather and recover. It’s all part of the process. All part of what will make your writing unique to you and your readers.

So…in conclusion. Go easy on yourself. Recognize that you’re a writer through and through, no matter what you happen to be engaged in at the moment. If that so happens to be the latest series on Hulu, then go ahead. Watch another episode.

Then get back to work.

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