rebelling against low expectations

Three Truths for the Writer with Nothing to Say

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Am I really a writer if I’m not writing?

Another line marked, another due date on my calendar, but I was coming up empty. My fingers danced in the air above my keyboard without landing. I was a writer who couldn’t write.

It wasn’t just that I had no ideas or no motivation. It wasn’t only the fears, doubts, and what-ifs. I was empty. I had nothing to say. During a decade of blogging, I’ve gotten good at churning out content when I don’t feel like it. I can put something together and I’ve learned what people like.

But every now and then, I hit a point where I have nothing to give.

Maybe this is you. Maybe health challenges have derailed your plans. Maybe the loss of a friendship is stealing away your natural curiosity. Maybe the death of a family member has left you rocking through waves of recurring grief. Maybe school has zapped every ounce of your mental energy.

If so, I’m here to look you in the eyes, slide over a cup of peppermint tea, and tell you that you’re not alone. You will be okay, and your writing will be okay.

Serving through writing is a complex task. Writing doesn’t fit neatly in a 9-5 box or one school period. Writing requires not only mental energy, but emotional, spiritual, relational, and physical energy. And sometimes, life demands that energy go elsewhere, like school, transitions, family, friends, and decisions.

Today, I want to share three truths that encourage me every time I feel like a writer with nothing to say.

1. Growing now will give you things to say later.

The non-writing seasons of my writing journey have been some of the most fruitful times for creating content. Why? Because writing is not separate from life. In my experience, there are two things that tend to leave us with nothing to write about:

A) Overwhelm

B) Lack of experience

We are finite, created with a limited amount of mental, emotional, and physical energy. When we spend it on relationships, decisions, school, and other responsibilities, it runs out. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, we can rejoice in the opportunity to rely on God.

When we’re overwhelmed, not writing will give us the ability to write later.

We are also young. Writers cannot exist in a bubble. With no life experience, how are we to write realistic emotions? How do we become inspired? How do we understand others in different situations than ours?

When we lack experience, a season of not writing can provide time and space to grow as writers.

2. It’s okay to rest.

If you’re a writer who isn’t writing . . . are you really a writer? During a season of my life when I wasn’t writing, I had an identity crisis. If I wasn’t producing, was I an imposter?

As a culture, we can value productivity so highly that it feels wrong to take a breath. To be still and to rest. But Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:29-30 ESV).

Writer, you are allowed to rest. Rest is actually crucial for sustainable, long-term writing. Rest allows you to think deeply. It gives your heart space for growth and healing. When we rest, our minds continue to work on things, and we have more space to approach a topic from different angles.

Our electronics need to be turned on and off every now and then—why not us, too?

3. This dry season will end.

As Brett Harris often says in the Young Writers Workshop and Author Conservatory, there are seasons to a writer’s life. Some seasons are for lying dormant, enduring the winter. Some seasons are more about taking in the sunlight and water around us than producing content.

The thing about seasons is that they are always changing. For better or worse, seasons end. If you continue growing, if you take time to rest, if you explore the world with curiosity, eventually you’ll have something to say. It’s just how it works.

If God has indeed called you to be a writer, then eventually He will provide you with words to say. Words that are needed. Words that point to Him. Click To Tweet

God has given each of us—writer or not—something to offer the world. If God has indeed called you to be a writer, then eventually He will provide you with words to say. Words that are needed. Words that point to Him.

Let me leave you with a prayer.

Dear Jesus, would you hold my fellow writers close? Remind them of Your presence. Remind them of Your purpose for them and show them in Your Word what You desire for them. Remind them of their intrinsic worth not based on service, words, followers, or publications. Thank You for the gift of imitating You as creators. Thank You that even when we come up dry, You don’t. Please restore to us the joy of writing and the capacity to do it. We trust You with the plan for our lives and we trust You to care for those who read our writing. In Your name, amen.


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About the author

Sara Willoughby

is the 20-year-old author of He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness. She loves to read, write, and have adventures, be it off to Narnia one more time, wading through mud chasing the family dog, or playing a new board game with her two younger siblings. Sara is also a Lymie, TCK, and Bright Lights leader. You can find her at sgwilloughby.com

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rebelling against low expectations

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