|Photo credit: Chris Blakeley on Flickr|
A little over a year ago, I hit a bump in my writing —a few bumps, actually. You see, I’d just sent out a flurry of query letters for my most recent WIP at the time after rewriting it (again), and I needed a distraction. I was ready to start a new novel.
Except I didn’t have any ideas. Nada.
I wracked my brain for possibilities until I finally landed on a decent idea. I was relieved—for a second there I worried I might not ever think of a good idea again—until I tried to write it. The voice was wrong, the character was wrong, the idea was wrong. It was a terrible idea. I needed something better.
So I tried again. And failed again. And I began to panic.
In my mind, I didn’t have an excuse for not being able to write—I wasn’t in the middle of some huge life change, I didn’t have any more stress than usual and I was perfectly healthy. Happy even, if you discounted the not-being-able-to-write-thing. And yet despite that, the desperate ideas I came up with were crap. I could barely write a few pages, let alone an entire novel.
I decided to give it some time. It’s just a phase, I thought.
Six months later, the “phase” hadn’t ended. I felt guilty calling myself a writer—after all, I hadn’t written a thing in six months. When my family asked how my writing was going, I mumbled some sort of nondescript answer and changed the subject.
I really started to wonder if maybe I wasn’t cut out for the whole writing thing, after all.
But then I imagined another six months without writing. I asked myself how I would feel if I never wrote another novel again. I thought about my characters, about the worlds I’d created, the stories that, although unpublished, still entertained my family and friends.
Could I go the rest of my life without that?
I’m not going to be overdramatic. It was certainly physically possible for me to move on. I just didn’t want to.
So I didn’t. I sat down at my computer and I wrote again. It wasn’t necessarily the best novel idea I’d ever had, but it was something. It was proof. I’m a writer.
The point of this story though, isn’t to prove to you that I’m a writer. The point is to answer the question of the title: can you lose your ability to write?
The answer guys, is no. You can’t forget how to write any more than you can forget how to ride a bicycle. Truth is, if you have the will to write, if you have the determination to follow your dreams and make them come true, then the ability on some level is there. Your skills might need some refining, but you don’t need to be a master of your craft to write a story.
All you need is will.
Do you want to write? Then go do it. It’s really that simple.
Don’t have the time? Make time. No one else is going to do it for you.
Don’t have the talent? Talent is overrated. You don’t need talent; you need practice.
Don’t have novel ideas? Then write something else—poetry, blog posts, stream of consciousness—it doesn’t matter. Writing is writing and you’ll benefit from it either way.
If you really want to write, if you really want to see your dreams come true, you have to go out there and do it yourself. Fulfilled dreams don’t just land on some lucky person’s lap—they’re chased down and snatched up by the ones who aren’t afraid to put in the extra work and won’t stop until they see them realized.
Is that person you?
Have you ever encountered a non-writing period? How long did it last? How did you break out of it?