Writing Droughts: What I Learned While I Was Away

Writing droughts are never fun... the lack of writing, the lack of idea. But they offer opportunity to learn and grow as a writer, even if writing is like pulling teeth.

Hello friends. Have you ever noticed that things can get lost on the internet? I once lost an entire website to the bowls of the interwebs and to this day I have no idea what happened to it.

And if you’ve been wondering if my weekly blog posts and Friday email newsletters have been lost to the internet too, don’t worry. The posts and newsletters didn’t get lost.

But I did.

If you’re signed up for my email list or follow me on Instagram, you’ll have heard that I finished a novel in 2017. My third, titled The Leila Chronicles. It was a story I’d thought of and mulled over for almost a year before I sat down at the start of NaNoWriMo to write it. I finished it, by the skin of my teeth, and I’ve never felt higher on writing. It was the pinnacle of all the writing I’d done in 2017. I could never have written it without the work of a year of constantly writing things that challenged me.

But then… I didn’t really write at all in December. I edited a few projects, tossed a few hundred words at a work-in-progress short story, and found myself a bit confused.

It felt like I had arrived… I had finished my third novel, by far one of the best things I’ve ever written. I had surprised myself, I had proven to myself what I could do. The euphoria of finishing the novel brought with it several realizations of where I want this blog to go and the things I’d like to accomplish.

And yet, when I sat down to write, I couldn’t get the words out. Everything I wrote felt like pulling teeth… stiff, difficult, and downright painful. I had become paralyzed by my success.

And of course this dissonance showed up in other areas of my life: I ceased my weekly blog posts, confused about what I wanted to write and how to bridge the gap. I stopped my Friday newsletters and I stopped writing several times a week.

I waffled through January, hemming, and hawing and wringing my hands as I ignored the call of TLWB and felt my heart tugging me back to my roots.

We writers and creators get our inspiration from a variety of sources: conversations on the bus, phrases in magazine articles, asking “what if?”, our own lives.

But we all start and end at the true writer within us. The ideas that stir us to write stir us because they connect with something deep inside us, some greater purpose that drives us to the page over and over again, when we’re in felicity or when we’re in agony.

Even without trying, we convey themes across our work, themes that show what’s most important to us whether we want them there or not.

The Leila Chronicles brought me to my knees because I unintentionally carried myself to the fulcrum of how I can do this thing that I love, every single day. It was a question I’d spent years asking myself and The Leila Chronicles gave me the answer.

And the answer was both profound and incredibly simple: just fucking do it.

I’d spent the year thinking I had to come up with a writing routine, I had to squeeze writing in every single day, I had to produce, produce, produce.

And while sometimes those things are true, they weren’t what was true for me in 2017.

What was true for me in 2017 and what I’m taking into all of my writing endeavors in 2018 are these:

  • Don’t overthink it
  • Don’t write alone
  • Ask for help or a second opinion
  • Never underestimate a good twenty minutes spent pacing in your spare room while you talk through a plot point with a friend
  • You never know what you can write until you write it… which means you have every idea available to you
  • Write what resonates. If it doesn’t, reevaluate. Go with what feels good.

I’m still not entirely certain where TLWB is going… I have ideas and I’d love to hear your feedback! I’m not entirely certain what I’ll accomplish this year or how I’ll accomplish it.

But for now, that’s ok. It’s ok to be in a drought, a winter of creativity. Just as we have spurts of productivity and achievement, we have weeks of hibernation where we can do little more than stare at the blankness of the page and dream of the days when 1000 words came easily.

The hibernation does not mean you’re lost. The hibernation is preparing you for the good things to come. You never know what year you’ll write the thing that changes your life.

Cheers friends. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter because I’ve got more goodies and news coming to your inboxes and TLWB over the next few weeks. See you here next week.



Alexis Truitt

2 comments

  1. Re your comment “It’s OK to be in a drought, a winter of creativity”–

    I certainly agree. What’s more, it brought to mind a comment from a wise mentor from my distant past. He said “Winter is a very misleading season. On the surface, one might conclude there is nothing productive occurring (no leaves, no obvious growth). However, Winter is the season when trees send roots deep into the soil to provide the nutrition for the times of more obvious growth.” Essentially, he was saying the apparent “droughts” of production are actually essential for future productive spurts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *