Have you lost your love of writing? Or reading?

By Carol / February 21, 2022 /

I know when I lost my urge to write. Or at least to write positively. It was shortly after Donald Trump was elected President. All my efforts to blog came out angry or flat or angry and flat at the same time. I tried to write, but within a year, my desire to write had completely waned. As a result, my blog has lain fallow since November 2018. Even when I had positive stories to share.

An opinion piece by Tish Harrison Warren in the New York Times offered useful perspective.

Warren had suffered several personal losses – her father’s death, a miscarriage, another difficult pregnancy, and another miscarriage – and then found she couldn’t read either.

She couldn’t concentrate on what she read. She couldn’t remember what she’d read. Everything she read felt meaningless. Her inability to read caused her to question her ability to write, since the two are tied so closely. Her experience with reading mirrored the way I felt about writing.

Intense grief or stress takes energy

In conversations with friends and her therapist, Warren learned that her experience was not unusual. After a death. After failed relationships. After difficult surgery. In times of intense grief or stress, our brains expend energy elsewhere. Then, reading or writing may just be too much.

How can reading just be too hard for a book lover?

As I look back on my life, I observe that my writing follows my mood. I always wrote productively for clients. I didn’t have any choice. But writing my own feelings depended completely on how well things were going in my life. The past few years have given me plenty to feel anxious or depressed about. Racial injustice. Covid pandemic. The insurrection.

Many people write their way out of the tough times. I write less. But, I’ve never been through a drought like the last several years, and I have missed writing. However, I couldn’t get up the energy or the ideas.

Hope, time, perspective

It gave Warren hope to know she wasn’t alone. Her return to reading took time, but she came through.

It helped Warren, and it helps me, to gain perspective. To recognize this too shall pass. Of late, I’ve felt myself calming down and opening up. Travel is always a thought starter for me, and a trip this past month really helped. Over the past weeks, I’ve thought – twice! – about something I’d like to blog on.

So, I’m tentatively stepping back into the writing world. Stay tuned!

Have you lost the love of writing or reading? What helped you?

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  1. Joy Neal Kidney on February 23, 2022 at 5:03 am

    Fibromyalgia. I hadn’t lost the will to write, but the brain fog meant that I couldn’t concentrate. I’m so thankful that it’s lifted, although the pain and exhaustion shows up about every 3-4 hours. Naps calm that down again, but I just completed the first draft of my third book! Amazed and humbled.

    • Carol on February 23, 2022 at 10:42 am

      Pain is truly exhausting. I’m grateful for you that the brain fog has lifted, at least, Joy.

      Congratulations on a third book! That’s fantastic. I’m curious if having the book to work on helped you look past or manage the pain?

  2. Paulette on February 23, 2022 at 6:43 am

    Good to see this. The last couple years have been hard.

    • Carol on February 23, 2022 at 10:38 am

      Indeed. California has experienced even more trials with drought and fires.

      I can already see that re-connecting with friends through these posts is encouraging me to continue. I’m glad that you’ve continued to write and publish.

  3. Karen on February 23, 2022 at 7:56 am

    I’m so glad to see you’re finding your way back to writing!

    I, too, can relate with the difficulties in keeping a productive writing practice going over the past several years. And my little writing group has all but fallen apart since the pandemic.

    I designate you the first daffodil of spring, and hope to see more blooms in the months to come.

    • Carol on February 23, 2022 at 10:34 am

      Karen, you couldn’t have said anything nicer than to designate me the first daffodil of spring. I’m ready for spring, as I expect you are. We have a few cold days to survive, but warm days are in sight.

      It feels good to be back at the keyboard – and to learn that my friends are still out there. I hope you are able to revive your writing group and your writing practice, too. Spring is often inspiring.

  4. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on February 23, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Welcome back, Carol, I’ve missed you! I have not experienced what you describe and I hope I never will. I do have a relative who lost her concentration and couldn’t read much after a mastectomy. That is terrible for those of us to whom reading is almost like breathing! I look forward to more of your creative blog writing!

    • Carol on February 25, 2022 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks, Elfrieda. Serious medical situations such as your relative experienced are apparently a trigger for many. We need all of our energy in a different way than reading. I actually read quite a lot over these [ast years, as a member of two book clubs, but the joy wasn’t there. I’m so glad it’s back.

  5. Nan Johnson on February 23, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Carol, I lost interest in writing about the same time and for the same reasons. Stirred up inside me was a lot of frustration and I felt paralyzed by it. I brushed away questions about my next novel with the lame answer “oh, it’s coming along,” but it wasn’t. In 2018, I was walking on a hiking trail that took me past a not-for-profit tree nursery whose overriding mission is to increase tree canopy in low-income urban areas and help with reforestation after natural disasters. I have been volunteering there ever since. We pot seedlings in the spring; care for them in the summer; fill orders for free trees in the fall; pack the remaining potted trees in a hoop house for the winter, and then sharpen tools and clean up the grounds until we start all over again. I come home dirty and exhausted, and I love every single minute. It has been my form of protest, my way of fighting back; it has helped my spirit heal, too. I was so happy to see your blog post! I hope your step back into the writing world continues to feel right.

    • Carol on February 25, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      Nan, you found a beautiful way to bring purpose and healing into your life. I read Richard Powers’ The Overstory this past month. What an amazing book about how important trees are to our lives and how interconnected we must be to survive. A message for our times!

      We will see where writing leads me. No specific goal at the moment, other than continuing to write. I hope you’re interest returns, too.

  6. Janet Givens on February 24, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks so much for this Carol. It’s always nice to learn we are not alone. I first noticed my inability to read, to finish any book I began. At first I blamed it on the book; then I realized I was the common denominator. My hypothesis was that I couldn’t afford to be transported away, I was needed to stay alert, here, in the present. Sometime within the past year I realized I not only hadn’t blogged in awhile, I no longer had a desire to. I don’t plan to give it up, I’ll pay for my hosting site when it comes due in May. In that small way, I keep hope alive. But, while I’ve not been blogging, I have been writhing — rewriting more like it. But it’s been more like writing a term paper. Last year I led a small online conversation group around my LEAPFROG book (How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era). It seemed the least I could do. Out of those ten months came an updated book, now being formatted and soon to be released. I feel good about that, but it’s not the same as blogging. Blogging is personal, it can create a sense of vulnerability. Perhaps that’s more the reason I’ve withdrawn. Who wants to add to this inherent sense of vulnerability? Again, I’m so glad you started this conversation.

    • Carol on February 25, 2022 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings, Janet. You’re right, blogging is personal and makes us vulnerable. We all have had to find ways to be engaged and find a sense of purpose in this strange world. Your online conversation on civil conversation sounds perfect. Perhaps your desire to blog will return; I’m glad you kept the door open.

  7. […] reading my post on struggling to read and write, my friend Jean Balser shared her book review column Book Notes […]

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