How I fell out of love with writing

It’s been a while. Close to a year. So, where have I been? The simple answer is – I fell out of love with writing. The complex answer involves creative burnout and the two types of writing. Let’s start with the complex.

When I think of creative burnout, I think of The Oatmeal’s comic ‘Creativity is like breathing‘. Creativity needs a balance of exhaling and inhaling to survive. When you exhale too long, creativity dies. When you run out of breath, you feel creative burnout. You disappear, taking extended breaks with no sense of when you’ll return. I ran out of breath, so I stopped writing for LHS.

Images: by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal)

But if I weren’t writing here, how did I run out of breath? This comes down to the two types of writing.

The first is writing you do to be paid, writing as a craft. This writing requires technical skill, the knowledge of your craft and endless practice. It means deadlines and client expectations. It means that you’ll have to set your ego aside to give the person at the heart of your work exactly what they want. It can be entirely fulfilling because your craft is being valued. But it’s also writing that requires you to breathe out. I was fortunate enough to find full-time work as a writer. I’m fortunate enough to still have this work in 2020. This is where I’ve been exhaling most of my creative energy.

The second is the writing you do for yourself, writing as a passion. This writing also requires your creative energy. It asks you to share pieces of yourself with your readers in the hopes your stories resonate. In the hopes you start discussions or change ideas. It’s the kind of creativity that famous artists from all disciplines find hard to create, but it’s also the kind of writing you fall in love with. Done well, it’s the writing that allows you to breathe in.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

With all this in mind, we can return to the simple answer. Since starting this site, I fell out of love with writing. I started this site as a portfolio for potential freelance gigs. I turned to the kinds of content I’d written before, articles on lifestyle and travel, and my experience in content marketing for businesses. I love writing for my job, creating content that is powerful for businesses. But it’s hard to do it both for my current job and this site. This doesn’t mean that I’m unavailable for freelance projects, but it does mean my availability is limited. If it’s not a paid job, I’m better off focusing on the second type of writing – the passion that lets me breathe in. You may notice a change in the style of content on this blog, I hope it resonates with you. For the near future, I’ll be writing whatever it is that brings me joy, whenever the creative lightning strikes.

Why share this story at all? Because I intend to come back with a new style of content and want to contextualise the change. Because I’m focused on practicing honesty and vulnerability in 2020. But mostly, because in my experience of creative people, we are hardest on ourselves. We should be working faster, producing more meaningful work or finding the time to do it all. Perhaps sharing this story will remind other creatives that breaks are important, they don’t last forever and you can come back whenever you’re ready to fall back in love.