A friend asked me the other night if I ever experienced a certain kind of restlessness that plagued her. She described it as a “grass is greener” sort of restlessness where if she’s alone, she wishes she had company, and if she has company she wants to be alone.

I don’t have that kind of restlessness, no. What I have is Writing Restlessness, and, unless I make a concerted effort to tame my thoughts and emotions, it can ruin almost anything. Basically, any time I’m doing anything that isn’t writing, there is an undercurrent of “should be writing, should be writing, wish I was writing, want to write” that burbles and churns beneath the experience.

Whenever a friend asks me to take a weekend to come visit them, I think, “I’d love to do that but should be writing, could be writing, will miss precious writing time, won’t be able to write that week, will have to pay for childcare for something other than writing, writing, writing, writing.”

Whenever a friend says, “Let’s have dinner!” I think, “That’s an evening I won’t be writing, that’s an evening husband will be watching the child and I won’t be writing. Maybe I should say no so that I can write.”

Whenever I’m on vacation, I’m thinking, “These are days of no writing. An entire week that is lost from writing.”

Writing is a demanding thing, an addiction, a driving force.

I have to take a breath and say, “This moment with my daughter is more important than writing. Put it aside.” I have to carve out a space in my mind and say, “You love your friend dearly, you’ll visit her on this weekend, and writing will wait.” I must tell myself, “My marriage is important to me and these hours with my husband are vital for maintaining it. Writing will be patient.”

That’s a lie, by the way. Writing is never patient.

I, however, can be, but I have to work at it.

So, no, I don’t have a restlessness of wanting to be with people and wanting to be alone. I have a restlessness that is always writing, writing, writing rushing in my veins, pumping through my heart, stirring up my brain. It’s constant and it can undermine my ability to enjoy my daily life unless I am strong and demand more of myself.

I guess that’s part of working to become a better human being, too.

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3 thoughts on “Restless for Writing, or How Writing Ruins Everything #amwriting #beingawriter

  1. I wish I had your restlessness. I can go days – weeks, even – without writing. Sometimes it just takes my sluggish brain that long to figure out whatever story snag I’ve hit. And while, yeah, I do feel guilty about it, I never feel like the book won’t still be there when I’m ready to get back to it.

    I’d be a lot more prolific if I felt the way you do, though. Or if my old brain, which has apparently never recovered from the fog brought on by menopause, could get firing on all cylinders again.

  2. I have the restlessness for my writing, but I’m torn between obligations (cook dinner, wash laundry, etc.) and the need to write…unfortunately, my obligations win out (maybe I’m supposed to say “fortunately” there) but it leaves me feeling like I’m not getting anything done – because I’m not writing…

  3. I have a constant restlessness too–a compulsion to write. I neglect many things in favor of my writing, and I have certainly not perfected the balance between family/work obligations and my passion. However, I’ve known several people who exhibit no passion for any particular activity or avocation, no drive so strong that they feel it right through to their bones. I’ll take a passionate life, albeit unbalanced, over a content existence any day. Since I embraced the restlessness, I feel everything now; I see everything. It is often overwhelming and unsettling, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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