Lately, several friends and I have been commiserating with each other about our lack of production. We should be writing. Why aren’t we writing? Each of us relates a little pile of woe that is preventing us from writing. Each of us goes home and berates ourselves because life is short and we aren’t writing. We are exhausted by how much writing we are not doing.
Tonight, I’m going to light a candle, sacrifice a metaphoric goat, and let us all off the hook. That’s right all you dawdling poets, blocked novelists, gut-twisted short story writers, I’m releasing you. For the next few days, you don’t have to write. You can surf the internet, read the latest Stephen King novel, pull weeds in your garden. Go paddle-boarding, run for five miles, shop for school clothes. Listen to your kid tell you about her new teacher, buy groceries, do the laundry. Sit and stare at the grass grow.
You’ll write again. In a few days, there will be a niggling little image you want to get down. Or maybe you’ll read a poem and you’ll think, “I should write a ghazal.” But first, let yourself not write. Let yourself off the hook, because guilt will kill your desire to put words on paper as surely as salt will sterilize the soil.