What No One Tells You About Finding Time to Write
Writing Tips

What No One Tells You about Finding Time to Write

“Set a schedule; set reasonable goals!”

“Give yourself deadlines.”

“Protect your mental energy.”

“Cut down on pleasure reading, TV, social media, and just write!”

“Is writing a priority in your life? Make it one.”

So you can’t find time to write, and you read a dozen blog posts or even books that give some variant of the advice above. And so you push yourself harder and harder, set more deadlines, and then abrade yourself when you miss your artificial deadlines again. Then you read more blog posts and set new goals.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing: it is true. Set goals, protect your mental energy, make writing a priority. That’s what you need to do to find time to write.

But there is one exception. One major exception to that advice. One writer does not need to hear that advice.

The writers struggling with depression or anxiety or a bipolar disorder or OCD or PTSD or any other mental health illness does not need to hear that advice. And considering the remarkable number of writers who struggle with mental illness, it is shameful that no one takes the time to tell them, “It is okay to not write.”

Really, there is a reason for the depressed writer stereotype, so let’s address it. If you currently struggle with some type of mental health problem, this advice is for you.

I know you just want to write, write your novel, write your blog, reach people with your writing—I know, trust me, I know. I know the quiet, sad disappointment when you think about that untouched Word document. I know that heavy exhaustion when you wait for the timer click down for the next episode on Netflix as you think on that blog post that you didn’t write. I know that weighty longing when you think about all those emails from all those wonderful writer friends that you so desperately want to reply to. Yeah, I know you want to “find time to write.” Hey, I even know that you technically have plenty of time to write.

But here’s the thing: you need to give yourself permission not to write.

Right now, the last thing you need is more pressure. Yeah, yeah, you know. I know! But you need to take time and rest, focus on yourself, and—for heaven’s sake—give yourself time to think and feel once in a while! So repeat after me:

It is okay if I don’t write.

I don’t need to write right now.

I will write later—not now—and that is okay.

Look, maybe writing helps you. Aren’t I write a blog post right now? Yes. Yes, I sure am. But I did not plan to write this post. In fact, I told myself a couple weeks ago that I would not plan to write any more blog posts until I felt better. Am I going to start back on my posting schedule next week? Nope, and I’m not even going to tell myself or my followers that I am going to try. Because I am not going to try. I am going to rest.

So go ahead and write if it helps. But here are your rules for writing:

  1. Don’t set times to write
  2. Don’t tell yourself that you need to write
  3. Don’t work on your big projects: Don’t work on your novel, don’t write blog posts for your blog (I’m a hypocrite—I know, but I am working on it, okay?)
  4. Don’t set a deadline for this rest away from writing
  5. Write about what is on your mind
  6. Write what you love
  7. Write about what you are dealing with right now

Seriously, you don’t need to write. Listen to me loud and clear:

Dear depressed writers, you don’t need to find time to write.

God bless,


What No One Tells You About Finding Time to Write


15 thoughts on “What No One Tells You about Finding Time to Write”

  1. So true .. a guilt-athon never produces anything satisfying. Wasn’t it Shakespeare who wrote, “to thine own self be true, then it shall follow as the night the day, thou canst be false to any man”? And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘”come aside by yourselves and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going and they didn’t even have time to eat.” We are designed to need rest and care, and lots of it in certain life seasons . So rest, dearest Writer! You shall write again, in its season!! And, oh, how satisfying the fruit of it shall be!


  2. Last year, about half way through NaNoWriMo I started getting sick. Since I’d had pneumonia the year before at that time, I decided to quit NaNoWriMo since my health was more important. Maybe another year….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think this is some great advice here. When that bitter voice in the back of my head gets too loud (I hate that guy), the best thing to do is really walk away and take a break for a while. (I’m hooked on the Voltron: Legenday Defender series on Netflix! 😉 ) But, when you do come back to the story, you’ll read something and be like, “Wow, I forgot I wrote that. That’s pretty awesome!” and slowly but surely I know the rest of the story will get to that point too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Gabrielle,

    Love your article here – very unique, original, and encouraging. When I read “I am going to rest” – I immediately thought of of the Creation account in Genesis, and how God created for six days and rested on the seventh, and later He commanded the Israelites to rest on the Sabbath. I think that’s God’s way of telling His people (attention: this includes writers, too) that it’s okay and even strongly encouraged to take it easy once in a while; to just be still, rest, and regain our energy – physically, mentally, spiritually – before another busy day of writing and keeping up with everything in life.

    Hope you’re doing well! This is my way of letting you know that I’m still reading your blog and waiting for your name to pop up in my inbox.

    P.S. You do *not* need to write right now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you. Just – honestly, thank you, thank you so much. There are no words to describe how much I needed to hear this – you may have just saved the novel I started on 5 years ago and couldn’t find the time/energy to finish because of depression.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your thoughts here. Writing, or the lack of, easily becomes a constant guilt trip for me. If I treat my writing more like this, I might actually get something written.


  7. I just read this article and replaced the word “write” with “paint” and it’s still highly effective. A hard lesson to accept but one that I think is important to maturing ones creative expectations. Cheers. Tam


  8. Great post! This I think is one of the toughest things about writing, is learning how to work with/around your brain, especially when you have mental illness. (Everything has its unique challenges though… even working through with no mental illness but low self-esteem is SO HARD.) I have ADHD in addition to an array of other delightful stuff, which makes it SO difficult to concentrate, especially for extended periods of time. I’ve had to really find new ways to work just to get words down. I go to a writing conference every year where I hear “butt in chair, hands on keyboard” so much it makes me want to scream sometimes… not because it’s bad advice, but because it has this sort of undertone of, if you’re not published/successful/reaching your goals yet, it’s because you’re not putting in the work or you’re being lazy. And often that advice comes from writers who I know are working with their own mental illnesses (they even have panels most years on writing with mental illness!), so it makes me extra mad. 😀

    I love your bullet point ideas; one of the ones that’s worked most for me is definitely #3, not trying to work on big projects all the time. Especially when you’re getting back in after awhile of not writing, it’s so important to do some baby steps, like starting with a short story or two, tackling something you can FINISH and feel good and accomplished about. That can really help you get in the habit of writing regularly again, too. And I find it best to work on whatever comes to mind, rather than writing specifically to a call for stories or an open anthology or something; removing the pressure of wanting to make the thing perfect so you can submit it somewhere makes the writing of it a lot easier. At the end it might be very submission-worthy, but the pressure while writing it isn’t real helpful.

    I find it really helpful also just to read blog posts from other writers (like this one!) about how they work, because it keeps my brain THINKING about writing, even when I’m not actively writing, and it often ends up giving me ideas and gets me excited about working on something, whether it’s a story idea or a blog post or whatever. Heck, this comment is the longest thing I’ve written all week… I’ll take that as an accomplishment too! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is very good advise, no one should feel pressured into writing. I would add just a small thing, it might be obvious, but here goes. If people do feel they are depressed, please seek medical assistance, or phone, if you’re in Australia, Life Line. Love and light Karen


  10. Great post and nice to hear a non-condemning voice. Sometimes, I wonder if the people giving that advice actually have other jobs to pay the bills or children to care for (oh, to be back in my college days again… but with Amazon Kindle for self-publishing purposes).


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