I'm not going to sugarcoat it, or beat around the bush. I've had a lot of trouble writing lately. For at least four months, I hardly wrote a word. I was preoccupied with a demanding school year and unmotivated by a lack of inspiration and a rough patch in my health. I couldn't work on my newest story. My usual tactic of making myself write, even if I don't like the way it's being written, just wasn't working; I couldn't even construct the most basic rough draft.
What I found I could do, though, was write poetry. At first, it made me feel productive. It even made me happy sometimes. I was writing, and that was something. After a while, though, I started to feel guilty. Why couldn't I write a book? Surely I just wasn't putting in enough effort. I didn't have enough skill. What I was doing with poetry stopped being productive enough for me.
That was the professional author in me talking. That was the part of me that makes writing a job, or a chore, instead of what it usually starts out as: a hobby. The was the part of me that has greatly known strict deadlines and large word counts.
The part of me that writes because I love to create stories had to snap me out of my thinking. I'm still a teenager. I don't have to write a certain type of literature to pay bills; the only reason I have to write is because it makes me happy. If that means I take a few months to write poetry, or blog posts, or short stories, so be it. If I can write a novel, that's fine too. If writing is causing me a lot of harm, though, it's okay to take a step back and return when I'm in a better place. I couldn't come to terms with this, and spent the time away from creating characters full of unnecessary shame and guilt.
For the last few weeks, I have been writing more. It started as writing 300 words one day; it was hardly anything, but it made me excited. Then I began writing more each day, and some days I even reach the daily word counts that I used to strive for. I feel joy at any progress in my story, whether it's a paragraph, and page, or a chapter. That joy is why I started writing, and I'm thrilled to have it back. I also know, though, that it's okay if I'm not spending every spare moment working on a novel. It's alright if my schedule has changed since I wrote my first two books, and I need to change how and when I write because of it. What matters is writing because it makes me smile, not because I feel it's an obligation.