Writing Apathy is a real and serious write-threatening condition. It can swoop down on the unsuspecting with its massive productivity-stealing claws at the first indication of a compromised work ethic. You may have been on a writing schedule consisting of 4,000+ words-a-day, only to suddenly find yourself staring at a blank screen while drool collects at the left corner of your mouth.
And you don’t care.
Don’t delay — recognizing the signs of writing apathy can be the first step to getting help.
Neglect of duties: This is the most obvious sign of the disease, since your writing output either drops dramatically, or completely ceases. You might skip your usual writing routine one day because you’re too busy, or just need a break. One afternoon then turns into two. A week passes. Fast forward three weeks, and you’re sitting on the couch watching re-runs of Party of Five while eating fistfuls of Berry-Bad-For-You cereal instead of pounding out words. Writing — something you used to make time for — has now taken a back seat to teen dramadies.
Lying: A writer suffering from writing apathy tends to cover up their illness. They may lie to loved ones or critique partners about their word counts (zero), hours spent on writing (zero), or with continued promises that a project is “being tweaked” (it’s not). They may also lie to themselves, believing that “thinking” about their writing equates to actual writing time. One must consider how much productive thinking can possibly take place when one’s mind is clouded with angst-filled, be-dimpled orphans. (See Party of Five reference above.)
Lawbreaking: Often, someone in the midst of writing apathy will start to take unintelligent risks, which almost always leads to getting in trouble with the laws of writing. During their now-rare writing moments, the writer may find themselves telling instead of showing, or hiding behind a forest of adverbs. In extreme moments, they may send off a query for an unfinished manuscript “just to see.” Such deviances may result in public flogging via Query Shark, or even jail time. Worse, the writer now has a permanent record for bad writing choices.
Personality Changes: A writer may start avoiding places they used to frequent, including: Twitter lit chats, writing groups, open mike night at their old roommate’s garage, and any place where the word “symbolizes” is uttered more than ten times in an hour. They may become angry if someone mentions J.K. Rowling’s days spent writing in a coffee shop (“She was addicted to cranberry scones, people!”), and declare the success of The Hunger Games as a manufactured fluke. They may also appear well-rested.
Tolerance: After awhile, a person experiencing writing apathy will find that their tolerance for not-writing goes up. They may no longer feel guilty twinges or subtle enthusiasm regarding their works-in-progress. They’ll stop counting the days since they last wrote. They may decide to take up curling.
~Demonstrating any or all of these signs is a good indication that you have writing apathy. However, don’t despair. There IS help available for those who seek it.
On Tap for Get Inspired Monday — Curing Your Writing Apathy
*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving