2021 Pep Talk

Hi friends.

Usually when we begin the new year we start with a refreshed energy or at least some kind of positive attitude or spark. It’s harder right now to channel those feelings because time is so blurry. We said goodbye to last year, but the struggles of last year are still here. I can see all the wistful social media posts. No one is alone in this national exhaustion.

But guess what, bitches! We still have work to do. And I would like to help you do it.

I’m opening the comments to everyone on this letter so you can post specific questions or topics you want me to address. And I will try these winter months to write you letters that are constructive and worth your time.

I’ll post a longer letter this weekend, but just wanted to leave you with something that happened this weekend that I thought might be relevant:

I didn’t write for a few days. I just couldn’t. I felt all emptied out. I went for a long walk just so I didn’t have to pace my own floors anymore. Something will come out of this walk, I hoped, but all I could think about was why I wasn’t writing.

By the time I arrived home I realized that my only option was to explore that specifically — the why not. So I wrote into the not-writing. It turned out it was because I didn’t have all the information I needed about a specific topic, but I hadn’t seen that yet. I was spinning too hard on the fact that I wasn’t getting anything done. I took a step back. I called a friend I needed to interview about a specific moment in time. She remembered details I hadn’t. And then I stopped circling and dove into the scene.

“I am not writing because” could be a helpful way to start a sentence if you’re having trouble today.

By the way, I know for a lot of parents out there the answer to the question can be quite obvious these days: Because there are too many people in my house. Because I have to do two (or three) jobs now. Because I can’t find the quiet moments I need to listen to my brain. I hear you, and I send you love and support and the hope that someday you will have the time and space you need to be the fullest version of your writer self. That part of you isn’t going anywhere. It will always be waiting for you.

The writer self is waiting for all of us. Take that first step to clear the blocks. And let’s start writing.


You are reading Craft Talk, a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). Last week I donated to Nola Community Fridges.