On Not Writing

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? In my mind, I’ve written this post a hundred times. In reality, I’ve written it four times, trying to figure out where to begin, what to say to fill the space that has elapsed since I last wrote. It was never my intention to let the blog float silently...

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

In my mind, I’ve written this post a hundred times. In reality, I’ve written it four times, trying to figure out where to begin, what to say to fill the space that has elapsed since I last wrote. It was never my intention to let the blog float silently for as long as it has, but the irony of writing a travel blog is that they’re nearly impossible to maintain and keep timely when one is actually traveling, and I found that being stationary posed its own set of challenges. In my first draft of this post, my enumeration of all the reasons I haven’t updated the site these past six weeks spanned well over a page and it all felt a bit “the lady doth protest too much.”

I took a good hard look at what I had written and—loathe though I am to admit this—immediately the following quote from Elizabeth Gilbert (groan!) popped into my head and I knew what I had to do:

Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.

Elizabeth Gilbert

So, the reason I haven’t written here lately is because:

  • I was uninspired.
  • I was sad.
  • I was scared.
  • I was tired.
  • I didn’t want to.

On Being Uninspired

Life in Rochester eventually became routine and quotidian, and rather than giving me the mental space and invigoration to write, I actually wound up finding it creatively lobotomizing. Life on the road poses its own set of challenges to the writing life (which I’ll address below), but I’ve definitely found that being out of my element in foreign, unfamiliar places tends to provide a free flow of inspiration that I just can’t as readily tap into when I’m somewhere that I find, for lack of a better word, mundane. (This isn’t a direct slam at Rochester, by the way. I struggled with the same issue in Toronto, too!)

On Being Sad

Our days in Rochester morphed into carbon copies of one another, each one seamlessly sliding into the next. Time passed, but it felt like we were stalled out, working on projects, socking away money, but also spinning our wheels. I half-joked to Tony that we were putting the word “rut” back into “routine”. At times, I felt like nothing would give or change, and as a result, I just didn’t relish reliving past travel adventures. In contrast with our present circumstances, our previous adventures just caused a keen pain to course through me. For a while, these feelings got so bad that I stopped reading other travelers’ blogs too, because I just couldn’t deal with seeing other people living adventures we should have been having, instead of being stuck in Minnesota and its never-ending winter. I started to resent travel because I couldn’t have it in my life at the moment, which wasn’t a great writing mindset. Yes, we chose to spend that time in Rochester and there were many benefits to us doing so, but I missed being on the move and it was so very cold!

On Being Scared & Tired

For so long, we felt like we were frozen in place, and in some ways, we embraced it. There is an immense amount of comfort to be found in being in familiar surroundings, in not being challenged in your day-to-day life, in knowing what every day will have in store. Yes, it’s boring, but it’s got this anesthetizing quality as well where I kind of stop feeling much of anything, either good or bad. When we eventually made the decision that we could not live in limbo forever, that we needed to once more move forward with our plans to, well, move forward, it felt like life agreed and started to move at double speed. Days melted away and we were soon staring down the barrel of our road trip to Mexico. After months of living with the security of the rent-free parental safety net, it was really scary and hard to push ourselves out of the nest and into the unknown once more. Sometimes my anxiety and fear were paralyzing, and the rest of the time we were too busy trying to get it together enough so that we could leave like deep down we knew we wanted to. I was so scared that we weren’t ready, that we would fail; but I also knew that the life we were meant to be living was out there waiting for us, and so we pushed through the fear and hit the road.

(At this point, I was so exhausted from the worrying and the planning and the seemingly insurmountable pile of things that needed to get done, that what I really wanted most of all was to get into bed, pull the covers over my head, and never get out again. It pretty much took everything I had to make it through each day and function normally that I definitely didn’t have the capacity to write anything.)

On Not Wanting to Write

What all this really boils down to is that I didn’t write either because I couldn’t or because I just didn’t want to. I’ve never wanted my writing here to feel like a chore rather than a source of joy, and whenever I’ve sat down to say something the last six weeks, I’ve felt a mute frustration or vaguely existential apathy towards the site. Figuring that sometimes it’s good to give ourselves breaks, I gave myself a reprieve, assuming/hoping/praying that my words would find me when I was ready for them and actually had something I wanted or needed to say.

On Being Tired (Again!)

I suspected that my words and I would reunite once I was traveling again, and indeed, as we chewed up the miles, leaving Rochester and its sub-zero temperatures in our review mirror, I felt something soften within me and they began to flood my mind, like a dam finally breaking. But, after so much time being in one place, the transition to full-time nomads has definitely been a process. We had forgotten how tiring it is to cover hundreds of miles in a day, racing from one stunning attraction to the next, finding a new bed to sleep in every night and packing our bags every morning. And, of course, this time we get to juggle caring for the dogs with all of that too. So, I finally got my words back, only to find I was too busy and too tired to make use of them.

But! We’re in Mexico now. Surprise? Surprise! We have been here for one week, the first part of which we spent in the car driving to San Blas (where we currently are), and the rest of it has been spent getting our bearings, acclimating to the realities of our new life, and eating as many tacos as we can fit in our bellies. We’ve been taking things easy and going slow (except when it comes to the tacos…), letting ourselves adjust to this change at our own pace. We’re still learning the ropes and getting a handle on Mexico, but certainly one of the gifts it’s already given me is that, finally, the time feels right to start writing here again. We have so many stories to tell you guys—both old ones (like our amazing, magical road trip through the U.S.) and new ones (featuring puppies and playas and all the Mexican food!)—and I am legitimately excited to start doing that again.

So, thanks for your patience, for sticking with us as we’ve left you hanging, and for being a part of our journey. Many stories and photos to come… 20YH lives on!

Popular in: Musings

46 comments Leave a comment

  1. I, for one, am glad you found your way back. I knew you would. I totally get the feeling sad; the not wanting to think about travel, about resenting it, and about not reading anyone else’s adventures (20YH is one of the very few that make it through my feed at this point). It’s all part of the process, isn’t it? Making choices, living with them, moving through them, letting them evolve. I’m excited to hear about Mexico and all the tacos! Buen vieje!

    Mar. 23 2015 @ 2:37 pm
    1. Gillian author

      Aw, thanks for your kind words, Gillian! I know you totally get where I am coming from, and it means a lot that 20YH is still on your reading list. I just did a big purge of my feed reader the other day and it felt SO GOOD. As you say, though, this is all part of the process and the best I can do is honor it as honestly as I can! I have missed the support of the community that I have felt part of these past few years, so it is nice to be back; it’s easier getting through this stuff together!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 12:58 pm
  2. Welcome back! I can definitely relate. I am in a similar place with my writing, hence why my last post was over 2 weeks ago…or is it 3? Enjoy your honeymoon period with the travels 😉

    Mar. 23 2015 @ 3:22 pm
    1. Carmel Montgomery author

      Ha ha! I always find that the honeymoon period doesn’t kick in until about three months in, so we are still getting there. Despite having done this before, it honestly feels as tough and intimidating as the first time. New challenges, certainly, but sone old ones too and they are all just as tough as before. We will get there, I know, but it will just take time!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:00 pm
  3. I can totally relate to the “just don’t want to” reason for not writing. I’m glad your Muse has returned, though!

    Mar. 23 2015 @ 3:55 pm
    1. Katrina author

      Yes, writing sans muse is the worst! I am glad I am not fighting to find my words anymore and are just letting them find me. It was actually really liberating to admit I hadn’t written because I just didn’t want to. Sometimes that is enough (though it feels like we rarely accept that!).

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:02 pm
  4. Woot woot!

    Mar. 23 2015 @ 5:52 pm
    1. Sally author


      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:02 pm
  5. Welcome back! Looking forwad to reading some new posts about Mexico soon 🙂

    Mar. 23 2015 @ 7:13 pm
    1. Katie author

      Thanks! Hope to have something up later this week about San Blas!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:03 pm
  6. It’s so great to hear from you again! It sounds like you’ve had a difficult time but I’m glad things seem to be on the up again; looking forward to hearing more about your time in Mexico and also how you’re finding it travelling with the hounds in tow 🙂

    Mar. 24 2015 @ 6:07 am
    1. Amy author

      Things certainly weren’t all bad in Minnesota–it was great to spend time with Tony’s family and it was VERY relaxing–but I just didn’t have much desire to write then. I find I can more easily be my best self when traveling, even with the challenges that accompany it, and I think that translates to my writing too. I am really happy we are back out on the road, and look forward to sharing new adventures with y’all soon!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:06 pm
  7. So… I have definitely been thinking about you and wondering what’s been going on. I really should have just reached out, but I was expecting this kind of post in due time. Plus we were sort of in contact on instagram a bit so I knew you were still chugging along. I definitely get this feeling of sadness and not wanting to read other people’s blogs. And this transcends post-trip blues. It’s a separate emotion for me. I’ve been there, and I can relate, and while our feelings of course are never 100% identical, you’re not alone. I think the best thing to do is embrace those feelings and behave accordingly. If you feel best not reading other blogs, that’s what you need to do. I did this for the better part of last year after I got home from India.
    I’m really glad to see your words again my dear. x

    Mar. 24 2015 @ 12:01 pm
    1. Colleen Brynn author

      Please do reach out whenever you feel the urge! I so love hearing from you, and even though these tough spots are ones we must inevitably work through in our own ways, that doesn’t mean we have to do it alone!

      And it’s not that I hate all travel blogs now, it’s that the ones I find interesting and useful have really narrowed. I no longer have an interest in ones that just run you through a destination like a guidebook with pictures. I really only respond to the ones with real personal connections and narratives… The ones that speak of WHY someone is traveling, or how it is shaping them, rather than where to travel and what to do. I loved those latter ones when I hadn’t traveled and was planning our trip, but now they bore me! I am WAY BEHIND in my blog reading and commenting, but your site is definitely on the list of ones I find it a joy to read.

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:12 pm
  8. This is my first read on your blog, and do I love your style of writing. What an odd comment on a post titled ‘On Not Writing,’ but still! I have been through some of these challenges with my old blog and I can’t blame you one bit. When it’s not fun, why do it? But I am glad you’re back regardless!

    Mar. 24 2015 @ 12:18 pm
    1. Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine author

      Oh, thank you for your lively comment, Amanda. I really appreciate that you were sufficiently touched by my writing to take the time to let me know. The thought of blogging wasn’t fun for a while, hence why I took a break… I think by giving myself the time and space I needed, it allowed me to bounce back far better than if I had tried to force my way through it!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:15 pm
  9. I can appreciate the lack of creative input.. talk about a rut! Glad you escaped it but wow … you really raced down to San Blas. Glad you’re enjoying life on the beach in Mexico. Can’t wait for some new blog posts of your adventures!

    Mar. 24 2015 @ 4:16 pm
    1. Rhonda author

      Yeah, we really pushed hard to get to SB. Part of that was because we have the dogs and managed to get affordable lodging lined up… Now that we are here, however, we are definitely slowing waaaaaay down! 🙂

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:17 pm
  10. Welcome back – your stories were missed 🙂 Looking forward to many more!

    Mar. 24 2015 @ 10:20 pm
    1. Jenia author

      Thanks, Jenia. New stories to come later this week (I hope!).

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:19 pm
  11. Steve C

    Hi guys, been wondering what happened to you. I can understand burn-out after a couple years on the road.
    However, you are in Mexico now, the land of manana. Take your time and post when you feel like it. Yer not the only travel blog out there. For us traveling vicariously with you, time is irrelevant.

    Oh, San Blas! I’ve spent many of my trips in San Blas. Going south from California, it’s one of the first places that is truly tropical. In my younger years, I’d flee south to the beaches of San Blas every year (maybe 5 years in a row and many more in total) to bob in the surf at midnight to ring in the New Year. I have many fond memories of that little fishing village that nobody wants to go to because of the little no-see-ums. Just stay away from the beach at both dawn and dusk and you’ll be free of their little bites. There’s really nothing to do there, except just exist with a good book, and maybe a couple coco-locos. Have you had breakfast at McDonalds yet? Or are they still there? The last time I was there, it was off season in the summer. It was not a good time to be there. Too many Hahanies and mosquitoes. I think you missed it, but the best time to be there is around Christmas and San Blas Day. They really go all out with their celebrations.

    If you’re there more than a couple weeks, you’ll start meeting some of the x-pats that call San Blas home. They’ve got some very interesting stories. Some on the run, evading the CIA.

    Remember, slow travel is the best travel. You never know who you’ll meet there. Just say’n

    Have fun and leave a candle in the old church for me until I return.

    Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:36 am
    1. Steve C author

      “There’s really nothing to do there, except just exist with a good book, and maybe a couple coco-locos.”
      YES! That is exactly what we have been doing here and what has made it such a good first stop for us. Alas, the bugs have found me and the dogs (Tony less so) no matter the time of day, but I guess that is part of what allows SB to remain SB. Didn’t do breakfast at McDonald’s but it is still here… As is the old church. Will leave a candle for you on our next trip to the zócalo (so…tonight!).

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:24 pm
  12. I can relate – it’s hard to keep up that motivation when your daily routine is the same and the weather ‘blah’. And really, I think breaks can be a good thing so hopefully you didn’t let your absence hang over your head. I really hope you guys love Mexico! Will you be in San Blas for a good chunk or will you motor around?

    Mar. 25 2015 @ 5:40 am
    1. Emily author

      Yes, routines are a tightrope walk to be sure. Not enough of one and I get nothing done. But too much of one and I quickly spiral into rut territory and get very sluggish. The key, as always, is balance. I hope we can achieve it here on the road!

      Not staying in San Blas too terribly long: Just a week and then we move further south to La Peñita where we are basing ourselves for a whole month!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:27 pm
  13. Welcome back 🙂 I read somewhere that you should try and write every day even if you don’t feel like it, I sat there puzzled wondering why I would stare at a screen for a while and write some crap that would probably not make it into a post. Write when you’re inspired and more importantly, when you want to.

    Mar. 25 2015 @ 12:52 pm
    1. Maddie author

      I have read the same thing too, Maddie. I guess it depends on what kind of writing you are doing: if it is paying the bills, then yes, sometimes you must just get your butt in the chair and coax the words out. But if you are writing for pleasure/personal reasons, I see no need to force things if it really doesn’t feel right. I have occasionally written my way through writer’s block in the past, but this just wasn’t one of those times. I am glad I was able to recognize that and just take the time I needed!

      Mar. 25 2015 @ 1:32 pm
  14. So glad you are feeling inspired again but also, don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s OK to take breaks! Also, congratulations on reaching tacos!! I can truly say after the past 2 or so months of eating tacos daily. They NEVER GET OLD!

    Mar. 25 2015 @ 5:33 pm
    1. Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out author

      Absolutely it’s ok to take breaks. Especially if one is doing something that is creatively very challenging or demanding, it’s good to take time to recharge. And really, it seems like nothing motivates me more than tacos! We haven’t had them EVERY single day we have been here, but we’ve yet to have one that hasn’t been delicious!

      Mar. 26 2015 @ 1:26 pm
  15. Writing is like love… your heart has to be in it.

    Ok, cheesiness aside, it’s very true. Better to not write for the right reasons, than to write for the wrong ones. Take your time – I’ll always be happy to wait for your work 🙂

    Mar. 26 2015 @ 5:06 am
    1. Tim UrbanDuniya author

      Thanks, Tim! I’ll never be one of those bloggers who can bang out a bunch of posts in a single day, and I’ve also discovered that when I get stressed out and have a lot on my plate to deal with, writing is generally the first thing I cut from my life simply because I don’t have the time/energy to invest in it properly. I’m glad I took the time I did to focus on the things I felt I needed to rather than stressing out about updating the site. All I can do is my best, but when I do write, I certainly want it to be the best that it can!

      Mar. 26 2015 @ 1:27 pm
  16. I really enjoy reading your posts (both your travel ones and bookish ones) and don’t mind at all that there are breaks. It happens to all of us at some point and sometimes you just need breaks. But I do hope that you find your creativity again just because I know how much happiness it brings you. Enjoy your trip and looking forward to reading about it!

    Mar. 26 2015 @ 5:40 am
    1. Sakura author

      Day by day, my creativity returns with a vengeance! I am already juggling three different post ideas in my head that I want to write, so surely that is a good sign. I think my writing drought is over!

      Mar. 26 2015 @ 1:36 pm
  17. Love this! I am so happy we got to connect in person and that you have allowed me to live vicariously through you (though I may come on a little strong with trip planning advice!) I just love Mexico so much, and am so happy you are exploring with wheels! Whenever I hover over the ‘publish’ button, scared to send my thoughts into the world, I ask myself, “Is it true?” And if the answer is yes, I send it out. Glad you did too. Enjoy El Riviera Nayarit and for the love of all things holy, have a fresh oyster or six for me xxx

    Mar. 26 2015 @ 8:53 am
    1. Sarah Somewhere author

      Your trip planning advice (all of it!) was so helpful and very appreciated, so please don’t apologize for that! And your love for Mexico is really contagious and your own posts about it have certainly inspired and motivated me to visit as well, so thank you for sharing your own journey with all of us too. I have found that writing the truth is both the hardest and easiest way to write… whenever I do, it feels like everything falls into place, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing!

      Mar. 26 2015 @ 2:53 pm
  18. It’s good to see you back! Sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling sad. I hope that Mexico brings you everything you desire – I look forward to hearing all about it!

    Mar. 26 2015 @ 12:14 pm
    1. Jackie (Farm Lane Books) author

      Thanks, Jackie! Updates about Mexico will be coming soon; can’t wait to share our first impressions with you!

      Mar. 26 2015 @ 2:54 pm
  19. I’m still there now! I need to get out of the not-writing-because-I’ve-lost-momentum zone. Good on you for doing so!

    Mar. 26 2015 @ 10:17 pm
    1. Rachel author

      It’s definitely hard to break out of a not-writing rut, especially if you’ve let it drag on for more than a few weeks! At some point, you just have to accept you’ve let the blog lapse and get on with it! Once you start writing, it doesn’t take much to get back into the groove.

      Mar. 31 2015 @ 12:39 pm
  20. It’s good to hear from you again! 🙂
    I understand taking time off, for a variety of reasons – and “I didn’t want to” is certainly more than enough!
    I’ll be looking forward for what’s next! 🙂

    Mar. 27 2015 @ 12:39 am
    1. kay author

      Yes, really all I had to say was “I didn’t want to!” and that should have sufficed. But I did want y’all to know why it was I didn’t want to write… I’m happy to no longer feel that way anymore!

      Mar. 31 2015 @ 12:40 pm
  21. Welcome back! We’re glad you found your words. I can totally relate to losing inspiration and not wanting to write, especially about travel when it feels like you can’t fulfill your idea of what travel is at the moment. I also can relate to the feeling of relief and a flood of inspiration once you do hit the road….and your road took you to Mexico with your pups! How amazing! How long do you plan to be there? I’m flying into Guadalajara on June 2, and have six weeks without a plan after that. I’d love to meet up if that’s possible!

    Mar. 29 2015 @ 7:35 pm
    1. Jessica J. Hill author

      The plan is to be in Mexico for at least six months (maybe more if we really love it here), so we’ll certainly be here in June… though where exactly we’ll be in the country by then, I cannot say! We’re not too far from Guadalajara right now and are planning to visit the city at the tail-end of April. Not entirely sure where we’ll head after that, but it would be wonderful if we could meet up. We’ll keep you posted on our travel plans as we make them, and please do the same!

      Mar. 31 2015 @ 12:41 pm
  22. We’re glad to have you back again and of course, at first, I was a little worried that things were proving far too difficult, or perhaps family obligations had turned up. However, in the end, you left when you were ready to leave and not a second before!

    Your post is a constant reminder that we are the bosses of our blogs and not the other way around. Travel blogging is so much fun and when it’s no longer fun but a drag and a chore, we’ve lost our way. I’m awfully pleased that you’ve found your way back again. Hurrah!

    Apr. 1 2015 @ 12:59 pm
    1. Victoria@ The British Berliner author

      It’s really easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re a slave to your blog and that it is an obligation… and of course when that happens, all the fun of blogging quickly vanishes! I’m glad I took a little time away to get right with myself and rediscover my enthusiasm for sharing stories here!

      Apr. 2 2015 @ 9:12 am
  23. I can totally understand the feeling of just not wanting to write if you don’t feel inspired. I wouldn’t want it to ever feel like a chore. Glad that you guys figured out that you needed to be on the road again and you’re in Mexico now – wow! Can’t wait to hear about your journey 🙂

    BTW – Sorry that we never got to meet up in Toronto! Hopefully at some point in the future, or maybe even if you think about attending TBEX North America later this year – I think we might go!

    Apr. 2 2015 @ 9:32 pm
    1. Lauren author

      I’m sorry too that we weren’t able to meet up while we were in Toronto, but undoubtedly Tony & I will be back at some point in the future (though hopefully we can make this traveling lifestyle work well enough that it won’t be for a while!) and we’ll just have to make meeting up a priority then! It’s unlikely that we’ll do TBEX NA this year (I don’t even know where it is!), but never say never! Hope all is well back in the T-dot!

      Apr. 3 2015 @ 11:01 am

We want to hear from you!

Required fields are marked with red.

Anything you share with us will not be published, traded, sold or otherwise used outside this site in any way, ever. We will not spam you.

We moderate comments, so if you haven't posted with us before and your comment doesn't show up right away, we will get to it, no need to post it twice. Thanks for your patience!

Name is required. You can only use alphanumeric characters (a-z, A-Z).