The other day, a group of writer friends and I were talking. It seems for weeks now, none of us have felt very motivated. We’re not behaving like our usual prolific, proactive, hard-working selves. That’s not to say we’re missing deadlines or shrugging off obligations – Heaven forbid – but we haven’t felt especially ambitious or creative. One writer said she heard it might have to do with astrological changes, another wondered if recent political tensions have zapped our energy, another said she is sensing a general melancholy in the world that might be touching all of us.

“All I want to do is sit around and read,” I admitted, knowing full well that’s not an option, but wishing for it anyway. All my friends nodded. “Yes! Me too,” they said.

Then one guy who’d been kind of quiet piped up. “I don’t think it’s necessarily bad that we’re all moving at a slower place right now,” he said. “I think maybe we’re just filling our tanks. You gotta do that sometimes so you can keep going.”

Of course, filling our tanks! That’s what we’re doing. We’ve all been working so hard for so long, and many days we’re not even sure where it’s getting us. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and artists are still struggling to figure out how to make a living. Still.

We’ve traveled a lot of miles on our respective journeys and probably been driving on fumes far longer than we should have. Maybe it’s just time to refill our tanks.

“I don’t see anything wrong with reading all day,” my friend continued. “I mean, we’re writers, we take inspiration from reading. Reading good work can be motivating.”

Oh, thank you for saying that, I thought. He was right of course. There’s a time to create and a time to appreciate the creations of others, the beauty they bring to the world. There’s a time to just sit back and notice what other people can teach us and let other artists remind us why this work matters. There’s a time to let other people do the driving.

I know these writers and I know myself. We’ll be back up to full speed soon, speeding down our individual highways at 100 miles an hour. But sometimes you gotta hit the brakes and pull off at a rest area. Maybe keep a good book in the car, in case you wind up doing just that.

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