by | Mar 6, 2024 | Life, Writing | 0 comments

Field in the foreground with a forest in the background

Sometimes we have to let our fields go fallow.

The pervasive message (usually on social media) is that if you aren’t producing content, you effectively don’t exist. If you aren’t pushing out a book every six months/one month/two weeks, you’re losing ground. Algorithms encourage momentum. Invisibility feels like nonexistence.

I’m reminded of a writer acquaintance of mine. I don’t know her very well, but we’re close enough to be Facebook friends. I’ve watched her journey through a series of Facebook posts where she opined her lack of released work in the last year. She was feeling stuck and sad, and imposter syndrome seemed to be kicking her hard. Most people might suggest she get back on the horse, start again, and just get back to the hustle. But this isn’t taking into account that she had released two books in the last year as well as continued developing her craft by participating in workshops and conferences. Oh, and then there was the entire human being she gave birth to and was busy nursing.

This idea that nothing we ever do is enough comes from the media environment we find ourselves in. It’s an environment that demands constant novelty and engagement. It’s also a product of hustle culture and the promise (which many of my Millennial cohort can attest to) that if you can go viral, you can “make it.” We watched people pull winning lottery tickets and now we’re spending our extra time and energy hoping that this is the thing — the project, the post — that will pull us out of the rat race.

However, as with any disordered perspective, obsessing over constant production is an extreme driven by neurotic rumination encouraged by a system that profits off of that rumination. The feed must be fed, and we allow ourselves to be convinced that it’s not insatiable. If only we can feed it the right thing in the right amount, it will reward us (or so we hope).

But this doesn’t serve us or serve our art. Good narratives must be cultivated, and sometimes that means letting our fields go fallow. Maybe only for a season, maybe for years at a time. Sometimes to write, we have to allow ourselves to read, to walk, and to breathe. We have to let our fields go fallow.

As for me, I’ve let mine rest for a couple years and now I’m ready to sow.


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