My Writers Circle

Writing => Authors' Resource Centre => Topic started by: landmersm on July 14, 2019, 09:45:23 PM

Title: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: landmersm on July 14, 2019, 09:45:23 PM
Do you ever feel like not writing? Do you ever feel like it's just not worth it?  How do you combat that?
Title: Re: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: nosuchmember on July 14, 2019, 11:40:57 PM
Reading this 2009 article, I thought it might be of help. You might want to visit the site. It has some great comments on the subject.   jt

6 tricks for writing when you donít feel like it

July 29, 2009 By Barbara O'Neal

In a perfect  world, all writers would always get exactly enough sleep.  In the morning, weíd drift down to a nutritious, leisurely breakfast prepared by someone else, then amble into our beautiful study to write with joy and abandon on the current project(s).

In a perfect world, no writer would be awakened three times in the night by a child or a cat, never have an extra glass of wine or a fight with our mothers.  We would not worry about getting money into the right account for bills or fuss about a furnace that needs replacing.  Our children and spouses and relatives would all respect our work time as Utterly Sacred andóif this was a really perfect worldóweíd never do any dishes, publishers would always pay on time, and ó

Yeah, my world isnít perfect either.   I love my job, but right this moment, Iíd rather not be writing.  I slept funny and thereís a catch in the middle of my back thatís bugging me. Iíve been working hard for a fairly long stretch, and there are naps and hikes with my name on them that I probably wonít get to take.  I have a small headache. The weather has been eternally rainy.  In a word, Iím grumpy.  Iíd like to crawl into my cave and watch movies for about six weeks. 

But Iím a commercial fiction writer, and work is always better than no work. Always.  Even if I didnít do the blog that I am slated to do, there are other projects that need addressing, and if I ever want to take a month off again to travel, Iíve got to work.

So how to get it done?  How do you work when you really donít feel like it, when you are tired or grumpy or slightly under the weather?  Itís easy to say, ďSit down and write,Ē but itís not psychologically satisfying. Thereís no map to it, no plan.

I have to trick myself into work, and I bet some of you do, too. Over the years, Iíve developed a mostly reliable set of mental tricks and tools that really do help on days like this. Maybe some of them will work for you.  (And if you have a trick, share your ideas with the rest of us in the comments! Please!)     

This is my toolbox for days Iíd rather get a root canal than do my work.

#1 Show up.

All that means is that you donít let yourself off the hook.  If itís a work day, you work, and since you have to work even if you donít want to, it might be most helpful to actually get it done early.  If you donít get it done early, set a deadline for yourself.  Pencil it in at a particular time.

I was preoccupied this morning with another task, and someone is coming to look at a landscaping chore in the early afternoon, so I slated the work time for the blog in the late morning.   

#2  Reward yourself and keep the rewards coming.

Itís not always easy to produce on demand, so I constantly try to make it easier on myself.  I buy good coffee to drink while Iím working.  I have a great chair.  Because I worked earlier, then walked the dogs, I gave myself the breathing space of checking email and playing around on the Internet before I turned back to writing the blog.  In a way, I used the procrastination time to think about what I might write about if I could summon interest in anything.   I read some things on the Internet, but nothing kindled a Big Idea. So I asked Twitterers and Facebook friends if they had any requests for a writing blog.  And a bunch of people responded with great ideas (all of which are now tidily stashed away in my ďIf I get stuck about ideas againĒ blog file), and there was one that resonated pretty strongly: what do you do when you donít want to write and you have to do it anyway?   

One thing Iíve learned writing columns over the years, is that a writer can usually come up with 500-1000 words on just about anything.  Settling on a subject is the hard part.  So, I was relieved to have a suggestion that worked.  I stuck it in the back of my mind to brew and then:

#3 Pretend itís a day job and other people will see you.  Shower, shave or do your hair, put on presentable clothes.

One thing influencing my grouchy mood was the state of my crazy hair this morning. Does that sound shallow? Maybe it is, but I have a lot of hair it and it was kinky and kooky and irritating. I took a shower and washed my hair and blew it dry and put on make-up and presentable clothes. If Iím working well, I often leave my yoga pants on all day and only remember to brush my hair when I hear the garage door opening in the evening.  If Iím having trouble getting myself on task, making myself presentable, looking like a person who has important things to do, can help get me into a disciplined state of mind.   

#4 Change your scene

A change of location can be enormously helpful.   It feels different to work somewhere besides my office;  I feel less alone, less pathetic and idea-less when Iím in public.  I can use a laptop or a notebookóoften if Iím very, very pathetic, a notebook is a good trick to get myself moving.   

Be careful, however.  If the Internet is tempting and you must work on a laptop, go somewhere that it will be stupidly expensive, or there is no connection at all.  I was planning to go to the coffeeshop, but it was too busy and I was hungry anyway, so I chose to come to Panera bread for the free wireless (you see I was still procrastinating in this little rebellion).  Since Iím still dieting off the RWA conference, I was only allowed to have a salad, and Panera has very nice ones, along with good coffee.   Itís lunchtime, so the place is packed, but I also know that there is only 30 minutes of wifi available, so I canít screw up too much. 

(You see how the rewards keep coming? A new location.  A nice salad for lunch.  Another little stretch of play on the Internet.  Oh, and the little netbook itself, which was a previous reward for finishing my last book and the revisions on time. )

#5  Set a timer and start writing.

A good period of timed writing is about 20 minutes.  I learned this trick from the Natalie Goldberg school of free writing, and it works very well for me, and it tends to work for anyone who might be stuck for any number of  judgmental reasons. Youíre judging your work too hard. Someone else has judged you and wounded your spirit. Youíve been badly rejected. Whatever.  Judgment interferes with the free flow of words, so to get by it, you have to go back to mad writing. 

20 minutes of fast writing with no judgment from you, just words piling up.  It doesnít have to be good writing. It just has to be on topic.  If Iím going to write about how to write when you donít feel like it, I start there.  If Iím stuck in a novel, I will choose the scene that is causing me trouble, shift viewpoint or setting and spend 20 minutes on that.  I might write 20 minutes of autobiography or skip ahead to a scene I know about later in a book.   

Whatever. You have to start writing somewhere.  It doesnít have to be the best spot, just any spot.  See if it works.  You can always throw it out. 

Reward yourself again.  (I used to smoke, and smoking is great for this reward period. Unfortunately, it stinks and will eventually kill you, so I switched to other things.  A little walk upstairs, or outside to look at the flowers.  Take a picture.  Pour a fresh coffee) 

#6 Evaluate.  Repeat.  Reward. 

At the end of the timed writing, ask yourself: how did the topic work?  Is it resonating for you? Depending on your energy levels and task load, can you keep going for a few more segments?  Twenty minutes is really easy, especially if you use the carrots (karats?) of pleasure along the way.       

If it isnít working, start fresh with something else and try again.  Remember not to freak out, just write.  One sentence and then another.  Donít judge.  Keep rewarding yourself.

My reward for writing, then polishing, this blog was that I am now allowed to get online and play around with the logistics of planning a trip to India. What would it take? Where would I like to go? How much does something like that cost?  You might choose to read a new book or listen to music or buy an ice cream cone.   Whatever you think will work.

What are your tricks? What are some good rewards you can think of?

(And now Iím finished and will go have a nap then play with itineraries. Cheers!)
Title: Re: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: landmersm on July 15, 2019, 09:25:47 PM
I was thinking more along the lines of impostor syndrome - combating the feeling of inadequacy, feeling like you shouldn't be doing this. I struggle with this constantly. I'm always doubting everything I do.

Thanks for the response and the links, though.   ;)
Title: Re: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: nosuchmember on July 16, 2019, 03:50:02 PM
You welcome. I have read some of your writing. I would say you process enough talent and insight to accomplish whatever you  choose to do.

Best of luck with your writing.

Title: Re: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: landmersm on July 16, 2019, 10:18:03 PM
Thanks for your kind words.

It's a daily struggle, I suppose.
Title: Re: Do you ever feel . . . . .
Post by: nosuchmember on July 17, 2019, 05:54:17 PM
Thanks for your kind words.

It's a daily struggle, I suppose.

I don't write things, to appear to be 'nice'. Your writing is above average-I wish I was as talented. If I were, I would have  finished and published a book on the Terry Schiavo case long ago.

As for struggling times,  like you,l get down....and doubt myself, and my own worth sometimes. 

Every time negative  starts, I've  learned to think about my son, who stayed positive even after a doctor told him he'd have no lungs by the time he reached 35....He will be 41 in October.  My son still tells me, all any of us get to live is 'one breathe at a time."

Thinking positive helps get through the hard times.

Best wishes to you and yours,