Writing When You Don't Wanna

We all have those days when we’re charged with creative energy.  We’re atomic bombs of energy, split nuclear atoms of joy!  These are the days that we call off dinner with friends because we’re writing. We stay up in the middle of the night. We blow through three chapters, call ourselves geniuses, and then drop into bed.
Then there are the other days.  I’m not talking about days where we’re merely distracted or disinterested.  I’m talking about the darker, deeper days when we’re ill.  Or nail-bitingly anxious.  Or depressed.  Taking a day off or two is no big problem, but those days could easily turn into weeks or even months.  And if you’re trying to forge ahead with your dreams, two months of no writing is going to catch up with you.  You’ll see your momentum backslide.  Worse than that, you’ll hear that nasty, negative little voice that says you aren’t good enough. You don’t take your craft seriously enough, you don’t work hard enough.  Your hair isn’t shiny enough (or is that just my negative little voice?) and your commitments are building up on you, becoming more than you can manage.  If you’re sick/depressed/stressed/otherwise incapacitated, this buildup is the last thing that you need.  The more stress, the more negativity. The more negativity, the less get-up-and-go you’ll find in yourself.  And a writer without get-up-and-go is a stalled, unhappy writer.
Yeah, I’m there.  I’m frustrated that I don’t have the energy to work as hard and as efficiently as I used to.  But throwing my arms helplessly in the air only made things worse.  Instead, I have devised a plan using my trusty timer.
15 minutes a day on a project.  That’s all.
If I want to do more than that, great.  If I get inspired, even better! If I do 15 minutes on a few different projects, I’ll laud myself as a goddess.  But 15 minutes is my minimum.  It’s short enough that I’m not overwhelmed by it, but long enough that I can get to work on something.  Getting started is the hardest part for me, and once I’m going, I’m usually going for longer than my 15.   But if I plan for 15 minutes, and give myself a mental high-five when I complete it, then life goes a lot smoother.
Do you have any motivational tricks techniques that you use to keep yourself working even when you don’t feel like it?

11 Comments on “Writing When You Don't Wanna”

  1. When I have those days, I find that I am even more depressed by the end of he day, having accomplished nothing constructive. So, what I like to do is spend some time reading through old work, hoping that I can either be inspired to rework something or find new inspiration in those old ideas. Then I try to get at least a page of something–anything–written.

  2. As you said, we tend to get into that rut when we’re not writing, so the best way to get out of it is to start writing. Do it knowing that you have a gift and trust that eventually, at least a few of the words will sound inspired. I’m a big fan of your work, Mercedes. I know that you haven’t written your last surprising sentence. Go find it like some shiny, black haired detective. Talk like Humphrey Bogart if you need to until you do. It will be fun.
    As for me, I’m having too much fun right now. I mope sometimes when I feel like my blog stats aren’t comparing to my peers, or when bigtado authors give me the cold shoulder, but that motivates me. You people don’t notice me? Fine, then I’m going to work harder until you do. It’s not all for fame, but wouldn’t we all like the support from said fame so we can write full time?
    I exercise and when possible listen to podcasts at the same time. It is inspiring to hear of others success. I want that. So, I go get it. If what you need is encouragement that you will, I say you will, just keep after it. I’d quote specific verses from Proverbs 14, but the easy advice is just to say it helps me in similar moods.

  3. great advice – set yourself attainable targets – 15 minutes a day exercise is better than no minutes – one word/paragraph/page/chapter ditto – c’est le premier pas qui coute, as they say……

  4. Just thinking of you. I am getting back into my writing groove after a couple of weeks of unintentionally just being overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but I find if I start my day with the writing, before brushing teeth or finishing coffee or touching email, I can actually write a chapter a day. I just have to discipline myself. Want to join me?

  5. I go through these periods, usually after wrapping up a big project, where I will disappear into a video game for two weeks and not come back out into the real world. It’s so hard to get back into the groove when that happens, so I’ve tried to make myself write just a little bit a day during those gamer blackouts, even if it’s just a blog post or a review. It seems to be helping… mostly.

  6. I’ve been stalled for a couple of months, too. And my hair isn’t shiny, either. Except on those days I don’t get to shower. Then it’s a little too shiny. Funny thing is, the project I’m avoiding is a blog-to-book series on how to get your butt in the chair and write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. 🙂 Oh, the irony.

  7. Oh, yes, I’ve been there too damned often.
    For me, it’s like driving down a long road. It’s great when the road is smooth, the weather is nice, and your favorite song is playing on the radio. Then the potholes appear, the rain comes down, and the radio switches from music to political punditry. Then it just plain sucks. You just want to pull over and binge-watch something.
    But guess what? You need to get through this rough stuff to get back to the smooth stretch. If your 15-minute increments work for you, then that’s what you do. As for me, I just keep hacking away. It may take some time, but the road will, in time, be a pleasure to drive down again.
    This ain’t exactly profound, I know, but hey. We all get by. So will you, Mercedes. And you know it. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Ding! – a post to motivate me. | taramayoros.com

  9. Pingback: Writing When You Don’t Wanna | Writing outside of the Box

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