I’m having one of those days when I don’t want to write. In fact, I don’t want to do anything. I’m leaving on a trip in a couple days, I’ve got someone coming over later today, and I’m worn out from Fourth of July, so I just want to bag the whole business. Why not, you might ask. Lots of folks are taking a long holiday weekend. Good question.
There’s always a good excuse for not doing it. So what are the reasons TO do it? Take a moment here to think about your reasons or try to guess mine.
Got something in mind? Good.
Here are my top five:
Momentum: If I stop in the middle of a project, it’s going to be hard to get my head back into it when I return to it. And I might be tempted to stop altogether. I’m also a musician, and I know that when I’m trying to learn a song, if I don’t keep coming back to it, I never really learn it. Same thing with writing.
Keeping my writing muscles in shape: If I don’t keep to my writing schedule, I get rusty. It gets harder. I don’t like that.
Time: I’m old enough to order off the senior menus, and I’m all too aware that people my age—or any age—can suddenly die or become too sick or disabled to work. If/when that happens, I want to have written everything I possibly can.
Money: I want to publish as much as possible and keep as much money coming in as possible. Self-employed writers do not get sick leave, vacation time, or days off for not being in the mood.
Readers: I have at least a few people who look forward to my next book, article, poem or post. If I don’t keep at it, they’ll lose faith in me and find another writer to read.
So there you have it. I have now written two blog posts and plan to get back to my novel. What are you going to write? What are the reasons that keep you going? Please share.
P.S. Starting Sunday, I’m going to have limited Internet access for about a week. Please forgive me if I’m slow approving comments or putting up new posts. I’ll be back.
Now go write.
Do you know that feeling when you get so immersed in your writing that you just keep going and going and no longer care what time it is or what else is waiting for you to do? Later you’ll have to worry about revising, editing, marketing, and all that blah blah blah, but if you haven’t experienced it, let me tell you that when the writing flies on its own, it’s the best.
How do you get there? You allow time, you prepare yourself and your tools, you warm up, and then you write. Do this as often as you can, and it will happen.
This morning, I got up late and was more inclined to stare at the TV coverage of the mass shooting at a local shopping mall than to write another page of my novel. But the newscasters were getting repetitious, and my work was waiting. Blessed with being able to stay home most mornings, I treat my writing like a job. I shower, eat breakfast and get dressed, then report to my bedroom office with a mug of hot tea. I go through the mail, pay bills that are due soon, check email and various websites, then get down to business.
I start by sitting on the sofa with my dog and my notebook. I journal, I write a little poetry, I jot down ideas for future writing projects. Sometimes it’s total junk, but it’s writing. Then, warmed up, I go back to my computer, silence the Internet, and bring my current project onto the screen. I read what I wrote yesterday, tweaking it here and there, and then I start writing.
Today was one of those days when I didn’t feel like it, and yet, after a page of whining about why I couldn’t write, I wrote a poem about the shooting. Then I wrote 1,600 words on my novel, so excited about the scene unfolding before me that I didn’t want to stop. If I didn’t remember a detail from past pages or needed to look up a word, I marked it and went on. If something didn’t feel quite right, I marked it and went on. I had planned to give the book just 15 minutes because I have a lot to do today, but two hours passed and I didn’t care. It was fun, the most fun a writer can have.
Don’t feel like writing? Can’t get started? Get yourself organized, write a little junk and see if that doesn’t lead to something good. Don’t promise yourself magic or hours of productivity. It scares the muse away. Just write a little something and see what happens. If you do this often enough, the time will come when you’ll feel the story taking over, sort of like cruise control on the car. Keep writing and enjoy the ride.
It’s amazing what a to-do list can do. Too often if I don’t know what I want to do, I waste the day wandering around my office and grabbing at odds and ends. I may have some plans in mind and some things that need to be done, but I’m not in the mood when I wake up, I let worries distract me, or I get lured out into the gorgeous sunshine just beyond my window.
But if I have a list, I can start at the top and just do it. Checking tasks off when I finish them feels so good, and the pile of projects I’ve finished or moved forward is noticeably taller.
Anybody can make a list, but here are some tips:
- Make a to-do list for each day BEFORE that day, so you can jump right in, ready to go.
- Don’t put more on the list than you can actually do in one day. Be realistic. How long will it take to do each thing, and how long do you have? A to-do list that you can’t finish can be so discouraging that you just give up.
- Prioritize. Make sure the most important things, such as new writing, are at or near the top of the list, so you tackle them when you have the most energy. Put busywork near the end of the day.
- Be flexible. If something turns out to be not worth doing or not possible to do today, take it off the list. You’re the boss.
- Make another list of things that you’re going to get to some other day and set it aside for another day’s to-do list.
Okay, I’m about to cross off “blog.” My next task is a trip to the post office, and then I get to work on my book.
It doesn’t matter what you write your list on. Put it on your computer, your calendar, a scrap of paper, a white board (my current choice), your phone, your iPad, whatever. Just make the list.