Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Musings: Writing when you don't feel like it

I'm finding the title of this blog post kind of ironic because I've already started and deleted at least two posts since settling on this topic. So, yeah, I guess it just goes to show you that even writers don't feel like writing at times, doesn't it?

 The hardest thing about writing, for me, is pushing through even when I feel like whatever I'm working on isn't working. You see, it's not even external critics that really get to me, it's my own internal critic who doesn't seem to like what I'm writing as my fingers are tapping on the keys. However, when I go back and read, I feel better. I can see the threads of the story, and I know it's there, no matter how much I might have suspected it wasn't. There are times when I have to tear away a lot of the fabric so that I can get at those nice, neat stitches, but that's okay--or, at least, I'm learning to accept that it is. For a long time, I felt like the words had to come out fully formed and, if they weren't perfect they weren't worth saving and I should just get rid of them. Now, I go with the flow because I'm learning that I can always go back and fix what needs fixing.

Writing has long been a hobby of mine, and the way I used to write goes exactly with what the word "hobby" implies. I would go months or years without writing because I would wait for the fever to overtake me, until the need to write was so powerful that I could no longer ignore it. I don't do that anymore. Instead, I write at least five days a week. I sit in a chair, I put my hands over the keyboard, and I make myself type. I'm not sure I ever appreciated before just how much discipline it takes to be a writer. It's hard to fall into the trap of "Oh, I'm just not inspired today. I think I'll go fool around and play The Sims instead." Like most things that we find difficult, it's easy to come up with reasons why we can't do that thing, and writing is no exception.

What I'm coming to understand is this: writing is work. It isn't physically intense work. Why else would so many writers have treadmill desks if not because we writers tend to spend a lot of our time just sitting? But writing is a lot of mental work, and that mental work can be very exhausting. Some days I feel completely drained, like there isn't one drop of creativity left in my body. I find myself wondering if my head is a bottomless pit of ideas, or if it's more like a well that will one day run dry. But then I start writing, the story takes shape, and I have hope that I have at least one more in me, and that, in a nutshell, is why I make myself write when I don't feel like it.