What Do You Do When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

All the writers I know have days – sometimes weeks – when they’re in no mood to write.   During such times it’s probably no good to stare at yourself in the mirror, ordering,  “DO IT ANYWAY.”  I’ve tried that and, though it may get me in front of my computer, it doesn’t usually help the (absent) flow.

But if you’re trying to make a living, especially if you have a job and are working to a deadline, “in no mood to write” can lead to a career death spiral.  Or at least to a temporary loss of income.   A major part of making it as a writer is the ability to produce from anywhere, in all types of situations, and whatever one’s mood.  So what to do?

A lot of us use the analytical approach: “Why am I opposed to writing today?”  It can produce interesting material in and of itself, though there’s a risk of falling into a pity party or, what’s worse, getting lost in an analytical jungle full of creepy crawlies, noisy primates and predatory quadrupeds.  One of my favorites is, “I work my butt off and no one reads my stuff.”  Or the valid if unproductive beef, “Three weeks of work and they want to pay me $50??”  There’s always, “For crying out loud they want edits that’ll ruin my article!”  And, on very bad days, “My stuff must not be any good; I keep getting rejections.”  A word of advice: don’t check your email after thinking the latter, because there’s probably a rejection waiting for you.

The embarassment nothwithstanding, don’t underestimate the value of whining to yourself, or better yet, writing out your whines (that’s a tweet in whine mode.)  Airing your favorite complaints gives you the opportunity to see them for what they are and get some distance.  The things that haunt and annoy writers mostly have roots in reality, and rereading a piece of reality that you’ve just articulated can lead to the thought, “Oh well, it is what it is.”  And maybe you’ll get to work.  At the very least, you’ll eventually get sick of hearing yourself whine.  Well, you should, anyway.

Or, if something’s going on in your life that has kicked writing off your list of priorities, you can write about that, and you’ll probably produce something you can use in the future.  I once wrote a piece on how I was finding it impossible to run a non-writing related business while at the same time being a freelance writer.  Later, a writers’ website accepted it for publication.

If all else fails you can write an intentional piece about being in no mood to write.  It may not produce the work that’s due, but it will give you the space to rant and rave in crafted prose about how fed up you are with writing.  If you correct and revise and rewrite, you may find that you’re done with being in no mood to write.  Then maybe you’ll get to work.

 

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