Hope Daylight Savings hasn’t screwed anyone up too much for those in places that observe it (like DC sadly…) So, for while all of us in a sleep-lacking daze, today’s post on how to write even when we may not feel like it.
For the most part, I am pretty lucky when it comes to avoiding writer’s block. I have enough ideas in my head at any one point I can jump back and forth between works when I get stuck on one or another. What does hit me, however, are times when I just don’t feel like writing. Now, these generally coincide with times I really don’t feel like doing anything, but working a full-time job along with freelancing and attempting to have a social life doesn’t leave me with a lot of time to both be able to not do anything for long stretches and be able to get some writing done (maybe when I’m a best-selling author with a 7-book deal, but for now…)
And so, that leads to a sad fact: Write even when you don’t feel like writing, or don’t write at all. Since I don’t see the latter as much of an option, that means I have to find ways to write even when I don’t feel like it.
Some of you might be lucky and have time so that you only have to write when inspiration takes you (as I used to be back as a student a while underemployed), but for the rest who are trying to juggle work, school, a family, loved ones, friends, sports, hobbies, and everything else you might have to do in your already busy life, here are some of my tips to getting past that “I just don’t wanna” feeling:
1. Work on something else. This is my big one. Even if you don’t have multiple novels going at once, it’s possible to get past a block on one story by working on something completely different for at least a little bit. You can start a piece of flash fiction, which is easily completed in one sitting. You can toy around with an idea you had a while ago (just put some characters down and see where it goes for a couple of pages). You can even write a “fan” fic of your own larger novel. Always want your characters to go to Italy but there’s no way that would work in your story? Send them now and chalk that writing up to character building.
2. Word Sprints. What is a word sprint, you ask? Obviously you’ve never been on the NaNoWriMo Forums. Word sprints are timed writing exercises where you do your best to write anything and everything you can think of in 1, 5, 10… minutes. You try to reach personal goals (100 words in 2 minutes) or can add a little more motivation by finding someone to race against (in person or online) or using a program like “Write or Die” where, depending what setting you put it on, after a certain time frame (5, 10, 20 seconds) of not writing, the program will have a pop up reminding you to keep writing, set off a rather unpleasant siren that won’t stop until you keep writing, or (on kamikaze mode) begin un-typing everything you’ve written.
3. Do something “avant garde”. Generally write in third person past tense? Write in first person present. Have a character pop up that has medium awareness or breaks the fourth wall. Throw yourself into the story. You might end up deleting the entire section, but that’s fine. Not everything you write has to be perfect and make it into the final (or even second) draft. It can give you a jump-start to get you back into writing in general just because it’s so different from what you’re used to.
4. Reward System. Ok, maybe you don’t want to eat a cookie for every word you write (unless you’re also working on being a competitive eater, because then, hey, two birds with one stone) but it’s sometimes possible to tempt yourself into writing the same way you bribe a kid into eating his/her vegetables. Really want some chocolate? You get some if you write 1,000 words. Thinking about getting yourself a new DVD? 2,000 words and it’s yours. It can even be something as simple as telling yourself you’ll let yourself sleep in Saturday morning an extra hour if you just get a chapter done.
5. Switch up how you write. For me, I tend to type a lot of what I write, just since it’s simpler come editing time, but there is definitely something to be said for handwriting when I’m in a slump. It also means it’s possible to write in bed while completely lying down (hard to type when on your side since you only have one hand). Bonus: It keeps me from getting bored and ending up on Facebook or reading Cracked.com.
6. Don’t Stress. The most important (and perhaps hardest) of the “get past a slump” tips. The more you stress about not wanting to write, the harder it’s going to be for you to write. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself, either your writing is going to sound, well, forced, or you’re not going to be able to write at all. Sometimes you just won’t be able to motivate yourself to write. It isn’t that big of a problem as long as it’s not every time you sit down. Take a coffee/hot chocolate/beverage of your choice break, watch a TV show, calm down and come back to writing later.