This month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks – When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
Excellent question and one that can be difficult to answer. Sometimes writing just doesn’t happen. Sometimes the answer is to do something else, like go for a run, or read, or even play a video game. For me the key is to be excited about a project so even if I’m not on a upswing, I can look forward to writing or editing a piece where I feel passionate about it.
And by feeling passionate or excited I don’t mean feeling that it’s going to be easy. Sometimes the hardest work, where I’m thinking deeply about the writing, is the most fruitful. Granted, it’s so easy to look at the amount of work needed and say, oh I don’t feel passionate about this so I’m going to play World of Warcraft (yes, still playing). The road to procrastination is paved with side quests. The trick is being honest and saying either:
- I just can’t dredge up the words. I need a break to do something else today.
- I’m at a tough spot and it’s going to be rough, but I’m going to focus on this for one hour and see what happens.
And the first option is okay. As long as I don’t let that day become a week or a month.
The second option is when I have to dig deep. Can I do 30 minutes? 15 minutes? Can I write just one paragraph? I tell myself I can delete it when I’m done. These tricks (somehow I can trick myself, which is pretty darn amazing. Brains are weird.), these tricks of time and short bursts of writing lend a sense impermanence to the writing which may be what I need at the moment. After all, if I pretend it’s not “serious writing,” then there’s no pressure. I can delete it and move on. I’m often pleasantly surprised by what comes of letting go of the pressure to perform.
If all else fails, sometimes I switch tracks completely. Last week, feeling conflicted and overwhelmed about working on my projects, I let myself write a few poems. No one has to see them, I flexed some creative muscle, and also worked on brevity and imagery. A win all around.
Sometimes it helps to remember that 10 minutes of writing is better than nothing. You don’t have to create a masterpiece each session. Just write and let go for a few precious moments.