Under the Weather: Finding your Grit

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?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

 

 

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.

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Photo by Thomas Charters 

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.

shakesSometimes 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.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Under the Weather: Finding your Grit

  1. I agree with your strategy. Writing anything, even if it’s horrible, can sometimes be the only way to get back into a groove. I also think it’s tough to transition from editing a finished piece to starting a new one because I edit for so long, I get spoiled working on something polished. Then when I start from scratch, I look at the new words and paragraphs and think, “Yuck! This stinks!” before I give it a chance to develop.

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    • I totally agree. I think being consistent is more important even if the words aren’t amazing. For me, it’s a lot harder to get back into anything when I’ve stayed away too long!

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  2. “10 minutes is better than nothing.” So very true. Just keep moving forward. It can be hard, especially with those lovely side quests begging for completion marks. Have you considered making quests and side quests out of your writing goals to help give you the same thrill of completion you get from video games? It almost makes me want to try 4thewords…

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    • lolol that is an amazing idea! I keep wanting to try a bullet journal or something similar and I could totally incorporate that!

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  3. Being excited about a project is really important, and it definitely doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. I haven’t tried to trick myself, but maybe I’ll give it a go. Good points and good post.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. Great ideas. I’ve convinced myself that I’ll be adding to my health when I visit my writing daily. Writing/editing, once I’ve done it, makes me feel good. Too many days of not sitting down behind my computer screen or spiral notebook, makes me feel poorly. Just the idea of my craft stagnating and work in progress not moving forward, influences how I physically feel.

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    • Exactly. I’ve been trying to balance a lot but just as need to eat good food to be healthy and fueled, we also need creativity for our souls and exercise for our bodies. It all matters!

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