Writing When You Don’t Wanna

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We all have those days when we’re charged with creative energy.  We’re atomic bombs of energy, split nuclear atoms of joy!  These are the days that we call off dinner with friends because we’re writing. We stay up in the middle of the night. We blow through three chapters, call ourselves geniuses, and then drop into bed.

Then there are the other days.  I’m not talking about days where we’re merely distracted or disinterested.  I’m talking about the darker, deeper days when we’re ill.  Or nail-bitingly anxious.  Or depressed.  Taking a day off or two is no big problem, but those days could easily turn into weeks or even months.  And if you’re trying to forge ahead with your dreams, two months of no writing is going to catch up with you.  You’ll see your momentum backslide.  Worse than that, you’ll hear that nasty, negative little voice that says you aren’t good enough. You don’t take your craft seriously enough, you don’t work hard enough.  Your hair isn’t shiny enough (or is that just my negative little voice?) and your commitments are building up on you, becoming more than you can manage.  If you’re sick/depressed/stressed/otherwise incapacitated, this buildup is the last thing that you need.  The more stress, the more negativity. The more negativity, the less get-up-and-go you’ll find in yourself.  And a writer without get-up-and-go is a stalled, unhappy writer.

Yeah, I’m there.  I’m frustrated that I don’t have the energy to work as hard and as efficiently as I used to.  But throwing my arms helplessly in the air only made things worse.  Instead, I have devised a plan using my trusty timer.

15 minutes a day on a project.  That’s all.

If I want to do more than that, great.  If I get inspired, even better! If I do 15 minutes on a few different projects, I’ll laud myself as a goddess.  But 15 minutes is my minimum.  It’s short enough that I’m not overwhelmed by it, but long enough that I can get to work on something.  Getting started is the hardest part for me, and once I’m going, I’m usually going for longer than my 15.   But if I plan for 15 minutes, and give myself a mental high-five when I complete it, then life goes a lot smoother.

Do you have any motivational tricks techniques that you use to keep yourself working even when you don’t feel like it?

Breathe.

I read something that saved me. Now maybe it’s because I’m An Independent Woman, and An Independant Woman thinks that we can do it all.  We take care of the house, the paperwork, the car, the children, clip coupons, volunteer, read fine (and not so fine) literature, and, of course, have a career. While keeping in shape, cooking healthy, frugal meals for the family, and always being pleasant.

What do I look like, a psychopathic juggler? And when did I start grinding my teeth?

Frankly, my friends, I am overwhelmed. Six years ago, few people even knew what a blog was.  Now we all have blogs.  We HAVE to have blogs, especially if we’re writers. And a Twitter account. And Facebook, etc. We’re supposed to hit conferences and sprinkle the blogosphere with our charming witticisms and set up book signings and somewhere in this whirling insanity, we’re supposed to actually have time to write, edit, and query a novel?  And see our families?  I feel like everything is a choice.  Write the blog or write my WIP. Read or play with my kids. When I take my kids to their plethora of doctor’s appointments, I’m thinking that, darn it, these four hours would have done wonders for my writing time.  When I stay up late to write, I think that I really should be sleeping.  When I’m sleeping…man, that’s it.  I’m just dead to the world.

And then I read this post by Nathan Bransford and the hysteria subsided a bit. Somebody actually saying that you don’t have to do everything? Unheard of. But fantastic. Utterly fantastic.

Do you feel the pressure? How are you managing everything? Any advice for the rest of us?