It’s Monday morning, you had a great weekend, but you’re a bit tired. You call your boss and say you won’t be in today.
‘Oh, why not?’ she asks.
‘I just don’t feel like it.’
‘Fair enough. Well, I hope you’ll feel like coming in again soon. Your job will always be here for when you do feel like,’ she says.
A likely scenario, right? How about this one …?
You arrive home from a grinding day at work, knowing you should put an hour in at the keyboard working on The Novel, but you just don’t feel like it. So you don’t.
That’s much more likely, yes? And chances are, you’ll tell yourself you’ll make it up tomorrow (which you won’t), or do a long stretch at the weekend when you’ll really feel like writing (which you most certainly won’t because it’s the weekend).
So what’s going on here?
The fact is, we often do things we don’t feel like doing, yet we do them anyway. Did you really feel like going into work today? (Really?) Do you really feel like going grocery shopping? Or going to the dentist?
How about brushing your teeth? This is a great analogy because it’s something we all do at least twice a day, but give very little thought to. We just do it. And that’s the state you want to get to with your writing. No excuses, not even any real forethought; you just sit down and do it.
“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” Isabelle Allende
The weird thing about writing – and I experience this almost every day – is that it takes 5-10 minutes for my brain to properly engage with whatever I’m working on. In that start-up time, it’s highly suggestible to doing anything that’s not writing. Another cup of tea. Checking email. Putting on the laundry. Even going out grocery shopping. But if I persist, it’s like it finally gives up and goes, “All right, damn it. If you insist …” and I’m away.
“… a writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
I’ve lost count of the number of times this has happened. In fact, I’ve come to welcome those not-feeling-like-writing times because they often turn out to be my most productive. At the end of an allocated hour, I’ll invariably carry on, sometimes way longer than planned, and finally have to tear myself away – which is also good because I’ll be keen to get back to it tomorrow.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
Believe it or not, I didn’t actually feel like writing this blog today. But I did it anyway.
Like they say in the shoe ad …