Writing When You Don't Want To
Tips on Getting Started
I've made an effort over the years to eliminate romance from my writing routine. I used to believe that in order to put words on the page, I needed to feel like writing. As a pre-requisite to starting, I looked for inspiration and motivation. In Bursting the “Writing Should Be Inspired” Balloon, I note that writers often
believe that all writing should be inspired, that it has some ideal conditions that must be met for it to happen, and that if we don’t feel like writing, then it will be impossible.
I advocate for a different mindset around writing in order to make it more routined, regular, and to put less pressure on what writing should look like. Instead,
Writing is more often uninspired, it rarely takes place in romanticized conditions, and to do it a lot requires the habituation of brushing your teeth. When you sit down to write as a habit, your feelings about it are often neutral and only fueled by the inertia of doing it regularly. The most prolific writers…don’t wait till that writing retreat in some exotic location or communion with the right group of scholars to write, because those spaces are elusive and few and far between. Most productive writers stop seeking their Hogwarts library and settle into writing in that cluttered corner of their apartment.
Letting go of the idea that all writing should be inspired and has an ideal set of conditions that must be met allows writers to develop more routined writing that doesn’t have to have positive feelings or bright ideas associated with it as a prerequisite to begin. Inspiration arises in the act of writing rather than being a preexisting condition that a writer must meet in order to begin.
Making writing a habit makes it much easier to get started on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that resistance is eradicated forevermore. There are days when I simply don't feel like writing for a variety of reasons, but I've developed some techniques to help me get past some of this resistance to starting.
This post offers some mindsets and techniques for writing even when you just don't feel like it.
Inspiration arises in the act of writing rather than being a preexisting condition that a writer must meet in order to begin.