Michaeline: Writing Blahs, Writing Blocks

A magician pulling a rabbit, cards, flowers, fish and pigeons out of a top hat.

How do you get in the mood to pull a story out of your hat? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Recently I stumbled upon an article about writing blocks that made perfect sense: the reason why we put off writing and other things is because we aren’t in the mood for them. (It’s in the Atlantic online, and called “The Procrastination Doom Loop — and How to Break It”. Link below.)

Now, I’ve read a lot of articles and books about procrastination that try to dig out the underlying reasons. They say we fear failure. Or we fear success. Or maybe we fear something else.

But being a shallow person, none of that deep stuff resonated. No, what really hit me in the gut was the shallow reason: I put things off because “I don’t wanna.” I’m waiting until I’m in the mood.

And I have to admit, when I’m in the mood for writing and it’s going well, it’s better than anything. I really love it.

But writing when I’m not in the mood? Everything drags, and I feel like I’d be better off doing almost anything else.

So, this is all fine and good, but the problem is, the article didn’t mention a thing about how to get into a good mood for writing. Do you think it’s possible?

There are a few things I’d like to try.

1. My number one complaint is “’I’m tired.” Remedy? Try a power nap from YouTube, such as this 20 minute one. (Binaural Beats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9Ne7iT35Zc)

2. I’m tired, redux. Have a drink. Try water, or tea. Or a strawberry smoothie! Rehydrate.

3. Try eating something good. I mean that in the tasty sense as well as the good-for-you sense. Yummy things lift your spirit, and nutritious things nourish your body. For some reason (probably the calcium and fish-oil combo), sardines boost my mood. Some sardines and crackers feels like a holiday treat! And there are lots of healthy holiday appetizers out there that may look festive next to your keyboard.

4. Music. The Greeks loved it for melancholy, and these days, you don’t have to send a messenger to Hire-a-Lyre in order to get some. We’ve talked about playlists a lot of times on this blog, but I’m sure you have some good ideas about music that gets you in the mood for writing. For me, it’s industrial techno, like Kollectiv Turmstrasse.

5. Just sit down and write. Sometimes, the mood will come if called. You all have heard the old “fake it ‘til you make it” cheer. Give it a good old 200 words, and see if you want to proceed further.

We’re on Day 18 of NaNo, so if you are pushing harder than you are accustomed to pushing, you might be feeling a little empty. But writing inspiration isn’t like gasoline – you don’t have to pump it out of the ground or go to the gas station to get it. It’s all around you. Maybe now is the time to take things down a notch, and start a “maintenance writing schedule” – the kind of writing schedule you’d like to maintain all year long. Or . . . it might be time to just push towards your goals, whatever they are. After all, there are only 12 more days of NaNo. You can establish a normal writing pattern in December.

You know you best. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up for your choices. It doesn’t help. But do choose the choices that are going to make you feel better tomorrow. After all, getting stuff done is one of the best ways to get in the mood to do more.

Identifying the problem: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/the-procrastination-loop-and-how-to-break-it/379142/

Hungry? Healthy stuff like popcorn, peppers stuffed with bean dip and garnished with veggies, deviled eggs, and more. Start with Better Homes & Gardens: http://www.bhg.com/recipes/party/appetizers/new-years-party-appetizer-recipes/

Nancy Hunter talks about how she builds playlists: https://eightladieswriting.com/2015/03/16/nancy-a-little-mood-music/

4 thoughts on “Michaeline: Writing Blahs, Writing Blocks

  1. Playlists, Pinterest boards and even real collages help me sometimes. Fortunately I seem to have hit a point where this book is finally talking to me and telling its story and I just have to type. I love that part–I just wish it didn’t take till halfway through the second draft to get there.

    • Oh, that’s great that it’s talking to you!

      Yeah, random internet messing about feels really bad and too indulgent. But if I’m messing around on the internet looking at story-related stuff, it feels much better. I found one of my long-lost childhood books just this week while looking around for stuff on magic rings on Wikipedia! Didn’t help my story, but I was so pleased to see it after some 35 years.

  2. I like the “don’t wanna” reason. I remember once with my mother, asking her to do something with me, and she had every reason in the book why she couldn’t. And I kept finding ways to “solve” her “problems,” until she said, she was the mom, she didn’t want to. Good enough!

    So I think that’s a legitimate excuse for not doing something. But if you always wait for the muse or the mood to strike, probably none of us would get very much written in a month. Sometimes you just have to muscle through. I think, though, Michaeline, that you might be selling yourself just a tiny bit short. I seem to recall how much you’ve written since class, and you didn’t get all that done by sitting on your hands.

    • “I don’t wanna” is the exact reason why I don’t write every day, and it makes perfect sense to me. However, identifying the problem is the first step — next step is, but I wanna do X, Y and Z that requires a lot of doing stuff I don’t really want to do. I mean, I’ve conquered doing dishes and the laundry on a regular basis. There’s this huge gap between me and the habit of regular writing.

      (-: Well, we’ll see. Maybe I do have a regular writing schedule, but it’s just not a very normal one.

      Thanks for the pep talk!

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