I’d be more productive if I always felt like writing. This is ironic because before I wrote fulltime, I was always in the mood to write. Storylines popped into my head while I waited on customers. Characters evolved as I placed potatoes and marshmallows in my shopping cart. But now that writing is my day job, I find that I’m rarely in the mood to sit down and write.
What happened? Just because I changed careers it’s suddenly okay to stop working because I’m not in the mood? What lame excuse is that? I was a bank officer for many years and not once did I call my boss and say, “I’m not in the mood to come to work today.”
Writing is my job, not my hobby, and books don’t write themselves, even though many days I wish they would. So I’ve found a way to write when I don’t feel like working. Maybe some of these tricks will help you write when you’re not in the mood.
1. Listen to music. Days when writing words is like pulling weeds, I turn on Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System and place my fingers on the keyboard. Within ten minutes I’ve forgotten that I’m not in the mood to write, and soon my fingers are flying across the keyboard.
2. If I’m having a really uncreative day, I light a candle—something light and airy to help me relax and put me in a more creative mood.
3. I allow my self ONE game of spider solitaire, and then I start writing. I cannot play another game of solitaire UNTIL I have met my word count for the day.
4. When I go to bed at night, I decide what I will work on the next day. I’ll know what distractions I have to attend to (doctor appointments, etc.) and plan accordingly. Then, when I get up the next morning I know what I have to accomplish that day.
5. I try to exercise regularly. I feel better when I’m exercising, and handle stress better when I feel good, which makes writing easier on days I don’t want to write.
6. I schedule my writing time. Generally, I can squeeze out one thousand words in an hour if I allow myself no distractions. If I set myself a goal of three thousand words, I know I must schedule three hours of writing time to meet that goal. Writing time, not computer time, and then I write until I’ve met my word count.
7. I work on more projects than one at a time, and often I feel overwhelmed, which puts me in a lousy mood. To combat this, I’ve started making daily and weekly to-do lists. The story due by the end of the week is listed as number one. The article or essay I want to write before the end of the month is listed as number two. The novel that I’m working on is number three. I give myself assignments. The urgent work gets priority, which makes it easier to meet deadlines.
8. I try to write every day. If I miss a day, I find it’s harder to get back into my story. Writing is like playing the piano. My work is better when I practice, and often I find that the mere act of writing puts me in a more creative mood.
9. If I get stalled at the beginning of a story, I work on a different scene, anything to get my fingers moving. Author and screenwriter Robert McKee advises to write from the inside out. I don’t always have to start at the beginning. I can start in the middle, or even at the end.
10. I try to eliminate distractions like the Internet, radio and TV. My mind works better when it isn’t cluttered with a bunch of mindless noise.
11. I remind myself that I’m a professional. Professionals work no matter what their mood. And then I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do what I love.
What do you do to get into the mood to write?