Today’s post is an excerpt from Ready, Set, Write: A Guide to Creative Writing. This is from a chapter titled “Doing the Work,” which focuses on writing when you’re not in the mood.
Doing the Work
When you experience a burst of inspiration that leads to a satisfying writing session, the results are exhilarating. Whether you’ve gotten some thoughts and feelings off your chest, written a piece that you think might be publishable, or taken a giant step forward with your work in progress, you are likely to feel elated.
Maybe you came up with an exciting opening scene. Maybe you crafted a poem that makes you feel like a laureate. Maybe you put the finishing touches on an essay that you’re certain will win hearts and minds.
Your words flowed. Sentences chimed. Ideas tumbled out with ease. It was not only enjoyable—it was fun; you had a good time.
But writing will not always be fun.
Sometimes, you won’t feel like writing. This can last an hour, a day, a month, even years. Other times, you’ll hit a point in your project that is anything but enjoyable. You’ll slog through sentences and groan through revisions. And other times, whether the words flowed or not, the writing you produce will leave you feeling disappointed.
You might start to question whether you should have taken up writing in the first place: Maybe writing isn’t for you. Maybe it doesn’t fit your schedule or lifestyle. Maybe there are other hobbies you’d rather pursue, other activities that you’ll be better at doing. Maybe you don’t have what it takes. Maybe writing is just too hard. Maybe it’s a big waste of time.
Here’s what you need to know: This happens to all of us. Every writer experiences doubts. Every writer questions their abilities. Every writer wonders whether a project is truly worthy of their time and energy. Every writer hits bumps in the road.
And for many writers, these challenges don’t disappear with time and experience. These same misgivings are just as likely to arise while you’re drafting your tenth novel as they are during your first.
The difference between a writer and a would-be writer is that writers understand and accept that everything in life has ups and downs. Whether it’s a job, a hobby, or a relationship, there will be high points and low points.
Writers write through the low points. They figure out a way to work through the difficulties. They do the work.
Do you walk away from your writing when you’re not in the mood or when you’re not producing your best work? Have you ever pushed yourself to write even when you didn’t feel like it or when the work was difficult? How do you respond when a piece of writing doesn’t turn out the way you wanted?