Why You Shouldn’t Force Yourself To Write…But Also Why You Should

Let me tell you something about writing; it comes in waves. Like boy does it ever come in waves. I’ll either find myself absolutely engulfed in my work to the point of oblivion (like really, the house could be on fire and I’d never notice), or I don’t want to touch a keyboard ever again in my whole entire life. There is rarely an in between.

But when there is an in between, it’s because I’ve made myself sit at my desk with my laptop open to the last page I was working on. As if somehow that will spark the creativity, the inspiration, the desire, but sometimes I end up staring blankly at the screen as the curser blinks like “HA…HA…YOU…SUCK…”

But if you’re like me and you’re trying to treat your writing as a sort of job, or something that you have to do or should be doing, then you’ll feel the pain of knowing you need to write, but being unable to. However, in today’s easily distracting age, you have to learn to tell the difference between being unable to write, and being unwilling to. There is a difference, and it can be sort of important.

How To Force Yourself

First of all, don’t make yourself write if any of the following applies:

  1. You are sick – dude take it easy. If you’re literally ill, and the prospect of sitting up and trying to make your brain work while your body tries to heal makes you groan, DON’T. Consider it calling in sick to work, right? Take some medication if you can, pop Netflix on, and take care of YOU. The characters will still be there in the morning, the next day, the next week. Whatever. THIS ALSO GOES FOR MENTAL ILLNESS BY THE WAY. IT IS ABSOLUTELY 100% VALID TO NOT WORK ON YOUR ART WHEN YOU ARE ANXIOUS, DEPRESSED, HAVING ANY VARIETY OF EPISODE, WHAT HAVE YOU, OKAY? GOOD. ❤
  2. Someone else in your life is sick – If someone relies on you, or even if you should be focused on somebody else right now, it’s okay not to be working. While writing, as I said above, might be like a job, your life around that should take priority. This is how I feel about any job, to be honest. If there are circumstances that would make working either unproductive, stressful, or flat out impossible, DON’T.
  3. You are exhausted from your “regular” job – I have spent days at my day job desperate to get home so I can write. My fingers are itching, my mind is antsy, but by the time I get to my desk or my bed or my couch…I flat out can’t anymore. My head is not in it, I’m tired, I just want to stare at a TV screen or snuggle my dog. This is justifiable. Like the first two points, life gets in the way a lot, but you have to take care of yourself first. If you’re brain is like a mud puddle, DON’T.

If none of these apply (and I mean there are probably other exceptions which I’m sure you can justify to your given circumstances), then give it a try! Set yourself up wherever is most comfortable/productive/inviting. Whether you’ve been sitting on the couch, scrolling the internet, or out for a while with some friends or running errands…just try.

That’s the best advice I can give for forcing yourself to write. Try. No one says you have to crank out a masterpiece every time you sit down, so why not give it a shot? Why not groan through it and go, “Guess I should do some writing,” just to see what might happen? Wondering if you should is your worst enemy. “Should I try to write?” YEAH DUH. Nine times out of ten I find myself unwilling to write literally just because I feel unprepared or like it’s an effort or like it will be bad. So what if it is? Try. Just try. Nothing will happen if you don’t.

While there’s a pretty high percentage of times where I find myself staring at that blinking asshole of a curser and getting nowhere, there are also those glorious times where suddenly I start with one sentence, and my fingers keep going. I made myself sit down, I made myself read the last paragraph or so that I’d worked on, and suddenly ah there it is success! Trying could lead to failure, sure, but trying also leads to success. I wrote a whole novel because of this principle. Just. TRY.

How To Know It’s Not Working?

Good question, internet. My usual sign is if I’ve made myself get up, if I’ve made myself stare at the document in question, and I’m still sitting there blankly. If there isn’t even a sentence, isn’t even a goal, then that probably means it’s not going to happen today. Which is ALLOWED, by the way. You are ALLOWED to just not be creative for a freaking day, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be creative again, it just means hey…not today.

The other sign is if I’m sitting there and brainstorming. If the document is open, and it’s ready and waiting for the story to unfold, but I’m too busy crafting it and planning it in my head, it usually means I’m not ready to write it down. It means I might need to outline a bit more before I’m ready to construct. If this happens, I’ll do just that. I’ll put on some music, grab my  notebook, and think it through. That way I’ve felt somewhat productive, and it helps me get out of my head so I can hear what my partner just said to me, or realize my dog is chewing up a pillow.

So In Conclusion…?

If you’re not feeling 100% crap, and you have the actual ability to write but maybe just don’t want to but feel like you should…try. Whether it’s cracking a fresh document open, working on something in progress, or even just getting down some jot notes so you’ll be ready in the future, do something. Do anything. Just try.

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