Writing is difficult. For those of us new to this, or returning to it, just getting into a routine is difficult enough. There will be times when you waver; times when you take two steps backwards rather than one forward, and there will be times when you punish yourself because things aren’t coming easily or you feel things should be moving quicker than they are.I am in just such a place now. Having taken a week off work, I had decided that I would spend a lot of that time writing. That didn’t happen. And worse, the routine that I had been carving out for my writing (and it is like carving. In granite), has rather gone by the wayside on my week back. I don’t really look forward to trying to get back into it, and I feel like I’m so much more behind than I should be, and even further behind than I’d like to be.
Where were you this time last year?
But I’m thinking about it emotionally. As much as strong emotions can spur you on to do great things, they can also hamper your progress, or make you give up all together. So let’s put things into perspective. What was I doing this time last year? It certainly wasn’t writing. I can beat myself up as much as I like, but the fact is that I am writing now. At the very least I am writing these blog entries, and that has got to be better than nothing.
Plus, although I can’t say I’m sticking to my routine rigidly, at least I have one planned out. It is true that when I get up on a Saturday morning to do some writing there is a certain amount of procrastination. I like to fiddle with my website for example, under the thin illusion that this counts as writing because it’s a website on writing. But that space, first thing in the morning, where i can be relatively undisturbed, is at least there, and observed by those I live with. I did not have that before.
Whenever we feel disparaged, it can help to think how far we’ve come. What have you achieved, and what position are you in now that you weren’t in before? You’ve come this far, if only by degrees, so you know that you can get further still. And if you’re in a worse position? Well, you’ve been in a better place, so it stands to reason that you can get there again, doesn’t it?
It’s also a good idea to think about why you are doing this in the first place. If you don’t know, please give it some serious thought. Some people need negative reasons (stuff to get away from), and some people need positive reasons (stuff to reach towards), but it really can’t hurt to have both. For my part, I try to get away from that nasty nagging feeling that this is what I should be doing (by doing it, naturally). I also have some images of what my finished book will look like, and of a vibrant writing community built around this here blog o’ mine.
Visions of your bright future are often a good motivator for people. It might help to have several too, to commemorate future milestones in your writing career, so you have some shorter and longer term images to spur you on. This is more difficult for some people than others, so don’t worry if you don’t immediately buzz with writing energy! I am one of those that find it particularly difficult to generate motivation out of the ether. It just means I have to work harder at it, and remind myself what’s at stake constantly. But it will all be worth it.
All this angst can give you writer’s block. You’re sitting at your computer (or notepad, or typewriter, or papyrus), and all these things are going round in your head, and they are preventing you from getting anything down. In fact, you’re just about to shut your laptop, put away the typewriter and screw up your carefully prepared papyrus roll. But rather than do that, why not write down these positive, motivational images. Use your writing time to motivate yourself. In your next scheduled writing time (you have those, right?) read about how far you’ve come, and what you’re striving for before you begin to write. You may find it helps.