Don’t Force It

During the week, I get up extra early so I can write. I’m a morning person, so getting up at 4:30 AM is not a big deal to me. The key for me is being consistent and having a routine so that I maintain the momentum that is necessary to complete a novel, but I don’t work on a novel every single morning. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, if I’m not in the mood to work on a book, then I write other things, whether it’s a post for this blog or just some random short story or scene that has been bouncing around in my head. Even with that many options, some mornings I just don’t feel it at all. Luckily, those moments are very rare, but they do happen, and that’s when I have to find some other use of my time. If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that I can’t force myself to write just because that’s my routine or schedule. It doesn’t work that way. Some days I’m just not in the writing mood.

So what to do? Reading helps divert my mind into another world and often gets me primed to write again. A writer who doesn’t read won’t be a writer for long. Reading is an essential part of the writing process. You need to learn how other writers are doing it and it’s a great way to discover new ideas or fresh ways of telling the story. I consider reading part of my training and education as a writer, and it’s a great way to use the time when you don’t feel like writing. Besides, I love to read, and it reminds me of why I enjoy writing so much.

Another thing I’ll do when I’m out of sorts is research for my current novel. I’ll admit that I hate taking time away from writing to research even though it is necessary. I often research on the weekends or at other times outside of my writing schedule, but if I don’t feel like writing, then it’s a perfect time to research details for my story. I often make notes in my drafts for things I need to research (another reason I love Scrivener so much) and then, I go back to the story later to fill in the details. My current novel, The Fire Within, has many such notes, so I have plenty of items to research during any idle time I have available.

This is an example of another adjustment I’ve made over the years to get better as a writer. Many years ago, I’d get frustrated when I wasn’t in the writing mood and try to force it. The result wasn’t pretty, which would frustrate me even more and often cause me to stop writing for a while. Before I knew it, years passed and I had nothing to show for it. Now that I’m more flexible, I’m much more productive and happier with the result. The bottom line is that you can’t force the creative process no matter how disciplined you are, so you have to be prepared to adjust to stay on track. it seems counterintuitive, but it works for me.

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