I’m pretty sure you know exactly what I mean if I talk about having days when laziness and lack of creative ideas keep you from working on something, anything. Not just for writers of course, but for creative people in general this is a big deterrant.
Some people are of the super-disciplined school of “I sit at my desk at 6am everyday and write for blah-blah hours and then for shitswizzle hours more! That’s all there is to it!”
I suppose they could be right – I mean as much as I’m loathe to publicly admit it, I have over the years developed a greater respect for having a degree of discipline. Not necessarily for all things in life and very rarely calling for the kind of militaristic approach to discipline that many people assume when you hear the word.
My advice for this creative-ennui, this blankness is based more on personal experience so I suppose it’s more anecdotal experience than advice – but you take it as you will.
Something I learned after wasting a lot of time over the years, was that if that kind of laziness/procrastination ever happens, just step away from what is NOT working and sit down and just start on something else.
Look back through projects that are in-progress or just doodle some sketches to fill a page and day-dream for a short while (I like to put a small alarm on my phone, loosely marking my “break time”) until the break helps a new idea strikes or helps dissipate the previous mindset.
Maybe even go back to a note you may have made about a possible idea or a correction you dreamt up as you were falling asleep about changing something you had been working on. In case it wasn’t obvious, I do this last one a lot – it’s almost embarrassing how many notes and little scraps of ideas I’ve collected over the years. Someday they’ll see the light of day if I can keep focussed on putting ideas out and fleshing them out at least a little.
What I love about this is that I have a lot of random ideas that I note down in my little idea-book and on loose scraps but I found that sometimes just the concepts are not enough, sometimes there was a tone, a scene between potential characters who dont even have names yet and such that I want to hang on to – so, I write it as a scene, as a short story, as just a quick little narrative. Why? Because if I come back to that concept ever, I have a starting point beyond just bullet points + if I don’t ever do it, at least I got a short story and that much time spent constructively writing done.
Personally in the last couple of months, I am obsessed with Evernote. I store so many random ideas there, from character names to concepts to pictures I see online that inspire an idea – basically anytime something tickles my fancy, even if it’s the middle of the night, I just click open my phone/laptop and scribble it into evernote.
The result is that anytime, anywhere, I have a ready basket of ideas that came to me sometime or other to sift through to see if something flips that light-bulb switch. Thereafter I might tweak and develop a particular idea some more or add something to a work in progress or maybe just start a new short piece that otherwise was just 4-lines of a rough idea.
Seriously, think about it – why would I blog? I share nothing but randomness here, things that amuse, some bursts of short fiction, reviews of books and comics, some bits of news that caught in my mind, tech info that fascinated me… it’s just me sitting down to write something that was on my mind. Does it pay me or help make me a writer? Most people wouldn’t think so but if I can write a certain amount everyday, if I can write on a variety of things and keep evolving, like all things, I grow and change. What I wrote at age 20 is quite different from what I write today – some for better, some for worse, but like any skill, I do feel that my ability to write has gotten better the more I write and the more I let people read and critique me.
Fear IS the mind-killer. Fear is that little worm in the back of your mind that makes you lazy, that whispers doubt, that helps rationalise and reason and stop you from being more than you can because it’s not an outside evil, it’s just you and me being afraid to share a part of ourselves that terrifies us – what if people laugh? Well fuck them, if you feel like sharing, share, the beauty of the internet I’ve found is that it’s remarkable how you can find people of all tastes and interests around if you look so don’t be afraid to explore below the surface either.
When you are making time to write, then just fucking WRITE. It actually doesn’t always matter what, just write something, even if it’s something no one might give two shits about, not even you once you’re done. Just get it out. The rest of your day, do what you have to, but try and develop some sort of a discipline to just write at certain demarcated times.
I know, it’s painful. I still struggle with it. A lot. Everyday almost.
I know it runs contrary to every concept and image of a writer and their muse and divine inspiration and being undisciplined and chaotic and passionate and having those moments of genius.
Truth is you can have all that anyway, but even if it’s just one hour out of twenty-four, just sit your ass down and write something, anything. Despite all my struggles, it’s been a boon because I feel better, like a release valve before the pressure backed up in my brain and next time it’s easier to sit and do this – this post is no different by the way, just me opening that valve in my brain on a topic that tickled my mind at this moment.
Even if it’s 500 words on how fucking bored you are and hate your life and are feeling creatively blocked or how no one understands your genius or rewriting every nursery rhyme you can remember or even just a list of insults and swear-words. You’ll be surprised that at least once every couple of times or even every time if you’re lucky, just letting yourself put pen to paper/finger to keyboard will help the words flow.
Just write, everyday, for whatever length you decide is your daily quota and meet it.