Accepting the Writing Rhythm

At the moment I’m struggling because my head isn’t in the writing game. I have the time to write but not the brain power or inclination. Other things are distracting me – not always bad things (being a committee member for the Huddersfield Literature Festival for one) – but not things that will directly help me get my novel finished. 

Image courtesy of Carroy via Wikimedia Commons

Ever feel like you’re missing something?

However, I think sometimes you just have to accept that writing itself can have it’s own peaks and troughs. Some days you will be on fire and get more than you thought possible done. Other days you might have to drag yourself to the page and sneer at every word written. Such is life. This needs to be accepted. 

I think my lethargy has come from focusing too much on one goal; to finish my novel. I haven’t written any other form of fiction in a long while. My brain is tired of thinking about the same old characters and situations. I need new challenges and a task that will allow my creativity to bloom, rather than fester. 

In addition I’ve got a lot on outside of my writing goals. My workload in my regular job is demanding at the moment and while I may only be part time – leaving me days to write – the length of my to-do list from this ‘day-job’ is constantly playing on my mind. I find myself thinking of how I could save some time at work when I’m in the middle of editing a chapter, or I’m problem-solving how to get my character out of the mess they’re in when suddenly I discover a solution for a work issue instead!

This is the roller-coaster of being a writer. I sometimes forget that writing is a vocation rather than an innate part of who I am. In many ways it’s an occupation like any other – you can have good days and bad days alike. Of course, I think that because writing feels so integral to my personality when I experience the lulls in my productivity I automatically feel guilty for it – when really, this is just the natural rhythm of any applied craft. 

I think it’s important to recognise these moments for what they are and not feel too burdened by the responsibility of a looming deadline that is, for all intents and purposes, self-imposed. Of course, there’s a difference between being legitimately distracted and procrastination but I believe I’ve developed a good enough sense tell the difference by now.

Instead of working on the novel, today I might sketch out some ideas for a new short story. Or I may even read a book. I could watch some television, keeping a close eye on characterisation and plot structure in episodes of my favourite show. Alternatively, I may listen to some music matching emotion to the rhythm of the songs on the radio…

It’s vital to understand that I’m not wasting the day just because my mind isn’t sharp enough to focus on the novel I feel must be completed. If living with M.E has taught me anything, it’s that identifying the signs of a tired mind (or body) and taking a short amount of rest immediately is often more rectifying than over-working and burning out. Such is the writing rhythm, and I can accept this.

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How are you feeling about your writing at the moment? What do you do when you find yourself struggling to commit to your goals? 
Let me know in comments.

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If you are struggling at the moment, for whatever reason, why not check out these blog posts, who advise going about things in a different way:

Irrefutable Law of Success #1 – No Whining by Kristen Lamb

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls by Candace Johnson

A Healthy Approach to Editing a Chaotic Draft: It’s about Mindset
 and

Familiarity breeds contempt: what do writers do when they’re sick of their novel?
both by Victoria Grefer

And a post that sums up what I’m experiencing right now:
Finding the Writing Rhythm by Erin Feldman

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3 responses to “Accepting the Writing Rhythm

  1. Pingback: Vacation: Embracing the Pause That Refreshes | change it up editing

  2. I try to set some long terms goal in writing so that when I have a day or weekend where I just can’t sit down in front of my Mac, I do not feel so guilty. On the other hand, I do try to find some schedule to write, otherwise excuses pile up. It’s a fine line.

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