Sometimes I don’t feel like writing, even though it’s how I love to spend my spare time. That sounds contradictory, but there’s a lot to it. It’s 11PM, and I’m brain-dead tired. I’ve worked all day, helped with homework, cooked, cleaned, exercised, and prepared for the following day, which will begin before dawn. I usually look back at my day and ask myself how many words I wrote, knowing the answer will be less than what I wanted to accomplish. I wonder, for about 30 seconds, why I can’t squeeze out a few more paragraphs before I finally sleep. Then my alarm clock is buzzing its infernal song.
Since I’ve started actively pursuing a writing career, I’ve come in contact with communities of other writers. A lot of them work and have family responsibilities, just like me. The difference is that they seem to have finished multiple books, find time to promote their works, and still continue working on new projects. When do they sleep? Some likely don’t. Most power through their days and continue writing once they’re back home from their jobs. One has written a book about writing novels in 10-minute intervals each day. (Note to self: buy that sucker.)
The struggle to find time to write prevented me from seriously writing anything for a long time. Once my son got older, I found more free time; however, I filled that free time with things other than writing: TV, video games, reading, napping. The fight was over, and it felt great to just relax, catch up on sleep, and vegetate. Writing was hard enough back when I had hours to do it and think about it in quiet solitude. Scrambling to find a few minutes here and there, to jot some things down in a notebook, was not how I envisioned writing to be for me. It made writing a chore, one more thing to try to fit into my day before sweet oblivion pulled me into my pillow. I didn’t look forward to the creative process, the fulfillment of my ideas, or even the grueling editing like I used to.
Then something happened. It wasn’t miraculous or inspiring. It wasn’t even an original idea. I made myself write. I started with my lunch break at work, realizing that I had nearly an hour of writing time if I brought lunch from home and could write while chewing. I eased into it, writing whatever came to mind, sometimes not finishing anything. I just wrote like scratching words on paper was going to diffuse a bomb before the end of my lunch hour. It was desperate, frantic, exhilarating. It became a craving every day, more necessary than my food on occasion. I could type it when I got home, in the brain-dead evening hours, and in 15-minute intervals. I could puzzle out difficult plot points during my commutes and commit them to memory until I could write them down.
Occasionally, like today, I’ve had a fairly quiet house to myself. Today has been very productive on the writing front, but there have been days of free time when I haven’t written a word. Even though I knew I would kick myself when it was over for wasting a whole day, why couldn’t I get any writing done? Sometimes when I don’t feel like writing, I really should just listen to that feeling. It takes some introspection, to know if I’m being lazy or if I’m going to spin my wheels, without accomplishing anything other than frustration. Giving myself leave to watch a movie or waste a couple of hours on the game console can be productive for my writing. It’s energizing, and it can enable me to let go of my day job or other stresses, so my mind can stumble its way back into a creative mode again.
That desire to write isn’t every really absent. Sometimes it’s just hidden amidst the clutter of other stuff in my mind. Often it’s waiting impatiently to be freed from the weight of distractions, by indulging in more stimulating activities, many that people find to be distractions themselves. I really always want to write, even when I feel like I can’t, and sometimes forcing the writing is counterproductive.