self-publishing · writing

Writing when you’re not in the mood

You’ve got a target, a deadline, an assignment due, a draft that needs to be sent off… but you’re staring out the window, or doing anything but writing what you’re meant to be writing. Cleaning your house. Doing the dishes. Hey, that laundry basket has a few things in it, I should do a load of laundry. Oh, I haven’t updated my blog for a few days, or called my grandma or looked up a random historical person on wikipedia in a few hours, or… you know the drill.

I struggle with this. I am an expert procrastinator at the best of times. Combine stress or a bad mood (or both) and well, not a lot gets done.

I was having a bad day yesterday. Right down in the dumps. I had planned on finishing off my draft. Another 4000-6000 words. My family visitor left to go home late in the morning. I had a good solid three or four hours until The Lovely Boyfriend was due home.

What did I do? Watched a heart-breaking documentary on Youtube about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Then to cheer myself up I watched some Avatar:  The Last Airbender. Then it was 6pm before I knew it and i had to cook dinner. Somewhere in there I also decided it would be a good idea (it wasn’t) to go back through my personal Livejournal blog and read my posts on self-publishing and writing. That made me depressed. I discovered and seriously started thinking about and planning releases back in mid-2012. Two and a half years ago. Each year I plan and intend to have a productive year and write 4-6 of the novels that are bouncing around my mind. Some of them have been there for over a decade. I felt really shitty about myself for only publishing one novella in those two and a half years. I could have 10-15 books out by now if I cut all the procrastination out! I started beating myself up mentally, that I hadn’t achieved anything. Then I looked down and saw Educational Psychology – one of my text books from last year – and reminded myself that I hadn’t exactly done nothing… I had completed a Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching, and only 4 subjects away from my Masters of Teaching. And I’d worked full time the year and a half before that. And I’d moved countries. Anyway. Tried to give myself a bit of a pep talk, but I couldn’t really shake the bad mood. Writing fiction is what I want to do with my life, not teaching or technical writing or working in a cafe or a callcentre… I’m never going to be a writer if I don’t actually write anything.

I cooked dinner in a surly mood. Tried not to snap at The Lovely Boyfriend. We watched an episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and somehow that helped lift my mood a bit. Maybe because I felt like I’d learned something.

I was still mucking around a bit on the computer though, not focusing on my story. I think I was sitting on a measly 120 words for the day by the time The Lovely Boyfriend retired to bed.

I almost went to bed as well, telling myself I’d get up early and write ALL THE WORDS (this never actually happens). But I got stern with myself and told my recalcitrant self that I wasn’t allowed to go to bed until I’d hit 500 words. Then when I reached 500 words, I upped it to 1000. I wrote 1102 before I followed TLB to bed and felt much better for it.

It’s 6pm here now, and I’m sitting on a bit over 1000 words again. I don’t know where today has gone. Flittered away in a stream of procrastination. Watching the rainbow lorikeets fight over the next-door neighbours plum tree is kind of nice though.

But I really, seriously do need to finish off this draft tonight (before 9am tomorrow at the VERY VERY ABSOLUTE LATEST! Once I get going, I know it will be fine. Why do I struggle to get going so often?

What are your strategies to deal with this kind of thing?

I’m about to turn off the internet for a few hours, and try to refrain from doing any cleaning. We’ll see how it goes!

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