You don’t feel like it. You’d rather clean the toilet or mow the lawn (come to think about it, mine is looking a bit unkempt … now you’ve got me started!)
The first thing to realise is this situation is completely normal – you’re not the only one and you’re in very successful company. But having said that, you don’t want this to carry on forever otherwise, well, nothing gets written does it?
So what do you do? Here are some quick and easy ways to get going.
Do a little bit
Time yourself to write for just half an hour. By committing only to a little bit, it feels less daunting. At the end of half an hour, give yourself full permission to walk away from the keyboard; on the other hand, if you’re in full flow, carry on. It’s amazing how often that happens.
Here’s my 15 minute timer, it’s flowing as we speak:
Discipline and reward
Many years ago, the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld created a writing system for himself which he called ‘Don’t Break the Chain’. It was very simple. In January each year, he would stick a huge year planner on his office wall, and for each day that he wrote new material he would mark a big, fat rewarding X. After a series of consecutive days’ writing, the Xs ran into a chain. He made it his goal never to break the chain.
Now you’d think as an internationally successful comedian, Jerry could afford to take the odd day off. But no, he kept going every day, because when he saw a day without a cross it wasn’t a good day.
What could be your chain?
Maybe your local coffee shop is more relaxing to write in and gives you a different perspective. Or how about taking your laptop out into the garden, or your living room? Being outside may also have the added advantage having no wifi to distract you.
Do some warm up exercises
Creative juices can be tricky to turn on and off at will, and doing some creative writing exercises will improve your writing whether you’re motivated or not. See this article from Author Unlimited for some practical, non fiction writing creative prompts.
Remember the times your writing has flown for you in the past
This is a lovely, self indulgent exercise. Flip back on the blog posts which got you lots of interested comments (whether in the blog itself or on your social media platforms), and think back on the times when you’ve really enjoyed your writing. Underlying a lot of worries about writing is doubt: not being sure you can do it, or if you’re any good. You’ve done it before, so you can do it again.
Dream of your goals
What’s your book going to do for you? Skyrocket your sales, help more people, bring you more speaking gigs, elevate you to the position of go-to expert in your niche? That won’t happen if you don’t write it, so let that dream motivate you to get going.
Do it anyway
My favourite. If we waited until we were in the right mood before we did anything, how slowly would our lives progress? What would we achieve? There will be countless times when you will have just got on and ‘done it’ even though you didn’t feel in the mood, so why would writing be any different?
Sure, it’s lovely to think of typing away feeling blissfully happy and inspired, but we all know that life isn’t always like that – in fact we’re lucky to get the odd moment! If you’d like to lighten the mood, check out Neil Gaiman’s advice to those who can’t get their thoughts on paper. Tell me when you’ve swallowed your berry :)
And did I say just get on with it? I did? OK I’d better follow my own advice and start ghostwriting the next chapter of my client’s book then. See you later.
What works for you when you’re not in the mood for writing? Do share so we can all learn from you.