There are some days when I really don’t feel like writing. But the work has to be finished anyway. Sometimes I plug away and get through the day on sheer will. Sometimes it’s more of a struggle and all I can think about is making it to quitting time.
Fortunately these long, exhausting days aren’t the norm. Maybe I committed to too much because a project ran longer than expected. Or perhaps a project is simply boring me to tears and the thought of writing another word seems unbearable. Rare. But it happens. And I know I’m not the only writer who has to push themselves to write when they don’t feel like it from time to time. So I thought we could exchange tips and tools that help us get through these long days of writing. Here are mine:
- Coffee – I know not everyone is a fan of coffee, or caffeinated drinks in general. But being someone who has absolutely no ill effects from it (or withdrawal) and someone who loves the taste, it’s a must for me most mornings. Sure, it helps to perk me up a little bit. But that’s not even the real reason I drink it. Something about the smell and warmth actually calms me down at the same time. And it’s that mellow start to the day that lets my mind focus squarely on writing and not the million other worries vying for my attention.
- Lists – I praise to-do lists a lot here. And it’s for good reason. I couldn’t get through a day without them. White boards, index cards of all sizes, computer files, my phone — they’re all filled with a variety of to-do lists, from long-term projects to daily tasks. On days when I don’t feel like writing, these lists are particularly motivational. It’s much easier to think in terms of small tasks than large projects. I can usually convince myself to do one or two quick things for the gratification of being able to cross them off my list. And in many cases that’s enough to force my head back into the game and I make more progress than planned.
- Timers – Even if I don’t feel like writing an entire article or Web copy for the bulk of a new site, I can surely handle 25 minutes of writing, right? So I visit my favorite online timer (e.ggtimer.com) or I set up my Pomodoro app and I push myself hard for those 25 minutes. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?” I almost always end up asking myself. “I bet I can squeeze in one more.” And I do. That cycle doesn’t always get me through an entire day. But by forcing me to focus and making work feel more like a personal challenge, I usually get done more than I would have by simply sitting in front of the computer hoping the urge to write would strike.
In a worst-case scenario, I have a fail-safe. I just find something to do that would bore me even more than the project I’m trying to avoid. As my hubby would happily attest, I don’t handle boredom very well. If working on a somewhat dreaded project alleviates the boredom associated with an even more dreaded task (like cleaning the bathrooms), it’s amazing how appealing it can suddenly become.
What about you? How do you get through a long day of writing when you’d rather be doing just about anything else? If you have any tricks or tips to share, leave a comment and tell us about it.