I’m writing this blog post on Saturday, the day I planned to reorganize all my bathroom cabinets. I woke up this morning and decided I don’t feel up to it. Rather than beat myself up for a bad case of ennui, I holed up in my office to write instead. I may not have had the inspiration to do the big thing, but I’m doing something that feels comfortable– connecting. I’m guessing there are many of you who are struggling with those “don’t feel up to it” blahs in these unusual times, so I wanted to suggest some ways to keep moving ahead in spite of how you feel.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
These are unparalleled times for our world with the advent of the Coronavirus and the resultant quarantines and social distancing. Children are home with no regular school. Many adults are off work or working at home which causes a whole ‘nuther kind of upheaval. Foodstuffs and necessities may be in short supply requiring us to be ever more creative. If regular breadwinners are furloughed, financial troubles may be overwhelming. And not just current troubles but worry over the future can upend us. It’s no wonder we sometimes look at the task before us and decide “I don’t feel up to it.” That’s okay. Let’s put our heads together and come up with some workarounds.
If You’re Not on Deadline
If you should be writing but you don’t feel up to it, consider some of these alternatives:
- Consider reorganizing your files– computer or file cabinet files. You know you’ve looked at them time after time and known you need to add an “obsolete” file to every project so you only see relevant files. And do you have each project in a separate file with all material pertaining to that project in one place?
- How about your office. Could it take a cheery new coat of paint? Many home improvement stores are offering free delivery. Nothing raises our spirits quite like a beautiful place in which to work. That’s one of the reasons I came into my office this morning instead of tackling a messy challenge. This room is near perfect. I love being in here.
- How about reorganizing some of the research for your latest book? If you are a nonfiction writer, you might be up to tackling the “further reading” page or the footnotes pages if you’re not feeling creative. Those are tasks that must be done and what better time to do it when life is offering you a little extra time.
- This might be the time to just throw a blanket on the grass, look up to the sky and let your mind play with new ideas. Don’t mistake dreaming time or brainstorming time as unproductive. For a writer it is where the magic happens.
- Even if you don’t feel like it, you might want to sit down at the keyboard and instead of writing the next chapter outlined in your synopsis, write an outrageous scene that could never actually go into the book. You might just come up with a delightful new twist and have fun in the process.
- Watch movies, not just for the fun of it but as a writer. Cynthia Ruchti wrote a great blog post on the value of watching bad movies for the writer.
- Read! Nothing gets our juices flowing like opening a book and falling into the story. Reading is some of the most important work we do.
If You Are on Deadline
If you are on a tight deadline, you don’t have the same leeway. Here are some ideas to help you keep writing, even when you don’t feel up to it:
- Enlist the help of everyone in the house to help you keep on deadline. One child might be in charge of keeping track of your daily word count on a chart he or she made. Another child might be the one to bring you coffee during set coffee breaks. Your spouse could volunteer (with a little encouragement) to prepare meals with the children. Wouldn’t it be perfect to dedicate that book with love and gratitude to your Coronavirus crew?
- If you are alone (or nearly alone) on this writing journey arrange for an accountability partner– someone you can report to each evening.
- Take breaks to call or FaceTime friends to break up the writing if you are the type of writer who can break and still get back to it.
- If you are the type of writer who needs to write with no interruption, make yourself a bag lunch or gather snacks near your workplace and keep nose down until you get your word count for the day. Then, celebrate. Call friends. Order something online.
- Stay off the news and perhaps off social media. The grim reports can derail us in this time. Your knowing all the details won’t change a thing.
- It is far better to schedule time for Bible reading and prayer than to stay glued to the news.
- If, you don’t feel up to it, approach your regular quiet time in a different way. When things are confusing or discouraging, I often just take my fountain pen and my journal and copy whole Psalms into it. The Psalms are a mix of exhilarating praise and the deepest, darkest moans of the soul. Writing them is a different form of praise and prayer.
- Stay connected to everyone you love and everyone who loves you. Write letters that can be kept forever. Pick up the phone. Gather friends or family for a video conference.
- Remember that your writing buddies and your agent are here for you.
I said we would put our heads together. Now it is your turn to keep adding to this blog. What do you do when you just plain don’t feel up to it?