. . . write today. I don’t feel like it. I haven’t been feeling like it for a couple of weeks now.
As parents, we often hear our children say “but I don’t want to” do whatever is required of them at that moment. It might be cleaning their room, completing their homework, performing chores around the house. It might be something as seemingly simple as going to school on a Monday morning. We’ve all heard the whining, groaning, complaining. “But I don’t waaaaaaaaant to, Mom.”
What do you do if you feel that way about writing?
The answer depends, of course, upon whether we are talking about a professional writing assignment or simply writing for your own blog. If, like me, you blog merely for fun, entertainment and to have a creative outlet, there are no draconian consequences associated with taking a break.
For awhile, I was a member of team blog devoted to the topic of writing. I considered that a professional commitment, even though I volunteered my services. So that meant that I had an obligation to deliver one post per week. My personal value system mandated that I provide the best quality content I could.
Sure, I could have e-mailed the other team members and said, “I don’t have a post this week. Could you publish something for me?” I could even have told them that I don’t feel well enough to write today which would not be entirely untrue since I do have a couple of physical issues, including a middle ear infection, that have adversely impacted my ability to approach this task with enthusiasm.
In fact, because I’ve been a bit under the weather this weekend, I spent some time doing something I virtually never do. I actually sat and watched television — HBO’s new series, “in Treatment,” to be exact. It stars Gabriel Byrne, Dianne Wiest and Blair Underwood. I have long been a fan of all three and am particularly enamored with Gabriel Byrne, who gives an absolutely mesmerizing performance. If you were a fan of “The Sopranos” in part because of the scenes with Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano’s shrink, and Peter Bogdanovich who portrayed Dr. Melfi’s therapist, Elliott Kupferberg, you will love the full episodes centered around Byrne’s treatment with his former supervisor, played by Wiest. Their tumultuous professional history is a multi-layered back story that gives context and depth to the issues about which Byrne decides to resume therapy.
If you are a fiction writer looking for inspiration or new story ideas, the characters portrayed “in Treatment” might very well provide plenty of both.
I decided to use the way I’m feeling tonight and my own general writing lethargy of the past couple of weeks to illustrate this point: Writers write. Period. They write whether they feel like it or not. They write for a wide variety of reasons, sometimes motivated by the need to put bread on the table, sometimes by the fact that they have made a commitment and refuse to dishonor it. Sometimes they write because, as I am proving even as I type these words, the very act of doing something you didn’t feel like doing in the first place can pull you out of the doldrums and help you regain your enthusiasm for the task.
Opening up a browser window, logging in, and working on this entry is already proving therapeutic for me. The creative juices are beginning to flow again and ideas for blog posts are swirling in my head. Perhaps my slump is coming to an end.
So in other words, what’s the best thing you can do when you find yourself saying “but I don’t want to”?