Friday, July 9, 2010

A Question for You

Here's a question for all of you who write regularly:

I struggle with trying to write when my head isn't in the story.  Tonight, for example. It's 9:30 p.m., I've been trying to write for the past hour while DH watches TV in the same room, DS isn't even in the bath yet, I'm terribly anxious about my job search, and naturally I can't focus.  My gut says wait until the morning when my mind is fresh, but my conscience says "You've hardly written at all for the past three weeks!"

I can't help wondering how much use it is to do what I think of as "junk" writing when I can't really focus. I expect the result will be just as stale to the reader as it is to me.  I certainly wouldn't try to write a letter, balance the checkbook or plan a lesson in this frame of mind. But I keep hearing successful writers say that one must keep writing no matter what.

So, what do you think?  Have you found that work you did while distracted was worth doing?

(photo courtesy of


  1. Sometimes forcing myself to write turns out well and I end up with something pretty good. Other times what I write needs a lot of editing, or ends up not getting used at all.

    More than anything, though, it sounds like you're burnt out. Try writing something different at least once or twice a week - flash fiction or a poem. It can be related to your story or not. Try sketching a scene or costume from your story. Search a Flickr or a Fotolia for photographs that make you think of your characters or story. Maybe you'll draw new inspiration.

    You've got a lot on your mind right now, so don't torture yourself. Not every day, at any rate. Try participating in Sunday Scribblings, Three Word Wednesday, or Thursday Tales, where you get a writing prompt and share your work with others. It's a lot of fun and has kept me from going mad through my current slump.

    Oh, and can't you find a quiet place to write alone? Or do you just write better with family and TV in the same room? I wouldn't even be able to write my own name!

  2. For me I just don't write unless I am in an inspired mood. That means I don't write all the time, but I still continue to think about the story and make it better in my head.

  3. I agree with what both Bunnygirl and Ted said. I can't write unless it's quiet. Even music distracts me, I can't hear my own thoughts. On those days when I'm just staring at the screen, it's literally hopeless. I end up frustrated and beating myself up, both of which are counterproductive. I still make an effort to sit down in a quiet room with my manuscript. But if it's not coming, I don't force it.

    Good luck with yours! Olivia

  4. I appreciate your comments very much. We live in a very small house and it's extremely difficult to find a quiet place when everyone is home. I could have gone into the basement, I suppose, but I was still monitoring my son and getting him to take his bath.

    I have put off working on this story so much that *not* doing it is just procrastinating at this point. I need to muscle through it and GET IT DONE! I mean, I'm in the fourth year of "revising" now. I need to quit pussyfooting around and just write it.

    I was so afraid of getting a job too quickly, before I was ready to make the transition. Now I'm afraid of not getting a job at all. It's so discouraging not to have any response to my resume. I don't know if I'm overqualified or if I've been out of the biz too long, but I'm not getting any nibbles except for a horrible failed interview earlier in the week.


  5. Oh Christine, I hear you about the job market. I still can't find a job and it's been 3 years.

    As for the writing, you have to decide what you want to do. "The Rules" are made to be broken. If you can find the time to write every day, every other day or once a week, do it. If you can't write, feel distracted, or just want to procrastinate, then do that.

    To me, forcing something (like a stuck door, or a jelly lid, or even writing) tends to make a bigger mess (or gets you hurt) so in the end it's not really worth it. But that's just my opinion.

    For what it's worth, I haven't written in over a month. I even joined a group so I would finish before Labor Day to give me a push and that's not working. I just can't seem to get my act together, so you are definitely not alone.

    I need peace and quiet to write as well. In the summer time, it's just not happening.

    I can hear the frustration in your voice, you just really need to let it go. Take a total break from writing for a week. Clean the house, play with the kids, do something fun, forget about writing...totally. I think you might just need to forgive yourself for not doing it. Once you get past the week, see how you feel. If you want to go back to it, well, it worked, if you don't, then you need to make another decision.

    Sorry for the ramble.

  6. They say the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the professional can do it when he doesn't feel like it.

    I'm an amateur writer; but I try to distinguish between not being in the best frame of mind for writing, and procrastination. Sometimes you just have to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair...

  7. Lexi, that is exactly what I meant. I know that if I am ever going to earn any money from my writing, I have to approach it with a professional attitude. However, the very fact that I'm NOT earning money from it is what makes it so hard to justify putting it as a priority.


I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.