I've been lurking on this sub for awhile and there are a lot of posts that pretty much repeat "How do I write! How do I overcome the block! How do I finish my novel!"
As a career writer (meaning my only job for the last ten years has been writing) I learned something really important when writing became a job and that is… I have to sit down and do it even when I don't feel like it and even when I HATE the thought of doing it.
Now, you may not be a career writer and you may thoroughly dislike the idea of turning writing into a "job" rather than a hobby or a passion that you love.
But, the thing is, if you REALLY want to write your book (or whatever it is you're writing) you need to TREAT it like a job.
That means setting aside a regular chunk of time each and every day — like office hours — and sitting down and churning out content.
The thing is, so many people (and I started out this way as well) romanticize the creative process of writing. They get this image of the thoughtful writer sitting at his desk, in a room smelling of tobacco and brandy, having some supernatural urge to cut his creative artery and bleed this content out onto the paper or else he'll explode. And once he sits down, all of those creative juices come gushing forth in a litany of creative prose, free-flowing, without effort, without constraint. Ah yes — a Spindletop Hill of creative inspiration!
It's this idea that there is always a "drive" pushing you to create.
And it's just not true!
Sometimes I get REALLY excited to write and I can't wait to sit down and do it.
This happens whether I'm writing commercially or for myself.
But I'd say 75% to 80% of the time I DRAG my ass to the chair, open up the laptop with a sigh, start the clock, and start writing and it feels like I'm pulling my teeth out one by one just to suffer through it.
I love the end result just the same way a mother may love the child she just gave birth to (and love that child enough to go through the process of pregnancy and birth again to have one…two…or three more kids!) but I very much doubt the pregnancy period and birth itself is pleasant. Neither — often — is the process of creating a literary work of any kind.
You're not always going to have that "urge" pushing you and I'd even say that you won't have it MOST of the time.
Here's What I Do…
- For research, I set aside a chunk of time. My chunk of time is two hours. I will sit down, start a timer on my phone, close my door, block all social media sites, turn off notifications, close my door, and do my research. Once that two hours is done, I stop. I get up, and I leave my work desk. I do this 7 days a week.
- For writing (which is obviously after the research phase) rather than impose a time-limit, I impose a word limit. My word limit is 1,000 words minimum and 2,500 words maximum. Which means, If I do NOT want to be writing that day, I'll stop at 1,000 words. If I find myself in a flow, I stop at 2,500 words (otherwise I've personally found I get burnt out, even if I'm really enjoying the work that day). I also do this 7 days a week. I have found this takes me about the same two hours.
How do I write when I don't feel like it? Or when I don't know WHAT to write?
There's no other way to say it other than I just "do it anyway."
It is very difficult to write when you don't "feel like it" but the most important thing is to put words down on the page.
And you want to do this WITHOUT going back every sentence or paragraph or page and rewriting what you just wrote.
Always write forward.
Keep writing forward until you're finished THEN go back over everything.
Don't obsess over the way you just worded that last sentence. Don't obsess over if the description on the last page was "good enough" don't obsess over the inconsistency or plothole. You can go back and fix all that shit later, but right NOW you need to write forward.
Obviously everybody is going to have different times they can write, they may want to set different word minimums/maximums and more.
But, the most important thing is to stop looking for that grand spiritual "inspiration" to be your guiding hand as to whether or not you're going to sit down and write today.
That's not a good way to be productive and get things done.
Things get done by just doing the work. And you do the work even though you don't feel like it.
Consistency is more important than inspiration or skill.