How many writers have heard the term, “butt in chair” or “you can’t fix a blank page”? Basically, terms related to the discipline of writing. In order to be productive, to improve, make deadlines, and have a chance at publishing, you have to write. Consistently. Now, I’m not saying I disagree with this. If you want a writing career, you have to create content and do it on a regular basis. I’ve read many a blog post, tweet, and so on talking about this subject. Thinking up ideas is all fine and dandy but it doesn’t do you a bit of good if you don’t get it down on paper. The thing is, not everyone, in my opinion, is built to be productively creative on a daily basis.
The other day, my local writer’s group (Maumee Valley Chapter of Romance Writers of America) was discussing writer burnout. One of our writers presented, who has been struggling with being able to face the page and write. We talked about a lot of things related to being creative, specifically, what affects it in a negative way. Life tends to impinge on a lot of things we like to do, from family to work to our own physical and/or emotional issues. Occasionally, they sap our emotional energies so much that being creative is pretty much impossible. The well is dry. I for one, completely believe in the notion of creativity being a thing that ebbs and flows, a tank that can fill up and run empty. If you are tapped out, putting your butt in the chair is a waste of time.
Yep, I said it. Sometimes writing every day, no matter what, is not the best thing to do. In fact, I think it can be counterproductive. Attempting to force yourself, just putting down words for the sake of putting down words, even if it’s crap and will be edited later, can not only be a waste of time, but have a negative impact. When the mindset isn’t there, you’re better of doing things that will help refill that well of creativity. Sometimes it means just stepping away from writing all together for a time, a day, a week, or even a month. There have been times when I’ve gone two or three months without looking at the blank page. I read, play computer games, spend time with the kids, all manner of things that have little or nothing to do with writing. Sometimes it means dealing with something that is causing stress in my life. Regardless, I’ve come to be comfortable with the fact that it’s okay to not write at times. I’m far more proficient and efficient when the energy is there to do the writing. I’ll know the well is getting full when the ideas start coming up during all times of the day, and more importantly, I want to open up Word and get those words on the page.
So, if the will and energy isn’t there, step away. Don’t frustrate yourself or make yourself feel like less of a writer because you can’t get the words out. Do what you need to get back in a more positive frame of mind, things that relieve stress, and make you feel good about yourself and life in general. Sitting that butt in the chair is far more worthwhile when you have the creavity and fram of mind to do it well.