Nearly every guidebook or advice from an author mentions that you should write each day, regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Is this good advice though? I’ll be honest—there are days I don’t want to write but to read instead, and when you are on a mission to finish a chapter or a book there is no way I want to stop to write for the sake of it because a guidebook tells me that’s what writers should do.
Often I write a blog post or in my journal, but there are days when all I have done is made a few Facebook comments. Does that count? To be frank, I don’t care. I mean, who is going to keep track of whether you wrote today or not? When I did try to follow this advice, and I returned to what I had written, it really was not fit to be seen anywhere else. All I could think of was the precious pen ink I had wasted, so now I only write on a whim and when I feel the passion because only then will you want to write, and it may turn out half decent.
Forcing yourself to write when you aren’t in the mood is like telling a teenager to sweep the floor when they aren’t in the mood and want to go and see their friends. You can guarantee they won’t do a good job and will feel resentful. Sometimes a break is good because you can get too obsessed with grammar and punctuation rather than the actual content and dialogue. However, is demotivation the same as Writer’s Block? Not quite, because at times you can feel it’s too much with plots overlapping or you want to change a character or kill them off, but that means having to change chapters around and you need time to figure it all out. It’s like planning a different world and that needs time to adjust things.
That’s the stage I’m at, but I’m adding some characters and adjusting the plot slightly in the saga I am working on. I say that in the knowledge it may change the framework of the book, and I’m excited and scared at the same time. Excited because I like the new twist, and scared because I hope it all works out.
I did have some nice news, a reader sent me an email after reading one of my books and thanked me for writing it, and that they appreciated my honest style of writing. It has encouraged me to dig out an old WIP connected with the book series that I had left archived on my desktop. That was my cue to revisit it and get back to work. In the meantime I have written a couple of short stories (one and a half gel pens used up) and that was on a whim. It probably needs a lot of editing and rewriting, but I sat and wrote them back to back in three days and am quite happy with the results although the endings may change. As much as I like happy endings, sometimes you have to leave that to the imagination of the reader.
Which is better; writing on a whim or writing everyday whether you want to or not? I love writing so forcing myself to write is like making myself to eat chocolate cake when I am feeling sick, and I love chocolate cake. (When you enjoy something then it must give you pleasure and not lead you with feelings of dread.) It doesn’t work for everyone, and you can tell from the writing what kind of mindset the writer was in when they penned something.
I have written when I have been melancholy and it’s dark. Some may find it fascinating, and may even consider it some of my best work. I, on the other hand have found when I have forced myself to write, cringing at the words when I read them back. If anything it deters me and sets me back. My time would have been better spent baking a cake or doing the laundry. There’s a reason why not all good books aren’t written in a matter of days, it’s because the writer has to be in the right frame of mind when they are crafting their work. Remember, it’s quality and not quantity that matters, and a few pages of excellent writing is better than hundreds of pages of drivel, plus there is the enjoyment factor. If you don’t enjoy what you are writing, how do you expect others to derive any pleasure from it either?