I really don’t want to write today. Not because I don’t have anything that’s exciting me enough to write about it, but because I simply don’t feel like it today. And I don’t like that thought because I really love writing and hate days like these when I feel an aversion to it. I just don’t want to write today.
But I will because not writing means breaking my writing streak – the force that keeps me bringing back to the screen to write more words and put out another story or blog post into the world, even if that world is limited by the edges of a computer folder.
Write I will, even if it means putting out procrastinated, boring words that don’t go anywhere.
February started off so well–I wrote more than a thousand words every day for three days in a row, writing more than two thousand words on the second day. My current daily word count goal is 900 words, which is almost twice the number of words I wrote when I started writing every day in April 2016.
Now we’re one day away from the middle of February, and my writing has only gone downhill since those first few fiery days. I started keeping a writing log, first erratically in January, and then regularly after that. After my daily writing session, I note down the date, the number of words written, what I wrote about (was it a story? A blog post? What was the story or blog post about, and so on).
I also note down what inspired the piece, whether the idea developed as I wrote it, what I feel about the piece (is it any good? does it have some potential which can be increased by some polishing and revision?), what the flow was like (did the words come easily? Or did I have to push myself to stop procrastinating and put down the next word?), and whether I enjoyed the writing.
I started the log inspired by John Steinbeck, who kept a journal exclusively for recording the progress of The Grapes of Wrath (I came across it on Austin Kleon’s Tumblr. The journal is available as a book), and I am so glad I did because not only is it fun, it also helps me be accountable to myself.
Last year when we moved house, I allowed myself an exception for the first time since I started writing every day. I was so tired that I let myself write a mere 100 words and call it a day. It took hardly ten minutes and I went to bed knowing that I had let the flame of my streak burn and so I had to show up at the table the next day.
Although it was needed very badly that day, I still felt guilty about that exception when I looked back upon it in my diary and promised myself that I would never do it again except under very exceptional circumstances – couldn’t think of any at that point.
But that promise wasn’t enough because in recent times I’ve given myself quite a lot of exceptions. On days when it was almost too late – time for dinner and then bed – I allowed myself to get away with diary entries, which were sometimes shorter than half my daily word count goal. It’s getting more and more frequent, and I need to stop.
Mostly though, I’ve noticed, the reason I feel uninspired or stuck is when I’m not writing in the morning. And that’s surprising because I started writing in the morning only very recently and for more than two and a half years I wrote at the end of the day (once when it was hardly a quarter before midnight) so my body or “creative mind” or whatever the psychological term is for when your brain cooperates with you while writing should have been more active in the evening for a morning person like me.
But it’s the opposite. I’m a morning person and I happen to work best in the morning. Not that I really, superstitiously believed in the whole morning person-night owl thing but I didn’t really question it either. And with this incongruency, it looks like maybe things like creativity can’t be determined. Human behaviour is very complex, as our Psychology teacher often reminded us.
I strayed a little from the point, which was that I didn’t want to write today yet somehow I’ve managed 750 words so far about it. And I’m not complaining because I’ve had worse days. Way worse. They were ages ago; I’ve only had not-so-good days and good days recently and had almost forgotten how bad it can be.
Anyways, now that we are talking about writing at all, I’d like to mention that I’ll be starting two new columns on this blog – fancy name for categories, really – one for all things writing, but with a focus on the craft and not the art, and the other a series of letters to myself about all the answers I’ve ever looked for. I don’t know how the latter will turn out and it will take me more than a paragraph to discuss it. I’ll probably write about it in detail in my next post.
I didn’t have a plan for this blog post. I just knew I did not want to write and that I had to post something here, so this is the result. I am so tired right now that I’m not going to bother editing it. Apologies for any errors.