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How to Write When You Don't Want To


Most of the time, when I meet people who are interested in writing (did you know that writers are asked almost as many questions at parties as doctors, even if markedly different?), they tell me "I'd like to be a writer, but—"

The but is never about the knowledge of the craft, but rather about other things that stand in the way of writing, so I decided to do a series about those obstacles, and how I get around them.  Yes, "get" -- because they never go away.

Lately, I've been having a problem.  It's not as bad as it could be, but it's bad nonetheless.  It's beautiful out, the grass is green, birds are singing, and the LAST thing I want to do in the world is to work on things I need to work on.

To make things worse, I have to deal with  those tasks that are part of writing but aren't writing (which is the part I like) waiting for me: I have to correct/edit a hard SF short story and I need to edit a bunch of stories for an anthology I want to put together. I also have to go over copy-edits for my next short story collection.  All of it is minutia work that isn't as much fun as writing-writing.

To make things worse, I've been under the weather.  (Apparently, when they say when you take the shingles vaccine you might have more of a reaction than with other vaccines, they ain't just whistling Dixie.  We're talking fever, aches, and just generally feeling like someone hit me with a hammer for a good part of the week.)

Which is a problem.  Because when writing is how you earn a living, you have to write.  Even when you don't feel like it.  Even when you, to be fair, would rather saw off your hands with a blunt knife.  Which isn't where I am, but it's where I've been in the past.

So, how do you stay with it?

To be fair I very often don't.  I both laughed and cried once when I read about Terry Pratchett, in a similar state of mind, deciding he had to clean his office, and research, and—  whatever it was, it ended with him vacuuming his keyboard before he could force himself to work.

I've been there.  Your brain can convince you the most bizarre tasks are essential. Like going to the office store for note paper of a specific color.  Or finding out which of the hundreds of pens stuck at random in your drawer still work.  Or—

I call this state rotating the cat: it's useless, it's unproductive, and it annoys the cat.