How We Write: When we don’t wanna!

When you’re a tech writer, you learn you have to have head’s-down writing days. Whether you’re in a busy office or working at home and everyone’s pinging you on your laptop through your DSL or whatever and the phone won’t stop ringing, you have to learn how to tell everyone that you can’t chat today, or do lunch, or even make a hour-long meeting that should only take fifteen minutes. You have a certain number of pages to get done to stay on your project plan, and that’s just the way it’s going  to be. You’re not moving from your desk or even going to try and pretend to be social until they’re done.

Fiction writers need head’s-down days, too. I was talking with someone yesterday about meeting daily page count goals. If I could do it writing 600 pg. security administration guides (brain damge would be a more interesting pursuit), I can damn well do it writing something fun like how to make dreams leathal or how to kill a bad guy with a Yoo-hoo-spewing vending machine (don’t ask). Your daily fiction writing goal is your professional project. If you have to, make a formal plan to track it. Then follow the plan. Even if you think you can’t be creative today. Of course you can be creative. You’re a creative writer. It’s you job. DO IT.

writer defined

Sorry for yelling. I’m on target to write more this year than I have in the last two years combined, and I think it’s getting to me

AND I know it’s not that simple. We all have lives, and some of us (me included) work at home and that comes with a whole other world of distractions. But be committed to your page count. To your story. It has to be a priority. Otherwise, you’re not giving your creative job your all. And it will show in the characters and plot you develop.

At any given time, I’m working on revisions for one book, a draft of another, promotion for a third, and hopefully a new pitch or synopsis I need to sell. How–I keep my butt in the chair and work until what I need to get done is done. On top of everything else. Despite everything. Everything else sometimes just has to take a back seat…

Otherwise, you might start to wonder if “everything else” has become your easy out for NOT following your publishing dream every day.


Maybe because inside you’re sure you’ll never make that dream a reality???I know a lot about that kind of fear. But I had to give up that particular character flaw when I decided to make a living from my writing. Or, at least not indulge it so often I don’t actually get the books written and into the publishers who want to sell then.

Just like everyone else, procrastination used to keep me from believing I could do what I had to do. Until I decided to knock it off. Ba-bye! Yeah, I wish it had been that easy. It’s a daily struggle. But at least I know it’s the fear I’m fighting now, not the story or the pages themselves. For me, that made all the difference in the world. If you know the enemy you’re fighting, you’ll know how best to defeat him. My solution–my butt stays in the chair going numb until I make the progress I need to. Period.

writer hard at work

There’s a lot we can’t control every day–but keeping our asses in the chair and our hands on the keyboard working toward our dream for as long as possible every day isn’t one of them. What project have you been putting off, because it seems too big to tackle? Why not dive in this week and bang it out? Accomplishing something that’s been hanging over your head is an amazing feeling–it will inspire you to do more.

Putting stuff off when you can is okay. We all do it–especially working writers. As long as the work eventually gets done. When your eventually arrives, it’s time for some head’s-down work. Get it done. Tell procrastination Ba-bye!

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7 Responses to “How We Write: When we don’t wanna!”

  1. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Anna. Your timing is perfect, because I needed this advice. Today! : )

  2. Its funny but I’ve been struggling with this very thing lately. Staying in the chair is easy, trying to stay away from the social traps is the hard thing. I made a commitment this morning and you’ve just given me solid ground. Thanks Anna.

  3. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Oh, you have NO idea what perfect timing this was. My butt will be superglued to my chair for the next few weeks (any idea how hard it is to worm your way out of pants stuck to a seat cushion — plus going to the breakroom wearing pink polka-dot bikini panties raises eyebrows). But it WILL GET DONE!!!

    Thanks! Excellent post.

    • Thanks GC Betty!

      My above blog rant came from 7 months of being “stuck” and the loom of 5 more, if I’m going to accomplish my ‘12 goal and the whining of “it’s not fair, I wanna go out and play!”

      Truth is, there’s time to play if I’m disciplined about my work and get it done first. Otherwise, the play doesn’t feel so good, you know? Because I remember every second what I haven’t gotten done.

      You can’t force the quality of the work. That comes when it comes. But you can work every day toward you goal and get bette at realizing it in a regular, consistent pattern that paves the way for your success.


  4. Welcome, Robena!

    I try to inspire someone every day (myself first, and some days/weeks/months I don’t make it out of the shadows). When I escape into the “wild” again, it’s nice to know I’ve been a part of someone else’s light, too!

  5. Pat Cochran says:

    Not a writer, so for me, it’s the closets calling
    my name! For the longest time I have wanted to
    clear the closets and install organizational units
    in each. Hasn’t happened yet but will as soon as I
    can get myself together!

    Pat C.

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