Writing is hard, and sometimes we don’t feel like doing it. When that happens, we make excuse after excuse. “I’m tired,” or “I’m busy,” when what we really mean to say is “I don’t feel like it.”
There are a plethora of feelings one can have towards their writing, and my intention is not to arbitrate whether these feelings are legitimate. Instead, I want to tell you that while you should address your feelings, you also need to put your head down and work.
Writing is creative work, and sometimes we romanticize creative work as driven exclusively by inspiration. An artist sees something and just starts creating, almost as if they have no other choice. Then, after a period of focused creative activity, they emerge from their work with beautiful results for all to admire.
I hate to break it to you, but that’s not just true. Even artists have routines.
Routines create writing inspiration because while you’re working you think through different ideas. It also means that while you aren’t working, the ideas are still in your mind. That’s how “inspiration strikes.” Think about the last time you had a “eureka” moment. Was it shortly after you had been working on a project, or after weeks or months had passed since the last time you gave any attention to the project?
There are very few careers where you are able to avoid your work responsibilities because you feel a certain way about them. This is another reason why routines are important – because they reinforce the fact that writing is part of your job.
If you wait for inspiration, you effectively cede control of your workday. Can you predict when inspiration will strike? How long will it last? Will the inspiration be relevant to the project you’re currently working on? There’s no way of knowing.
Let me know in the comments: do you wait for writing inspiration, or do you stick to a schedule?