Writing when you don’t want to

Last month, I stumbled upon an episode of a curious podcast called The Bestseller Experiment.

The podcast follows the journey of two writers – Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux – who try to write a bestselling book in just 12 months, inspired by writing advice from various authors along the way.

The episode I discovered featured an interview with fantasy author, Joe Abercrombie (above), who talks about the business of being a writer, primarily that writing itself isn’t something magic and etherial, but good old-fashioned, hard work.

You can hear the podcast below.

I’ve always found this to be true, especially as someone who writes for a lot of different properties. Professional writers haven’t always the luxury of waiting for the muse to strike. The muse is notoriously flighty, and prone to going AWOL just when you need her the most. On those days, you just have to drag yourself in front of the computer and get to work, even if it’s the last thing you want to do.

This regularly happens to me. The week I listened to the podcast started with a hum-dinger of an argument with my youngest daughter, largely involving getting her ready for school. It put me in a bad mood, which didn’t diminish even after my morning stomp… I mean… walk.

I returned home to find a message waiting for me that the schedule had changed on an upcoming project which would now cause merry hell with my other deadlines, and, to top it all, my printer gave up the ghost.

It was not a good morning, and I was definitely not ready to be creative.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the option to sulk. I knew I had to get at least ten pages of comic drafted out before the end of play. I looked for the muse, but she was obviously screening her calls, so I parked my backside in my chair and started hammering out words. At first, it was like trying to carve marble with my fingernails, but I soon got into a rhythm and hit the deadline. Phew.

It’s advice I give time and time again. If you want to write, then write… even when you’re not feeling the love. Yes, the words may not be your best, but they’ll be on the page. You can always polish them later.


This post was originally published on The Cavsletter, my email newsletter.

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