But I'd rather be...
We all get it. We all have those moments, those days (sometimes weeks) of “But I'd rather be...” I'm positive that even the best-selling authors we admire so much have those times, those moments where they would rather do something, anything, other then write.
I know I do.
This post is prompted by my personal feeling over the past week or so, the feeling of having that one thing you'd rather be doing – something you love to do, something that's fun, entertaining, relaxing, and in every sense, most likely unproductive.
I don't know about you, but for me, unproductive = guilt, so I've been in sort of a tight spot.
But it can be more serious than simply the desire to watch Netflix over writing our daily word count.
There are two ways that it could go. The first is when we relent entirely, and binge-watch our favorite shows constantly, saying that we'll “Get back to writing eventually.”
The second is when we deny it completely, and plunge ahead on our quest to keep writing, all the while wishing that we could do that one thing, watch that show, relax and enjoy something without guilt.
In my opinion (now I'm not a time-management guru or anything like that, just someone who has done both of those and found that neither turns out good,) both are wrong.
The first option, the fun option, turns out badly because we cease all writing. Every good writer will tell you that you must strive, at all costs, to write at least something every day, no matter how much you write or how good it is. If we claim we'll get back to it 'someday', we've given ourselves the excuse to instead do whatever else we want, and that, in my experience, will lead to weeks and months without the muse – with time wasted and stories lost.
In my experience choosing this option, I have gone six months at a time without writing a word. Six months – enough time for me to write four novellas if I put my mind to it (I wrote The Hidden Soul in one). Enough time to write a novel, to learn and soak up knowledge, to do so many things. All wasted, because I said I'd 'get back to it someday'.
No, that's not a good option.
But neither is the second.
Oh I know, it's the responsible one, but as creatives, as writers, creators, shapers of worlds and characters, we need our down time. I call it a 'mind break', and it is imperative in order to keep a good creative persona. When we choose to deny ourselves enjoyment, down time, and rest, we find ourselves irritable towards others, and especially towards writing.
For me anyway, my tired and overworked mind begins to subconsciously blame the writing for its fatigue, and in turn, the muse is constricted. Even though I chose writing and responsibility over fun, my mind practically shuts down, leaving me no better off than if I had given in to my desires in the first place.
It's a battle really, all over doing something fun. It may sound pathetic, but in reality, it's really quite serious.
So what do we do?
I'm going to say this again – I'm not an expert. Just someone who has experienced it before, is currently experiencing it even as I write this, and knows that I'm not the only one.
Currently, right now, I would rather be doing something else than writing. I've recently stumbled across an old (to me anyway) TV series, Star Trek, which I have come to love and can't get enough of. (And thankfully, they're all online.) I've got a soft spot for sci-fi, and it's actually super-rare that I find a TV show I like this much.
So when I found myself wanting to do that instead of write, I found myself with those two choices, and realized that I didn't want to choose either of them. Both lead to being miserable, unproductive, and both end up badly. I didn't want to deny myself a break, but I didn't want to jeopardize my writing.
Then I found out something else.
I didn't need to choose either of them.
What I did choose, and what seems to be working to the point of me writing a 1200-word post right now, is a choice that lands right down the center.
Yes, do both. Don't deny yourself something fun that gives you a mind break, but don't choose it over writing either. There are two choices I've found, besides those above, and both have worked for me:
The first is to use what you want to do (whether it's a TV show, an activity, a hobby, or whatever it is you'd rather be doing) as a reward for yourself. For instance, when I finish and post this, I'll reward myself with an episode. When I hit my daily word count, I'll reward myself with that one thing I want to do.
This choice is highly effective, and has been suggested by several successful writers that I follow.
It motivates your mind to finish its task, and subconsciously dedicates itself to it fully, all because of the promise of a reward. In a way, you're training your brain, and in most cases, it is successful.
Get it out of your system
The other choice is to get it out of your system. Maybe you're the kind of person who can't focus when something else is in the back of your head. In that case, I say go for it. I know you have to hit that word count, but if you struggle and toil to produce words that your brain would rather not be writing, they aren't going to be good. In fact, you're probably going to find them horrible and scrap every one of them – which makes them as useless as if you hadn't written them in the first place.
So, instead, get it out of your system. Still using my example, go and watch an episode or two. Go and read that book, or do whatever it is you want to. Satisfy your mind, give it a break. But you need to have the discipline and responsibility to then displace yourself from it to write.
This method gives your mind a break, and if it works for you, it will give you a fresh and rested insight, and a mind that will perform wonderfully all because of a few hours' rest.
I go back and forth.
Some days I'll reward myself, and others I'll get it out of my system. They both work, and they both equal me sitting here with fingers flying. Because I truly do want to write, and so do you. In your heart you want to write, but by choosing either of those first options, you are not only denying yourself true enjoyment and rest, but you are also denying yourself those words, those stories that are inside you that would love to come out, if your mind was only in the right place.
When we choose to be responsible, it means not only writing, meeting word counts, but also knowing when to give our creative minds a rest. It's not a bad thing, and it certainly isn't something to feel guilty about. We writers need our breaks, and our creativity and muse will be way better off for it.
Does your mind need a break? Is there something you would secretly rather be doing, or something you're doing instead of writing? Share below in the comments, and let us know what works for you!