Writing, like any other job or career, comes with days when working is the last thing I want to do. I don’t have a structured writing schedule, I work when the creative process is flowing. On days when it isn’t, I fall back on editing. I love to edit what I’ve written.
Then there are days when I’m sick and just getting out of bed is a chore. Thankfully, I’m rarely that sick. My issues have been surgeries and I’ve had a slew of them. Even though I haven’t yet reached my sixtieth year, both of my shoulders have been replaced, my right knee is artificial, and my lumbar is fused at L3-L4-L5. I’ve had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands. I’ve endured over twenty-two surgical procedures. I’m no stranger to pain! Despite all of that, I have to be disciplined, even when I’m not in the mood. I haven’t been able to write manuscript while recovering in hospital beds. If someone’s figured that one out, please share your secret!
On a serious note, it’s not unusual for a writer to stare at a blank page on the screen for a while. Guess what? I’m no different, and it’s normal. It’s okay to draw a “creative blank.” Making matters worse, there are tons of distractions: The lure of Netflix. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Email and blogging. At times, the eWorld is overpowering and writing becomes a grinding task.
But, (you knew there was a “but” coming), I have man-up and force myself to pound something out. Even if I just write one scene or finish one thought, it’s a moral victory. Lately, I’ve learned to dictate manuscript into my phone using the Siri feature of Notes. It’s crude, with lots of misspellings and missing punctuation, but it’s something I can edit later. And edit I do!
There’s always research as a fallback. If I can’t be creative, or get any serious editing done, I’ll dig into story elements online. I’ll research stuff – all kinds of stuff. And by “research” I don’t mean binge-watching Criminal Minds. I use the Internet to further my story, even if it’s reading from Wikipedia about Pandas or listening to audiobooks on how to improve my craft. Here’s a writing tip: Google Earth is a great source for scene/site research. It will never replace a physical visit, but I can get a pretty good feel for a place I’ve never visited.
My advice to aspiring writers? Invest in your career in some way, each and every day. There’s no shortcut or backdoor. Hard work is never time wasted.