One thing a blog “forces” you to do is to write when you don’t feel like writing. (Obviously, that hasn’t worked so well for me in the last few weeks.) Theoretically speaking, if you commit yourself to regular posts, then you produce regular posts whether you feel like it or not, whether you have a good idea for a post or not, whether you want to or not. This is a good habit to get into, because while your quality may not be at its utmost when you’re tapped out, it’s going to happen. And, when you write professionally, you have to write anyway. (Of course, if you are a self-employed writer, you can also take vacation and sick days as you need them.)
Lately, my family/personal life has shifted back into crisis mode. My youngest son is having a hard time at school, and that’s spilling over at home and affecting everyone else. Meanwhile, I have a tentative diagnosis of fibromyalgia and haven’t taken the time away from all this stress and busyness to get it verified. (I’m working on that, though.)
For those who don’t know, fibromyalgia involves both pain and fatigue. A lovely combination, I assure you. Oh and there’s a symptom lovingly described as “fibro fog,” which involves persistent, if irregularly “scheduled,” problems with concentration.
So, sitting for a long period of time is painful, pain is fatiguing, and it reduces the ability to concentrate. Not to be snarky—okay, definitely to be snarky—I just have to say that it sounds like the perfect stumbling block for a writer, right?
And yet, I sit down and write. (At least, I did before all three of my boys “decided” to start having problems in school.) I’m editing a book for a friend and, unlike our other joint projects, this can’t be put off because he’s under contract. (We revised the deadline and it’s off to the publisher now.) I’m writing my own book, which is also under contract. (I’m in the process of resetting my deadline with the full support of my publisher.) I have a client that I’m still behind on her stuff and she’s got more waiting for me. (Working on that!) And…well, there’s more, because of course there’s always more. Like blog posts that need to be written.
At the most obvious level, this is about discipline. Professionals need discipline, and that goes for writers, too. But, it’s also about craft. Part of the discipline is just doing it. The part that’s the craft is learning to do it well. You need to be able to “get” an idea when you don’t have one. You need to sit down and write quality work when you don’t “want to.” You need to work when you don’t “feel like it.” And it has to be good, or else you’re just wasting your time.
Now, when you start doing this, you will be wasting your time. It’s like strength-training. Lifting weights for a week won’t make you strong. It might even make you feel weaker. But, if you keep at it, keep focused, keep motivated, keep working, you’ll build up your strength. The quality of your movements will improve. You’ll get strong.
It’s the same sort of thing. That’s why I called my blog Caressing the Muse. I don’t wait for it to happen. I sit down and I write. I don’t just sit back and let my muse work me. I work my muse and my muse responds. Yours will too!
(Contrary to what my unplanned hiatus suggests, this usually does work. After all, most people don’t live a life quite as prone to chaos as mine. Three children with autism will do that to a person.)