Photo credit: guy.p
I have discovered the secret to getting yourself in the mood to write, and, surprisingly, it has absolutely nothing to do with magic mushrooms.
I want to make the distinction right away that what we’re discussing here is not writer’s block; we’re discussing how to get motivated to write. If you are already raring to go, but find yourself unable to put words down, I suggest you read my previous post: Captain Trips and the Permanent Cure for Writer’s Block.
OK, let’s get started.
Some of my regular readers may have noticed that I haven’t stuck to my regular schedule of posting at least once per week. For some reason, I just couldn’t get in the mood to write. I’m not exactly sure what my problem was, but my lack of motivation got so bad that I panicked and ordered a book from Amazon called, Write Is a Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses.
The book is written by a fellow named, Bill O’Hanlon, a psychotherapist turned writing coach that, in the book, not only examines the reasons writers put off writing, but also, as indicated on the back cover, helps you to discover “what uniquely motivates you to write.”
The book is filled with information that would help a lot of unmotivated writers, but seriously, as long as your problem is a lack of motivation and not writer’s block, I believe I’ve found the real secret, and you won’t have to buy the book to learn it.
The last time I had a serious bout with “lack of interest in writing” I applied the secret and didn’t even know it. I had signed on to participate in last May’s Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, a joint effort by Bloggers Unite and Amnesty International which encouraged the entire blogosphere to take a day, May 15th, and write a post involving human rights. When I had made the commitment a month-and-a-half earlier, I was full-on motivated to participate in such a worthy cause.
Flash-forward to May 14th, 8:30 pm on the night before the big day: I hadn’t even started writing. In fact, I didn’t even know what I was going to write about. Besides, I’m a humor blogger, how am I supposed to write about the atrocities of human rights violations and make it funny? I considered giving up on it all together.
But, when I commit to do something, I do my best to keep my word. So, I sat down and forced myself to write. By 10:00 pm I was finished and posted the human rights article to my blog. In my opinion it was not my best work–I would’ve liked to have spent more time on it–but at least I fulfilled my commitment and felt good that I contributed to the project.
It turns out that if I had given up on that particular post it would’ve been one of the biggest mistakes of my life. The next morning, I turned on CNN and saw Dead Rooster and my hastily written blog post featured in their story about the Bloggers Unite project. I got some of the best exposure you can get from a post that I almost didn’t write because I couldn’t get in the writing mood.
So, how did I finally get motivated?
The secret, in my opinion, can be summed up in the short quote by Joyce Carol Oats on page 37 of Write is a Verb:
“One must be pitiless about this matter of ‘mood.’ In a sense, the writing will create the mood. …I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing seemed worth enduring for another five minutes…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.”
Writing creates the mood.
The next time you don’t feel motivated to write, sit down and begin writing anyway. Get your fingers moving and watch what happens. It is almost magical the way it works. In my Bloggers Unite example above, it was the deadline that forced me to start typing; but, it’s not a deadline that gets you in the mood, it’s the activity of writing.
No one ever said it better than Ray Bradbury, “Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.”