I don’t feel like writing today.
I have a headache. The house needs cleaning. I’m grumpy. I feel as if everything I write sucks, particularly the story I’m working on. I want to bite people. The cats need snuggling. And so on and so forth.
But of course I’ve heard and read many, many things about successful writers over the past year or so. These two always leap out at me:
1) A professional is an amateur who never gave up.
2) A real writer sits her butt in the chair and writes every day, even when she doesn’t want to.
Today I don’t want to.
The good news is, it’s January, so I’m feeling freshly resolved to keep the commitments I’ve made to myself and to the Shenandoah Valley Writers Group, of which I am a proud member. I pledged to finish the NaNoWriMo novel I was working on in November, and I promised to write an hour every day on something, whether it was the book, this author blog, or journaling about mundane-alia (Facebook status updates do NOT count, however). So while I’d rather spend the day grouching and grumbling about chocolate withdrawal and lack of sleep and all the other things that could use my attention, I need to just shut up and type.
Shut up and type.
This job is a luxury – at least for right now. For if I do get published, I know I’ll be working to true deadlines, not just self-imposed ones. This job is a luxury. I’m doing it because I want to, because I get to, not because I have to. This job is a luxury – I’m not working 80+ hours a week trying to support my family, or digging through sewage pits, or cleaning porno booths, or any of the other many, many less-than-ideal jobs people do to earn a living.
And even those who are working in jobs they love, in careers they love, have off days. I’m sure there are many, many times doctors and lawyers and architects and professors and artists just want to spend the day in the theater, or sleeping on the couch, or listening to rap, or whatever tickles their fancy. Anything but working, even when they love their work.
It’s a matter of discipline. It’s a matter of practice. It’s a matter of self-control as well as impulse control. These are not my strong suits. Is it O.K. to admit that out loud?
This job IS a luxury, but it’s still a job, and one I have to do, day in and day out, if I want to make it a career instead of an occasional hobby.
The truth is, I LOVE writing. I love words coming together in ways that feel beautiful (at least to me), I love discovering what characters are going to do and say. I love language and phrasings and expressions and humor and wit. I love to write. I’m just not good at challenging the inertia and fear and self-doubt and, well, preference for ease that underlie attitudes like the one plaguing me today. Especially when a headache is pounding through my temples and sinuses.
But hey, look – in just admitting and writing about my desire NOT to write today, I’ve already put in time. I’m already sitting in this chair, already having to decide what will appear next on the screen, already debating what to work on after this writing-wise, and reminding myself that the ultimate goal, in writing as with so many other things, is progress. Not perfection. Just progress.
One step at a time. One word at a time. Just shut up and type.