We’ve all been there. You go to the computer or pick up a pen and you’ve lost your mojo and have nothing to add. No witty sentences. No finely-crafted metaphors. No engaging dialogue. Sometimes we call it writer’s block and sometimes you just feel wrung dry of writing. There are days where everything I type seems to have come from someone else’s brain. And that someone has been drinking, hasn’t slept in two weeks and can’t spell. In short, there are days where I’m just not motivated to write.
This is complicated by a few things. First, I work from home. So I’m not often out and about to source inspiration from my “environment,” since my environment offers stacks of laundry and piles of dishes that need doing. The distraction of daily living can be daunting.
Secondly, I also work as a professional writer and editor. So I write ALL. DAY. LONG. Now there’s a large difference between creative and professional writing, and whipping up an article about a local festival doesn’t sweep at the same cob-webbed parts of my brain as crafting a short story does. The inspiration for professional writing is clear: to get paid. I have to pay bills and so if I don’t write, I don’t eat.
Thirdly, because of this professional vs. personal writing life, I can sometimes feel drained of words. I have nothing left for the creative writing stuff because I spent all day researching business operations or lavender farms (two recent articles!). So after we perform all the daily duties of life–child minding, making meals, cleaning, brushing our teeth, exercise, play with the dog—how do we keep a little reserve of ourselves for our creative writing?
After a recent stint at the Banff Centre, I learned to crave the routine that came with getting up, showering, putting on makeup, eating, then getting to work before lunch and dinner breaks. I worked on creative stuff all day, surrounded by other creative people, meaning I had plenty of inspiration fuel for the fire. But when I had my first day, stumped without a thing to say, I got so frustrated that this feeling spilled over into some of the days that followed. Lack of progress or plain old poor writing was upsetting me. “What do I do?” I asked everyone who would listen. Some said to keep writing. Sit in the chair. Force yourself. Others said to give up for a few days. Go for walks. Do things you enjoy.
The answer for challenging lack of inspiration is different for everyone. We all have different interests and desires, and different ways of responding to stress. Ultimately, I’ve learned that my former military self enjoys a little routine and rigidity. If I forced myself to keep writing, odds were I got some words on the page, words that were easier to work with than none at all, once time came that I was ready to write full sentences again!
So how you choose to deal with inspiration is up to you. But whatever you do, don’t let it get you down. The words will come. Whether or not the words make sense is a matter of time, patience, and a little luck.