Getting In The (Writing) Mood

It’s Sunday night and I sit at my laptop knowing I need to prepare a blog post for Monday.  I know I have to do it tonight because the next two days are going to be difficult ones.  I’m still getting settled in a routine again after spending several days out of town visiting my husband’s family.  I’ve spent all day doing laundry – and this is not an exaggeration either; I did nine loads today.  This afternoon, our family put up our Christmas tree and decorations, we cleaned out toy bins to weed out the ones that never get any play time, we cleaned and we organized–basically, we were a very productive family today.  My problem now?  I know I need to write, but I’m not in the mood.

As I sit here, I know I have some options.  I could get frustrated, shut down the computer and blow off my Monday blog post.  I could procrastinate and wait for inspiration to find me.  I could write a depressing post ruled by my state of mind and cap it off with a bottle of wine.  Or, I could let my imagination paint me into a story and allow myself to become the main character (in the case of the story I’m working on, I’d be my eight-year-old son.)

Well, I’m too stubborn to blow of the blog post; inspiration hardly ever finds me, even though I haven’t moved in thirteen years; and I don’t drink alcohol.  So, it’s up to my imagination to save me 🙂 (Oh, boy.)

The point of this rambling post is that even if the “perfect” conditions aren’t there for “perfect” writing, creativity can still prevail.  Even if I’m not in the mood to write, my imagination can get me there (if I let it.)

Here’s the funny thing:  just writing about using my imagination to escape my state of mind has gotten me psyched to do it.  I’m ready to wrap up this post so I can become a third grader.  Since you are no doubt ready for this post to end, now’s a good time to sign off.

What are your tips for getting in the writing mood?

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26 thoughts on “Getting In The (Writing) Mood

  1. Maimoona Rahman November 29, 2010 / 5:56 AM

    Insomnia. Insomnia helps me write. And depression, too. I can never write when I am really happy.

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 9:44 AM

      Insomnia and depression, huh? I guess if your choices are cry all night or write, writing wins 🙂 At least it’s productive, right?

  2. Bill Greeves November 29, 2010 / 7:52 AM

    I wonder if what’s partially causing your problem is the scheduled time? I rarely ever can afford to schedule specific time to writing. I get to it when I can, which I feel is never enough. I often get inspired to write at very random times…3 AM, driving, doing chores, at work… I have drawn inspiration from the sites around me, things people say, song lyrics and all kinds of random places. I frequently send myself email and voicemail reminders – plot ideas, character names, single lines of dialog, etc. that I keep in a list literally called Random Writing Stuff. When I find myself with time to write but I am not “feeling” my main project, I go back to this list and see what pops out. So far, there has been enough variety in the list to keep me inspired during any downtimes. BTW – I also have a long list of draft ideas in the WordPress draft lists, even if it is just titles for ideas on blog entries.

    I know a lot of writing guides tell you to make time for writing. And I guess I would and could do that if writing was the only important thing I had to focus on. But it isn’t. I’ve got a career job, a side business to run and a very active family. So it isn’t plausible to dedicate a schedule to writing. The downside is I don’t always get as much time as I like but the upside is I rarely have trouble finding inspiration when I do get to sit down and work on it.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is…try variety – have multiple projects going on at once and if you get stuck on one, see what else strikes you. And maybe try some different non-writing activities. Drive a different way to work in the morning. If you listen to the country station, switch over to the rap station for the commute home. Watch Boomerang and catch some old cartoons with your son or watch some Extreme Cage Fighting on Spike TV (assuming you don’t do these things already). : )

    You never know where or when inspiration will strike! I hope this helps.

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 9:51 AM

      Well, my problem last night was that I didn’t want to write about what was on my mind and it kind of crowded my brain and wouldn’t let anything else in. I know my writing time is at night and I jot down notes throughout the day so I can work on them later. I am REALLY bad at making notes about future blog posts, though. I need to work on that. (For the record, I did get into the story last night and got three pages done…and I started a guest post I’m doing in December. All in all, it turned out okay.)

      You may be onto something with the variety. I just finished and submitted three short stories for a contest and now I’m left with another story I’m writing for my older son for Christmas and my second novel, which I haven’t worked on since July. (I think I need to restructure my novel, so I’ve been procrastinating getting back into it.) I’ll keep my heart open for more ideas.

      Thanks for your suggestions to get on track. BTW – I have never watched Extreme Cage Fighting…might make my husband wonder… 🙂

  3. T.S. Bazelli November 29, 2010 / 8:34 AM

    I never wait for inspiration, because I don’t have the time to. I do find that writing gets me in the mood (not the other way round), and creativity just begets more creativity. I don’t have any set time or place to do my writing.

    One piece of advice for busy people is to develop a tiny ritual before writing. For me it’s to take out a notebook, pen, and a cup of tea. That simple act (repeated) now tells my brain it’s time to sit down and write.

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 9:55 AM

      I love your ritual idea. It’s a conditioning mechanism (like Pavlov’s dog in the old psychology experiments: they would ring a bell before feeding the dog, and it didn’t take long for the dog to salivate when he heard the bell, even if there was no food.)

      I like tea, so I may just hijack your ritual 🙂 Thanks!

  4. nrhatch November 29, 2010 / 8:47 AM

    I sit down at the keyboard and write. If my thoughts are coherent enough, I share. 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 9:58 AM

      There’s the key – coherent thoughts. From what I’ve read on your blog, your thoughts come out just fine! (mine? usually not so much)

      I did just sit down and write last night. And I went to bed with a feeling of accomplishment. I may be in for a heap of editing, but I won’t know until I’m done because I’m not going to go back and read it until then!

  5. Tim Weaver November 29, 2010 / 11:22 AM

    You could always write a first-person Zombie short-story. You can never go wrong with a good Zombie story. Someone smart(assed) said that once….

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 3:22 PM

      Ha! A zombie story? Somehow, I think that would be a disaster; a new kind of horror story 🙂

  6. brownpaperbaggirl November 29, 2010 / 12:43 PM

    To start writing, even if I am not in the mood. The first few words may be a challenge. But those words will grow into sentences, those sentences into paragraphs. Before I know it a flow will begin, and I will be writing. Other times, a piping hot cup of tea or a ramble outside will get me into writing mood too.

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 3:24 PM

      You’re not the only one to write to get in the mood, and you’re the second person to mention tea. Ahh, the power of suggestion, because I really want a cup of tea now. Unfortunately it will have to wait 😦

  7. chlost November 29, 2010 / 4:20 PM

    I am also the kind to write and then just see where it takes me. I will often sit down to a blog post and have no idea what I will write. If it doesn’t go anywhere, it gets filed in the draft file. Sometimes I get back to them, most times they end up being deleted. Reading other blogs is often a delay tactic to get back in the mood if I am not feeling like writing. Everyone is different. Your post was very good. I like you just writing your thoughts. Maybe you will eventually get to writing what you are trying to avoid.

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 8:53 PM

      Your posts turn out well, so I’d say the system works for you 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words about my post; I felt like I rambled. After I get some distance, I may vent the sadness, but I can’t do it yet…

  8. Ollin November 29, 2010 / 10:28 PM

    Ah, I had that feeling today. My brain was kind of fried, so I needed something that would take less energy and thought to write, so that’s why I wrote about my favorite books, which is fun for me and my readers, so i guess what I am saying is only write what you would love to read. If nothing comes to mind then don’t write. That’s my rule with blog posts {not with writing a novel however, I think in that case you should just write and write and eventually it will come.} But with blog posts I think you have to consider that others are reading it, so it can’t be total crap, and I’m one to believe if I written a blog post I do not like, I will delete it, or will not publish it.

    Now, the question is, what if you have NOTHING to write. A good guest blog might work {mmm… you’re already doing that ;)} or just a long break from blogging. Two weeks should do the trick. 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 29, 2010 / 11:12 PM

      Good suggestions, Ollin. I may cut down my blog posts for a while if nothing comes to me. I don’t think I need a complete break yet, but I’ll see what happens 🙂

      The guest post will change things up a bit. I have started a draft of my post, but it’s not good yet. No worries, though. After it simmers for a few days, I’ll check on it again.

  9. Jessica Hill November 30, 2010 / 11:26 AM

    Inspiration has a difficult time finding me, too. Most of the time, I don’t really feel like writing until I force myself to sit down and do it. If I waited for the mood to strike, I would never write. But, if I sit myself down and start writing, eventually I’m going to get sucked in.

    • jannatwrites November 30, 2010 / 5:35 PM

      It’s good to know that I’m not alone in the lack-of-inspiration department. I actually get jealous when I read about those who have loads and loads of inspiration and not enough time to write about it all 🙂

      Here’s to writing to get in the mood!

  10. Aligaeta November 30, 2010 / 4:07 PM

    Hey Janna; I can’t get past the first paragraph of a good book without fighting the urge to put it down and write, write, write. Its like, you’ve told me so, now I have to tell you. This was quite difficult being an English major, with the reading and response deadlines. Now, I have to fight not responding to blogs that are pointless or more importantly those that are in response to someone who clearly won’t get it, as we are not getting paid as psychoanalysts’, no PhD here. Always good chatting with you. Don’t forget, pick up a good book, better yet an anthology of prize winning short stories and write, write, write! : )

    • jannatwrites November 30, 2010 / 5:46 PM

      How interesting that reading prompts your writing. I can imagine that this conflicted with your homework as an English major. I usually get so caught up in the story that I can’t stop early on – I have to read the entire book. I think I might try the short story reading idea (less time investment there). Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  11. jpcabit December 1, 2010 / 8:57 AM

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA Hey Janna, did your realize that you just wrote a blog post about not wanting to write a blog post? That’s hysterical, and awesome. 🙂

    Like Maimoona wrote, insomnia is usually a pretty good medicine for me. That and coffee.

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2010 / 7:43 PM

      Yeah, I guess I did do that. Busted!

      It worked though, I got myself writing that night. I wonder how many writers suffer from insomnia? Glad I’m not one of them 🙂

      • Clar Bowman-Jahn December 13, 2010 / 3:46 PM

        Thanks for all the wonderful writing prompts. I usually write first thing in the morning when I wake up. No shower , no brush teeth. four am. I write down my dream and then I commence with writing my blog or my article or work on my childrens book. Later I revise. But I’m best first thing in the morning.

        • jannatwrites December 13, 2010 / 7:06 PM

          I’m glad you have a routine. (I’m also better first thing in the morning, but my schedule doesn’t work with that.) It’s good that you write before the other little distractions eat away at your time 🙂

  12. Clar Bowman-Jahn December 14, 2010 / 1:55 PM

    Yes, I’m lucky that way. Used to be I’d fight the urge to write till I was insomniac like the reply above. I have always had to write. I hope my compulsion will pay off one day.

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