I've always loved the "Author Insight" feature at the Wastepaper Prose blog. This week's question is "How do you make yourself write when you aren't in the mood?" The answers ranged from people who take a break and don't force it, to those who push on through, reasoning that this is a job and sometimes you just have days like that.
I've approached it both ways. Part of
developing a writing process is knowing when to push through a "block"
and when to step back and take a rest. Sometimes reluctance to write is a
sign of burnout, but other times it's a sign that we're nearing a scene
we need to write that will be emotionally or technically challenging,
and sometimes it's a bit of laziness that dissipates once we start
writing. Sometimes the subconscious needs more time to work on the
story, and other times sitting down at the keyboard is the act that
unlocks a new plotline.
I show up almost every day at the
keyboard. I usually get at least a few words, often many more. Sometimes
I can hear the wheels in my head creaking while the muse strains to
come up with something, anything. It's kind of comforting to know that
not all writers race to the keyboard and type as if they're taking
dictation. I've been reading Sylvia Plath's journals, and she records
day after day of struggling, doubting, wondering if she really has what
it takes, feeling unmotivated. In other words, sounding like practically
every writer I know.