Should you only write when you feel like it? Should you await your muse to bring you inspiration from on high? Should you grind every day and force words out of the stone of your heart until you bleed ink?
Um… no. Also, if your heart bleeds ink, you should probably get that checked out. It can’t be healthy.
There’s two extremes when it comes to writing, and both of them mean bad things.
First, you should wait for your muse. Look, sometimes writing is easy and the words flow so easily. Sometimes the word count doubles and triples and you’re having the time of your life. Savor those times. Let the words flow!
But the problem is that often enough, you’re not going to feel like writing. You had a bad day. You’re tired. A new season dropped. If you only write when you feel like it, if you only write when the muse strikes, your writing will be scant and thin. And honestly, the quality probably isn’t going to be great, because you’ve never learned how to write through adversity. You’ve only written on easy days. Hard days will come.
On the other hand, does that mean you must force out words until you give yourself a creative hernia?
That’s a good way to write something that no one wants to read. It’s going to burn you out, too. Think it’s hard to create now? Keep pushing yourself when you’re dry and it’ll take even longer to recover.
So what do you do?
Don’t wait for your muse. Don’t bleed yourself dry. Instead, engage in weight training.
When you start lifting weights, you don’t go for the heavy ones right away. You also don’t only lift when you feel like it. You set up a routine. You’ll be sore, yes, but by building a routine, you can work your way up to the big stuff.
When you write, get a routine and stick to it. Don’t strain yourself, but do push yourself. Don’t feel like it? Try anyway. Get a paragraph. A sentence. Something. Build up those writing muscles. Learn the craft well enough so that even when you don’t feel like it, you can create a scene that moves your story along.
At the same time, show yourself some grace. Set goals, but also make sure you’ve got some time off. If this is a job, well, you get to take some days away, right? At the same time, you can’t take all the days away. That’s a good way to get fired!
So work, even when you don’t feel like it. Write. Create. Build up those muscles, and in the end, you’ll be glad you did.