Most of the time, my motivation to write is built in, automatic, unquestioned.
But sometimes…sometimes I have nothing. No inspiration. No ideas for the next few pages of my story. Like my right-side brain has gone into a coma. My Muse has left the building.
And sometimes, when this happens, I can work through it. I always try, at least for a while.
First, I’ll re-read and edit as needed my last 10 pages or so. I’ll study my outline, jot a few notes. Do I feel creative juices by then?
But sometimes I feel like my Muse is screaming at me: “Take a freakin’ day off, will you? Don’t you get what I’m trying to tell you? I need a vacation too, you know!”
I may try arguing with her. (Yes, my Muse is a “her”). “I’ve got to move forward,” I’ll insist. “I’m already behind on my established schedule for completion.”
“So, what’s the worst that could happen?” she’ll ask, on her most cantankerous days. “So you finish the book in May instead of March. So what’s the big deal? It’s not like you’ll be able to quit your day job when this book hits Amazon.”
“Ouch, low blow. Hey,” I remind her, “it’s your job to keep me inspired. And motivated. You’re supposed to drive me on, feed me blow-the-reader-away story lines, tear-jerking scenes, life seasoned with humor.”
“Ah, but there’s where you are wrong,” she pushes back. “I can calm your mind and let the ideas surface. But Girl, those ideas are all your own. I only help you listen to them.”
I’m a bit taken aback. “But, I thought…”
“Forget what you thought for a moment. Think about this. You force words on a page when other garbage is streaming through your right and left brain, and some of that garbage will spill out. And then you’ll have to rewrite everything anyway.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” I say. “Today is no different from yesterday. Why could I write then, and not today, if it’s not your abandonment?”
“What do you think?” she asks, donning her shrink hat. “First of all, you haven’t written a worthy word since Sunday. And what did you dream about the past two nights? Think fast!” She jumps in front of my face. “What’s been streaking through your head since Sunday, wreaking havoc at every synapse? What’s draining your energy and making you feel less than—well, just less than?”
“Oh, that.” I’m duly chastened. “Do you really think that’s what’s blocking the flow today?”
“No doubt in my mind,” she says, and adds with a wink, “and we both know my mind is your mind.”
“So, what should I do?”
“What do you always do, after we have a conversation pretty much like this one?” I hate when she answers my questions with another question.
“I put on my headphones, play my writing music, and try again. Sometimes that works. But I tried that already.”
“What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without a writing binge?” she challenges.
“A little over a week,” I answer, but quickly follow up with a wailing “but I can’t afford to lose that much time!”
“It doesn’t have to be that long. So you take today off. You’ve already proven with this conversation that your imagination isn’t in a coma. It’s just tired. It needs a day off. I need a day off.”
She flops backward onto my sofa. My writing sofa. Where I curl up with my music and my notebook and let my characters tell their stories. Even my characters seem tired today.
“Maybe I should try the sofa and music one more time.”
She shrugs and rolls her eyes.
“You don’t think it’s worth the effort?” I ask.
“I’m picturing cups of licorice spice tea, a comforter, fireplace blazing, zoning out with a Boston Legal marathon.” She smiles, more to herself than at me.
“Hmm. Boston Legal. Maybe I could get some ideas for my legal scenes.”
“Sure,” she says, grinning. “Whatever rationale you need to make it okay. Call it research. I call it heavenly decadence. But hey, this is your decision.”
“Sure it is. And you’re just a figment of my imagination.”
“A tired figment, to go with your analogy. I’m tired. You’re tired. We need a break.”
“But it’s just today, right? You’ll be back in action tomorrow?
“I need a more definitive promise than that,” I whine.
“That’s up to you, kid. Purge the garbage from your mind today, you’ll be able to write tomorrow. Dwell on things that are out of your control longer than today, all bets are off.”
“Ugh. I hate when you bring it all back to me.”
“That’s what I’m here for, kid.”