I was listening to NPR this morning while I was in pursuit of a rumor of free firewood (a story for another time). They were talking about research on happiness. The question came up: does having children REALLY make you happier? Research showed that the acts involved in taking care of children actually ranked pretty low on a scale of what made people happy. Having sex ranked highest. But when they talked to a woman who has made a career out of researching happiness, she stated that they need to differentiate between the individual acts of parenting and the general feeling that came as a result of being a parent. It was the latter where parenthood was considered a happy activity.
I can relate, both as a parent and as a writer. I enjoy being a writer, but I don’t find myself always eager to jump out of bed and get right on my computer, excited about what words might come out of my brain that morning. That happens rarely, usually when I already KNOW what is going to come out. Most of the time it is a disciplined torture. Many times I find every excuse in the book not to write, mostly because I don’t feel I am up to the task.
I often hate writing. But I always love having written.
The key to surviving those days–oh, so many of them–when I don’t want to write and don’t feel I have anything to say can be summed up in one word. Discipline. You have to talk to yourself as if you were your own child. Use whatever means you find works–carrot or stick–to make it happen. I find that I work best under deadline, so I often set aside a specific amount of time ahead of time with a specific goal to accomplish during that time. Often I have Want To goals as well as Need To goals. For example, spring break is coming up. I Want To finish up Infinity’s Reach as well as start editing The Champion during that time. I Need To get Infinity done. If I get ambitious, I might get both done, but the bottom line is to get my Need To list done. I also cushion my deadlines so that I expect more in less time than I actually have to have done. When and if it doesn’t happen, at least I have the real deadline to fall back on.
It’s great to have something written. Partly because I know what torture I have to go through to get it written.