Writing in the Mood

Writing in the mood

Seascape - A

Flash…

Holding the mug of coffee between my hands, feeling its comforting warmth, listening to the quiet hum of the computer, the sun is peeking over the rooftops and it promises to be a perfect day to do some serious writing. I feel like I’ve taken a steroid pill. There is something about sunshine and warm weather that gets me revved up and energized. The characters in my book are clamoring for attention, demanding release. I really ought to humor them. Looking at my front yard, the lawn could do with some cutting, and I haven’t washed my car for a while. There is weeding to be done or the little suckers will take over the landscape. Yeah, soak up some UVs. I’ll get to my writing later…

Flash…

Dark clouds are marching across the sky and a stiff wind is whipping the trees into restless agitation. Rain has started to fall, cold and gloomy. Despite having the house heated, I want to put on a heavier sweater. I can feel the goosebumps as the rain strikes the window. Poised over my desk, pen in hand, I really don’t feel particularly creative, despite the fact that I am driven to write. The clouds outside seem to have settled over me, stifling me, driving my mood into bleak corners. Perhaps if I read something, it might lighten my mood and I’ll feel better. There is no law that says I must write 1000 words every day, is there? Maybe if I made myself a hot drink…

Do these scenarios sound familiar? I know I am affected by season’s moods, but it took some navel gazing to realize it consciously. Working on a new novel with sixty pages of manuscript done, I am keen to churn out more pages, but I find myself in a mental pothole. I know all about the procrastination demons and excuses for not sitting down and getting to work—I’ve written articles on it—but my lack of concentration is an accumulation of many life factors. Perhaps it was the long winter and an equally miserable spring that contributed to my lack of drive. Having summer here at last, the sunshine outside is irresistible. Perhaps that’s only an excuse, my body eager to soak up some UVs.

So, how do I climb out of that mental pothole? The fact that I’ve been there before helps me. A writer’s path is strewn with rocks, alleyways, dead ends, and distractions, all contributing to keep him from concentrating on writing. Many things in life must be dealt with or the clowns in blue will come after you. The mundane management of daily life is unavoidable, but it cannot become consuming. There must be time for pondering, reflection, gazing at a sunset or seascape, love…and also time for writing. A gloomy day can be turned into productive pages, as can one filled with sunshine. It takes focus and discipline, that’s all.

Sometimes, it is simply a matter of not forcing my writing, giving myself time for the images and storylines to settle themselves down. Eventually, it will all come together and I’d be off. Realizing that writing is also damn hard work, although extremely pleasurable when the words flow without end, the focus and discipline parts must always kick in. Every season has its moods, and so have I. They are all distractions to be understood and harnessed, and the writing will follow. A healthy dose of willpower also helps to keep me focused, as does my writing demon who won’t leave me alone.

There is another thing I found that helps overcome season blues: loving what you are writing. What does that mean? For me, it is having my work properly plotted and outlined, which avoids many stumbling blocks and eliminates excuses for not getting on with it. Writing on the fly with only a vague idea of what the plot is about, hoping that inspiration along the way will take care of things, guarantees you will spend a lot of time gazing out that window, searching for words that won’t come. Writing is a funny thing, influenced by so many individual quirks, but it must be based on discipline like any other job. When I worked full-time, I didn’t always want to get out of bed, but I gritted my teeth and went anyway. Same with writing. Grit your teeth, suck it up and write!

It’s starting to rain and I really ought to stop staring at my notepad…

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