My current work in progress is a series of humorous early chapter books about a kindergartner who’s imagination gets him in trouble. Readers will hopefully walk away smiling and laughing. The problem? Sometimes I just don’t want to write humorous stuff. Sometimes I have tired days or grumpy days or “enter at your own risk” days – and I can’t squeeze one bit of funny out of me. I’ll assume I’m not the only one who has these slumps? Right?
(Please say I’m right – or this post is about to get embarrassing!)
So, here’s the thought: How do we, as writers, keep on writing when our emotions contradict what our current work needs?
To me, how to approach it depends on the project. If the project has a deadline and has to get done, you’re going to have to approach things differently than if you’re writing free of restraints. Here’s how I approach the two.
1. IF THE PROJECT HAS A DEADLINE: I find something that helps me shake off the bad mood.
I can’t stay in a bad mood long when I listen to dance music. It’s inconceivable (insert Princess Bride lisp). Some of my peppy song choices drive my husband a little bonkers, but they do the trick and get me smiling again – ready for thinking of witty, six-year old dialogue.
Meditation works great for me too. I’m religious, so scripture study and prayer are usually involved, but if you’re not religious there are many other forms of meditation that work well too for altering moods.
Last of all, I get up and move. Specifically, I get outside. I have a hard time being down when I catch the dusty smell right before a rain. Or see a tree bowing in the wind as I walk past. My favorite is the evening sun blazing through a filter of green oak leaves. Ooh – walks are good for the soul and the mood!
2. IF THE PROJECT IS FREE OF RESTRAINTS: I let it rest and move on for awhile.
I’m an over thinker; which is a wicked curse (unless you’re planning a big family outing on a budget – really handy there). I find when I force myself to work on a piece that I’m not “feeling,” I over work it. I edit where is doesn’t need it. I hyper focus on details or scenes that don’t need that much attention. I’ve found that if I’m not in the mood to work on a specific piece that I … (drum roll, please) … usually need a break from it. And I take it.
I keep writing though! Sometime I write a short story featuring a character is a similar mood as me. Other times, I look for scenes in my back burner projects that could benefit from my mindset. It keeps me writing without tainting my current work (or making lots of unnecessary fixes for myself later).
And, of course, all of the ideas in #1 work great here too.
I guess I’m hoping you’ll see that off moods don’t have to turn into writers block. There are ways to work around them – ways to keep yourself in motion and your projects moving forward. Then, if all else fails… there’s always dance music.
It’s catchy. I promise.
How do you write through your mood changes? What’s that one thing that puts you in the right mood when you have to keep going? Please share your thoughts below!
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