My favorite thing about writing is getting in the "writing zone." Everything feels like it's coming together and I can't type as fast as my mind can think and the ideas keep pouring until I look up and realize I haven't moved in hours or the sun is coming up.
Those are the days when I feel like a writer. Those are the days when I look at my word count and smile. Those are the days I know I accomplished something.
Then there's the opposite. Days when I spend an hour on one page or one sentence. Days when I write an entire chapter only to decide I hate it and start over. Days when I can't figure out how to put together a line of dialogue, let alone an entire plot.
Those days are not fun. Those are not days when I smile about my word count or feel like a real writer. Those are days when I feel like I've accomplished nothing.
Then there's days that fall somewhere in the middle. The days when I write a few pages or get a few big plot issues ironed out, but I don't feel it. I don't lose track of time and get lost in the story. I'm not bursting with ideas and I don't feel creative or inspired.
It's tempting to not write unless it's going to be a writing zone day. Why should I bother to open the document if I know I won't get anything done? Why should I work on something I'll probably delete later? Why should I force myself to write when I don't feel like writing?
Giving into that mindset is what, I think, separates people who write from writers. A person who writes does so only when they want to. They write because it's fun and they have ideas. They write for the pleasure of it. But a writer writes even when they don't want to. It isn't always fun. They don't always have ideas. They are not writing for pleasure, but because they know the story needs to be told.
This may sound harsh, but I truly believe that a person cannot call themselves a writer until they are willing to think of writing as a job and treat it as such. Can you image if a teacher decided not to come to school because they didn't feel like it that day? Or a surgeon stayed home because she didn't feel "inspired" that morning? It'd be unacceptable. But when a writer says they haven't written anything in a month because they haven't felt creative, we're fine with that.
We shouldn't be.
Sometimes you have to sit down and write. Even if it's forced. Even if it's terrible. Even if you hate every word you're typing. You have to write something, because you can always fix it later. And when you do go back and fix it, you probably won't be able to tell which scenes were forced and which were created on writing zone days.
For one of my novels, I wrote the chapters out of order, so I ended up with all the ones I didn't want to write at the very end. One day, I forced myself to write chapter 30. It was not fun and I didn't like anything I was writing. But I got it done and went back the next week to revise. It's one of my favorite chapters now. If I'd waited for inspiration to strike, that chapter wouldn't exist as it does now.
Writers know they have to write. They can't wait until inspiration comes or they feel like it. They write when it isn't fun because otherwise, the story will never be finished. People who write may create fantastic stories, but it's going to take them forever because they're waiting for the right moment to strike and, sorry if this is harsh, they aren't serious about writing.
Writing is a job. It's work. That means it isn't always fun and some days it will be downright terrible. But if you really want to be a writer, you have to write anyway. You can always fix it later.
Are you a writer or a person who writes? How do you get yourself to write when you don't feel like it?