Sometimes you don’t want to write when you know have to. This is cruel and unusual punishment and should be stopped – we should only write when we are spiritually ready and emotionally prepared, well-fed, freshly bathed, and in comfy pants (or no pants, as you like it). But until the rest of the world is as enlightened as I am, we have to make do.
So, how do you do the thing when you don’t want to do the thing?
Set small attainable goals.
You cannot do all the things all at once, I don’t care how much you’ve published how awesome you are, or how motivated you feel. If you make your to do list for a project far too long and complicated, you may find you’ve done nothing, or the dreaded “not enough”.
Think in small change when you are uninspired. What has to be done today to move the project along? (NOT complete it, but move it along) Isolate the top 3-5 things and let those be all you do that day. Stop when you’re done and look at what you’ve accomplished. If you want to go back for more, ok. But seriously, let yourself feel accomplished and productive for a few minutes. Enjoy it!
Get up, take breaks, and then go back to work.
As much as you are able to, be active when writing. Writing does indeed involve sitting there and *writing*. However, it is really important to learn when your body needs to move, because this can help free thoughts. I find it helpful to set an egg timer and make myself get up and make a circuit of the house every 15-30 mins. This may be too frequent for some of you, but I’ve learned over the years I need to be up and about more than most.
Writing is always happening, even when you are mentally working on a piece. Writing is not sitting and staring at the cursor, beating yourself up. That’s just beating yourself up, not doing anything useful.
Make sure you are answering just the prompt/idea in front of you.
If you’re working with creative writing, sometimes tangents are magical. You start writing one thing, then it becomes something else. But if you’re working on a less imaginative project, or using an exercise to practice, you need discipline.
What is the prompt asking you to do? If the prompt has a question, rephrase it as a statement. Answer it as if you’re talking to someone. Write that down. Make an outline of how you’re going to tackle this piece – even for very creative genres like poetry! The most fanciful writing still needs structure and discipline to be its best. Work with what you have right in front of you first, then worry about making it sparkle.