I recently returned from a hiking trip in Yosemite and had a wonderful time, but I didn’t do any of the writing I’d thought I’d do.
See, I’m currently working on a web series script that I haven’t had enough time to focus on while I’m in post on another film so I thought three nights in the mountains would be great. It would unleash a flurry of story activity in my brain and the scripts would practically write themselves.
Yeah… that didn’t happen at all.
I didn’t write one word.
As someone who has gone camping maybe twice in the almost forty-years they’ve been on this earth, I felt like embracing nature and spending time with the people I’d gone with and decided not to write.
I thought about forcing it, but then stopped myself. Sometimes it’s just not right for me to write. If my head isn’t in that space, my writing will likely be crap.
I think many writers go through a period (or periods!) of wondering if it’s better to force oneself to write if it isn’t coming naturally or simply wait till it does. Or dare I say, take it as a sign you don’t really want to write but rather just like the idea of it? Everyone is on a different path.
Now, there are those pesky things called deadlines. And if you agree to adhere to one, your writing has to be delivered within a certain time frame. And that can take the whole idea of forcing oneself to write to a new level.
As someone who has written script and book analyses with tight turnarounds, I’m familiar with writing on a deadline. I’ve had many moments of staring at my computer screen not knowing where to start or how to continue as the Microsoft Word cursor blinked repeatedly at me. After a while, it starts to look aggressive.
But I learned something about myself when doing those twelve-hour turnaround middle-of-the-night writing gigs.
I still couldn’t force it. I had to wait till it came, even if that meant pulling an all nighter and writing when the sun came up.
But it’s different for everyone. Some writers have told me they have to be diligent and write during certain hours, five days a week, even if they decide to throw it all out and start fresh the next day.
So I’m thinking, do what works for you. But find it.
Write where and when it feels right. Not where and when it’s supposed to feel right.
I thought writing in the mountains was something I should want to do but it turns out I’m still best writing in my home office, in very comfortable clothes with a fan directly on me.
That’s what works for me.
And if I may ask fellow writers, what works for you?