4.07.2012

A to Z: Going with your Gut

I'm planning on doing a whole post about my convoluted and ever-evolving writing process, but one thing that I've found that always trips me up is going with my gut.  On the one hand, I've found that really, your feelings shouldn't get a vote when it comes to sitting down to write.  Your gut can tell you all sorts of things: that you're too tired, too blocked, that maybe tomorrow you'll be inspired so yes, you should definitely wait until then to begin.  But I don't believe in the muse, I don't believe in waiting to be inspired.  I believe that inspiration shows up when you sit down and write, and not the other way around.  Real artists don't talk about art.  They talk about work.

On the other hand, when my gut recently told me to stop working on my WIP and start something new, I hesitated, hemmed and hawed, kept hacking away at what I was doing - and was smacked upside the head with the concept of joy.  There's no point in writing if it's joyless.  I don't mean that every day will be puppy dogs and sunshine, of course (see above re: work) but, as my wife says, there's a difference between pain and suffering.  It might be painful, it might be hard and time-consuming and arduous work to sit down and write, but pain can be productive.  Sometimes a good writing session hurts your brain the way a good workout hurts your muscles.  There's still joy in that.

But if you're suffering, that's a different story.  Suffering is pain without purpose - it's joyless.  It's spinning your wheels.  And when you're a writer, it's totally self-inflicted.  Because you can choose to put the pen down.  You can walk away from the crazy-making thing.

The problem is, it's not always easy to tell whether you've reached the point where you should stop something, or whether you're just procrastinating/uninspired/blocked.  We're encouraged to keep pushing through... but sometimes you shouldn't.  Sometimes you should put it down and walk away.  The trick is knowing when.

If you're stuck, try and figure out why.  Is it a plot problem, a procrastination problem, a perseverance problem?  Those can usually be solved by pushing through.  But are you no longer feeling joy when you come away from working on your project?  If you aren't, maybe it's time to walk away.

I don't know.  I don't have the answers.  You have to go with your gut.


One month.  26 posts.  A to Z.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out the Challenge here.)

7 comments:

  1. Love this: Suffering is pain without purpose.

    And now back to this project that brings me joy.

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  2. The more I go with my gut, the better I get at it. Instincts are honed when you trust them,

    Look forward to your challenge run…
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. "Instincts are honed when you trust them" - well said!

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  3. I agree. There's a great, gaping chasm of a difference between not writing because you just don't feel like it and not writing because you need to cogitate and percolate and think things through. The trick is in recognizing when it's your storytelling gut is telling you to back off and when it's your inner princess having a bit of a self-indulgent moment. :)

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    1. ...and it's so often my inner princess. Sigh. ;)

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  4. Hi - Nice to meet you too. Love this. And it's so true. I committed to writing a 365 day blog on Jan 1. Have only missed a few days due to what you described: a writing exercise that moved from joyless to downright painful. Taking a night off and resting my brain seemed to cure it. So far so good...

    From A to Z Blog Buddy #797

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    1. That's impressive! Sometimes all we need is a little time to breathe, definitely. Good luck on the 365 days!

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