Thursday, May 17, 2012

When You Don't Feel Like Writing

The Write Stuff
I hope you're well and happy and full of The Write Stuff today.

Almost finished the first part of my new doco - "I See Dead People". Yay! I should be able to put up the first nine minutes on YouTube later today. I think it's working well...

When it's complete I'm going to try and get it on the festival circuit - and apply for post production funding. 

Plus of course the new HD camera means I'll be working on lots of new projects this year, including Easy Way to Write stuff and a couple of exciting drama features in the pipeline.

After the doco, I'll be trawling the planet for a couple of young actors!

Keep Writing.

Rob Parnell


When You Don't Feel Like Writing

Rob Parnell

Just because you start writing doesn't mean you know where you're going - or even that you feel like doing it. 

Sometimes you get days like these, when you know you must write (to live or eat or to fulfill the promise you made to yourself) but inspiration is lacking, or your circumstance or head space isn't particularly conducive to creativity. 

Heck, when I was slaving to make a living back in the 90s, most days were like that. I'd get so frustrated knowing that each hour spent in an office or on a factory or shop floor was a precious set of moments I could never get back - time when I could have been doing something worthwhile. 

Writing, in other words.

And then, during the evenings and weekends feeling dog tired and uninspired, hating myself for never having the time to write - and as a consequence getting drunk and hungover to compensate for my self loathing. 

Which, of course, always made the situation worse.

God, how I hated Sunday evenings, enduring the creeping dread that accompanied knowing the working week was about to begin again the following morning...

Maybe it was just me. Nobody else I knew appeared to feel the same way. Nobody else hated the system that made us work for a living as much as I did. Or so it seemed.

Of course, what I didn't realize at the time was that the prison I felt I inhabited was self imposed. That I lived that life as a kind of subconscious self punishment mechanism - like Thomas More wore a shirt with hair on the inside - to remind him of his own sins.

But I did feel trapped. The money I made working 9 to 5 was never enough to pay the bills anything but two or three months late - and still there were the toys we had to have to make life bearable, but actually just compounded the misery...

A couple of times I tried to make the break. Gave up work to write. Didn't work either time because I felt guilty, didn't try hard enough.

The final time it worked because I meant it. 

God knows, I have to admit I prayed for help that final time. Help that came in a round about way. Getting sacked for writing a novel at work - and my boss smiling and saying, "You and I know, Rob, you shouldn't be here. You should be at home, writing." No malice, no anger in her voice, just a kind of complicit understanding when she added, "Just think of me as the bitch who made it happen."

Now, I see the wisdom in her words. She was an Earthbound angel, really, forcing me to face up to what was in my own heart.

That I had to make a decision - and stick to it.

And the way to make a decision stick?

Act like your life depends on it - and that there is no alternative.


Nothing to fall back on, no safety net, no soft place to fall.

It's like that every time you write when you don't feel like it.

You must summon that energy somehow, even if there's only a tiny spark left - and focus it on one word after the other.

Force the words out, even if they're just nonsense or a direct reflection of the mood you're in. You've just got to get started.

And trust that your inner instincts are right - that you are a writer first. And that getting words out and on to a page is what you're supposed to do...

And knowing that the agony of wrenching words from your soul is actually part of the problem and the solution - the cause and the effect all wrapped up into one. 

Of course writing should be easy but that doesn't mean it's wrong when it's hard. I've known writers for long enough to know that getting the right words down - hell, any words down - sometimes is a monumental feat for a writer, for anyone.

But it's the wanting of it that's important.

The wanting is the key to the door that unlocks the inner you.

The you that was meant to be.

This is why habit is so important. Our bodies, not our minds, crave regularity. 

The need to breathe and eat and sleep is written into our DNA - the cyclical patterns that sustain us. We need to make writing as important as our need to breathe, to eat or sleep.

And when we write every day, we make that happen.

Purely by repetition do we convince our subconscious that, yes, this is our modus operandi, that writing is a daily part of who we are. And that by writing, we are sustaining ourselves.

And like any habit, anything done with regularity, when we do it we get the mental reward, the serotonin rush that causes us to feel satisfaction so we can relax and enjoy the process...

And guess what that brings?

Yes, oh yes.

We are writing again - and all is right with the world.

Keep writing!
 rob at home

“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” Tennessee Williams

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