Should you force yourself to write? A discussion.

Happy Sunday, folks, or Monday already depending on where and when you’re reading this. I know a lot of us in this community are also writers, so I thought I’d share a quote that resonated with me this week:

“We may think that the book we will write will be bad. Even worse will be the one we put off writing. At least the book that has been written exists.”

-Fernando Pessoa

Yikes. I can definitely relate to that, almost too much.

Anyone else?

I always seem to put off writing until I’m in the right mindset, until I have an evening with no plans, no distractions, until I have an idea that’s good enough. But good ideas don’t have to start as good ideas. Good writing doesn’t have to start with good writing, it’s just important that you start.

Besides being a member of this amazing team on Pointless Overthinking, I also write poetry and excerpts of a book series I want to publish in the future. One of the positive sides of quarantine has been that I’ve had more time to write without distractions. Over time, I’ve learned a lot about good and bad writing habits that I have.

One of those bad habits is procrastination.

I never force myself to write, it’s a passion that I’ve always had ever since I was a little girl. But I realized I had been using procrastination as an excuse to not write, which isn’t the same thing.

Block out 5 minutes of your day to free write, if it takes you somewhere go with it, if not, at least you started to build a good habit and gave your mind a break.

Sometimes I write 5 adjectives that come to mind, sometimes I write 5-10 word poems of random words, sometimes I describe all the unique colors I can see… Whatever works for you. Check your perfectionism at the door and start.

To answer my own question, no, I don’t think you should ‘force’ yourself to write. The most important thing is to have a healthy relationship with writing. But I do believe blocking out time every day to free write is a healthy exercise for your mind and many ideas can stem from there.

What I write, knowing that it’s bad, might also offer a few moments of distraction from worse things to another sad or wounded soul. That is enough, or rather, it isn’t but it nonetheless helps in some way, and that’s how it is with life.

-Fernando Pessoa

What do you write about? Do you also struggle with procrastination at times? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

.

.

.

You can read my poetry blog at http://www.poemsandprose.travel.blog


151 thoughts on “Should you force yourself to write? A discussion.

  1. It’s interesting to know that Procrastinating writing is not just a thing with me. I think it’s like a syndrome writers get overtime. I appreciate the idea of giving as little as 5min of my time. I would try it out. From today henceforth! Thank you

    1. Yes, I agree I think a lot of writers struggle with it too. But even 5 minutes a day helps to build a beautiful base for writing and allows us to be thinking about writing more and more subconsciously as time goes on… Thank you for sharing and best of luck with your writing journey! <3E

      1. Ohh, so if it’s about writing as a profession one should be connected to every word before jotting it down. In my case, I don’t write if I don’t want to. It comes naturally. ❤

  2. Since I joined a writing academy and belong to a writers’ association, I am much more motivated. Also workshops are a good place for me to be. I am a procrastinator maximus. So for me a diary in which I plan writing time into my day works. Speaking of….

    1. Surrounding myself with others writers has only helped me to become more motivated, connected, and creative! That’s why I love this community. Thank you for sharing! <3E

  3. I free write in a journaling format before I start writing. My mind get cluttered and there’s a certain emotional drive I want to achieve before starting my freelance work or other projects I set aside for completion.

    1. That’s a great habit to build up since that works for you. Sometimes I also need to just journal out ideas and see where it takes me before I start the draft for my final idea. Whatever works for you, keep it up! Thanks for sharing, <3E

  4. I’ve always had a passion for writing. I even sat down and hand wrote over 100 pages for a fantasy book when I was 12. Initially, blogging was a fantastic new way for me to express myself and reopen that creative side I thought I had lost. Unfortunately, depression sucked much of my motivation over time and I also realized that I was turning writing into a “job” rather than a fun hobby. I would force myself and I think that only made me more unhappy. It made me think I wasn’t good at writing anymore because I couldn’t easily come up with ideas. Despite the depression, I am trying to get back into blogging but I’m not forcing myself. I’ve learned during my blogging break that I will just write when I feel like it and write whatever I want. I don’t want to tie myself down to one topic.

    1. Hello there, I can relate to you because over this past year and a half I’ve dedicated more time to my personal writing than I ever have before, but it’s also been the year I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. For me, writing has been a judgement free zone and a place to pour my heart into. It’s been cathartic for me this past year and when people have related to some of the things I’ve shared it only helped me feel more connected and positive again. I’ve since then been progressing quite a bit and hope the same for you. Best of luck getting back into blogging and don’t blame yourself for taking a much needed break! You got this!! <3E

      1. Thank you and I’m happy to hear that you have been doing well and writing has helped you feel more positive. Writing is such a great outlook for anxiety and depression. I hope you continue to get better!

  5. I can totally relate to this. I’m in the middle of writing a novel but had to take a break because of burnout. I developed an unhealthy relationship with writing, blaming myself for not being constant and productive enough and ended up hating what I wrote. I hope that writing a bit everyday without judging will help me get back to it. Thank you for the great post!

    1. Hi Emma, I think a lot of us can relate to that burnout and pressure to produce something worth reading. I’m glad you realized you had an unhealthy relationship with writing and decided to take a step back to let more inspiration return. May I ask what your novel is about? I’m currently planning out a series of my own. Best of luck to you on your writing journey! <3E

  6. I have a daily session but not always on my novel. I keep a writers notebook and rather unexpected things can happen in there. I think it’s important I write everyday…..even if it’s only 15 minutes. Who can’t spare 15 mins?!

    Sometimes, when I am writing or editing my novel the greater problem is stopping! I do find I need a break after an hour usually though. I think that’s a good thing as it’s not good to sit at the computer longer. My novel is in three parts. I began to write part 3 after quite a long break so I went back to edit parts 1 and 2 to be sure book 3 doesn’t have a major style change. I do think its good to ‘rest’ a novel a while and then edit. A rest gives you a more objective distance but too long away makes coming back harder.

    Recently (being unable to find a nearby writers group) I have joined a virtual one online. They meet daily for one hour and everyone sits down and writes. It’s companionable and motivating. I live alone and writing can become very isolating. It’s nice to write in a cafe now and then but it’s great to be surrounded by other people who are all writing. We have a little chat at the end of the session too.

    1. Hi Ali, that’s so cool! I also live alone and would love to be part of a virtual writing workshop. Would I be able to join the one you’re a part of? 🙂

      1. Yes you would. Join Second Life (you can do that for free) and preferably download the Firestorm Viewer (easier to use). It might take you a few days to get the hang of the place but there is a lot there for writers, including inspiration. Just don’t get distracted. It’s a big world. Once you have an account join some writers groups and go to Milkwood (use inworld search). Sometimes it’s listed as Milk Wood. If you have trouble finding it just send me a message via my blog.

  7. I very often struggle with procrastination. There are loose schedules I set myself for when I will publish weekly posts, but sometimes life crops up. I always feel a sense of achievement after finishing a piece of writing – good or bad. This advice to write every day is priceless. 5min. No expectations except to pen some words on paper. Sometimes we’ll run with it and write and write and write. Other times we’ll finish those five minutes and move right on to something else.

    Thank you for sharing this, and asking a very helpful question. 😊

    1. I’ve been getting a lot better at balancing the “writer” part of myself with the other part of myself that works goes to the gym and socializes with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to find an intersection with those two worlds of mine but I get inspiration almost every day, and if I can just take 5 minutes to write about whatever comes to my mind I’m working towards my future self as a full-time writer. Wishing you the best and worlds of inspiration <3E

      1. Removing the barriers to doing whatever writing we have space for. Smart, intentional action. As you’ve said we won’t always fall into writing for more than five minutes, or create our next favourite piece of literature, but we will write!

  8. I think you have to get down to it daily. It doesn’t matter where you are or what mood you are in. I find that after a few sentences it’s starting to flow. I continually ask myself questions. I can’t write for more than 30 mins at a time so I take a break but I am often itching to get back to it as soon as I have boiled the kettle.

  9. Sorry I’m late.

    Writing was never something I had to force. It was actually something I did without even noticing it. It started with me have a blank piece of paper by me and writing words (me enjoying the way my writing looked), then I started writing paragraphs, which led to me writing full pages of my feelings out. Till it got to the point I was typing in my notes. That’s when I realized I wanted to blog. I wanted to blog about my daily life just not on camera but behind my words and a computer or phone screen. It’s more easier for me that way and it soothes me, more like a comfort method!

Leave a Reply