On Being in the Mood…

Do you ever find that you are not in the mood to write? That you’d rather just sit and veg out, or sleep, or stare at a blank wall? That you’d rather do anything other than fire up the laptop? Do you have days where writing or blogging seem like a gargantuan effort and you feel paralyzed?

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron explains:

Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn’t necessary in a long-term relationship.  Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.  All of us have a sex drive.  All of us have a drive to write.

And later in the chapter, which is aptly titled “Mood”:

Doing it all the time, whether or not we are in the mood, gives us ownership of our writing ability.  It takes it out of the realm of conjuring where we stand on the rock of isolation, begging the winds for inspiration, and it makes it something as do-able as picking up a hammer and pounding a nail.  Writing may be an art, but it is certainly a craft.  It is a simple and workable thing that can be as steady and reliable as a chore– does that ruin the romance?

There are days when I love the blank screen and the blinking cursor, and there are days when I feel it taunting me. I find that as Ms. Cameron suggests, typing out one sentence can bring me to the story and get me going, even though that first sentence feels a lot more like work than romance.  Still, sometimes those few barfed up words are enough to put me into that writing trance.

Do you know the trance of which I speak?  Have you ever been writing, with no idea of the time or your surroundings, and then revisit your physical being and realize you are breathing deep, long, yoga-like breaths?  Or look at the clock and discover that an hour has passed which felt like mere minutes? Or check your word count and realize you banged out 800 words without effort?

It happens like that for me. It’s existentially delightful.

Whether or not you start off “in the mood,” the littlest effort can put you right into that trance where you transform from that harried parent, disgruntled worker, and busy earthly creature into “Writer.”  Which I, as someone who loves to write, think may be one of the best feelings in the world.

Thanks for reading.  If you are interested, here’s a link to my previous post discussing Julia Cameron’s wonderful book.  Keep writing🙂

29 Comments

  1. I love Julia Cameron! I attended a workshop with her last year at Kripalu. Fabulous experience. I love your post on mood. When the blank screen seems daunting, I open up a new email and write to myself. An audience of me, myself, and I seems easier to write to then the rest of the world🙂

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  2. I was trying to figure out something clever to write about this post, since it involved ‘being in the mood’. Something like “that wouldn’t or couldn’t apply to men?” So, to be nice and stay sweet, I’ll pass on this one. . . (Jess , I’ve started a writing blog, you have inspired me, thank you so much, you can link it through my Poetry blog). I’ve been writing a little here and there, so you will see more posts soon. I kind of wanted to seperate my poetry blog from a more general writing one. Best wishes.

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  3. I haven’t been writing too long but I have had times when I didn’t feel like writing but then I’d think of something even if it was off the wall and just went with it. One day I was going to post simply about a drawing from my little guy and it ended up being about how wonderful and smart he was to me.

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  4. I make it a point to read more blogs on the days I don’t feel like writing. Much like today. I bet I’ve read over 100 blogs off and on over the course of the day today. So many people are incredibly talented with their words, yet go largely undiscovered.

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    • Agreed. As much as I am enjoying blogging, I love reading everyone’s stuff (yours included). They say writing is a “lonely” task but it feels a lot less lonely when all of these people share their lives and words with you. WordPress and its writers are awesomesauce!

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  5. Sometimes writing comes easy. And sometimes we just have to force ourself to show up and write. Those times when I dedicate myself to writing at the same time every day, magic happens. Suddenly I’m writing. And sometimes it’s even good.😉

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    • I haven’t yet read THe Artist’s Way, but I hear it’s a classic-a must-read for writers. JC is great. Morning pages are tough for me. I have tried a couple of times, but can’t stick with it. I hear people who have the same love of them as you though, and want to give it another shot.

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  6. When I’m not in the mood to write, I make myself write one page longhand, promising myself to destroy the horrible evidence when I’m done. Usually I get two to four pages written, and the results don’t need to be stashed in a hazardous waste container. The other times… well, we don’t talk about those time. 😉

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  7. When I’m not in the mood, I find my writing is disjointed: awkward sentences, nothing flows. Sometimes listening to music or doing something mundane like vacuuming will get my thoughts clear. I think we can often try too hard. Hey, even Ernest Hemingway admitted, “Writing is easy. You just sit at the typewriter and bleed.”

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  8. Not being in the mood to write is frustrating, but, for me, it’s only frustrating when I actually have to write, like for my day job. I find it more frustrating when I’m definitely in the mood and don’t know what to write about. Sometimes, I need someone to just give me the first sentence. Fortunately, I live with an excellent first sentence provider. The results never match what she intended to suggest, but it is SO fun just starting some place and frantically chasing the idea into it’s hidey-hole and finding out that the bunny was a dragon and … suddenly I’m a 4 year old telling a story about preschool and Jimmy barfing.

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  9. I’ve been writing for about 4 years now and only once ran into “writer’s block” – believe it or not, this happened just after I took a “well-deserved” holiday.

    I am usually working on a dozen pieces or more at any given time – novels, screenplays, TV dramas and of course, blog posts. When I tire of one – I switch to another.

    That’s the man for you – maintaining a harem🙂

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