How to be Creative When You Don’t Feel Like It

I feel like garbage as I write this. Hot garbage.

I woke up with a headache. I have three giant pimples on my chin that won’t go away.  I have inventory at work this week, where my coworkers and I come into work at 6 a.m. to count a warehouse full of supplies, and then rush to complete our normal daily tasks. It is hell.

I want to post today, but, in almost equal proportion, I don’t want to.

Here’s a few things to remember when you’re on the creative struggle bus:

  1. It’s OK to do creative work when you’re in a bad mood. If I waited until I was in a good mood to write, my book would probably be at half the word count. Writing helps me get into a better mood, but that’s hard to remember when I just don’t feel like doing anything. Different moods bring different perspectives to your work, which you’ll appreciate when you look back later.
  2. Every time you blow off work, it’s easier to quit the next time. All my blogs have died this way. I don’t write for a week because I didn’t “feel up to it”.  Six weeks later, and I figure there’s no point in starting back up again.
  3. Every bit counts. When I’m feeling really crappy, I still write, but I may reach half the word count that I would on a good day. That’s fine. I did the work. Any amount of “the work” is progress.
  4. Find new inspiration.  If you have a day where you just can’t get into flow and have to cut your work short, switch things up. Read about a new subject, go on a walk and take a different route, hang out in the weird side of YouTube (not too weird, now). Chances are, whatever you come across will add something to your work going forward.
  5. Have a clear line between taking a break and giving up. On the days I work an eight hour shift, I often don’t write. I don’t plan to write on those days, so if I have the energy to it’s a nice bonus. On the days I work four hours or I don’t work at all, I have to write. No excuses. Make your own rules and stick to them. If you don’t have any, it’s too easy to say “not today”. Your rules can change as long as you remain honest with yourself. At first, I decided I would write 1,000 words per day, no matter what. That proved to be too demanding. Now my rules are more lax, but I still have them. If I didn’t write this post today, that would be giving up, not taking a break. I’ve decided giving up is not an option.