Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In the Mood

To write, I have to be in the mood.

And that goes for anything - newspaper stories, blog posts, my WIP, even emails and twitter updates. Sure, sure, when I'm on deadline or I have emails to return or I'm just wracked with guilt over my deep propensity to procrastinate, I can force myself to do it, and once I'm there, I'm pretty much always happy to be there. (Get your mind out of the gutter, you dirty little reader, you.)

But sometimes, when a deadline's looming, or when I'm t.i.r.e.d. from, say, staying up late working on my taxes, or when my house and desk and life are swirling in chaos all around me, I'm just not in the mood to write. ("Not today, dear hardwood flooring story ... I have a headache.")

And I've found that, at those moments, it's best to just follow my instincts and not force the issue. Shut the document. Fold a load of clothes. Play a little Words With Friends. Switch mental gears. Write a blog post. As I'm now doing.

Because I'm in the mood.

I've read advice from lots of writers about implementing set times each day to write, and I know that works for a lot of people. I've tried it in various forms and fashions, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work for me. And that, seriously, is because it's just this simple: I have to be in the mood. Luckily, I'm in the mood a lot. (C'mon now, back out of the gutter. Geesh!)

I don't know how the whole "muse" concept comes into play here. I don't think I have to wait for "my muse" to inspire me to come up with a good lede for a story on, say, hardwood flooring. But I do have to be in the mood to write it if it's going to be at all interesting to read. And I do think fiction writing goes beyond the non-fiction work I do. Makes me reach deeper - no set of gathered facts to assemble, no pre-acquired quotes. Not only do I have to be in the mood to write or edit, I have to be in the frame of mind to get inside my characters' heads, inside their world.

Their world's looking pretty good right now, actually. Since I'm really, really, REALLY (in case you couldn't tell) not in the mood to write about hardwood flooring.

Photo credit Auntie K

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