Right now, I’m pretty sad. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a blood sugar issue or I miss my girlfriend or I’m depressed because I haven’t yet won a Nobel Prize for literature. No matter the cause, I’m using this little ball of pain bouncing and grinding its way through my chest. I’m using it to write.
Two years ago, I started a new book for one reason: I was sad. On a Friday night, I had hoped to see some good friends, but they couldn’t make it. Nothing Earth shattering, but it stung. So that night I took that little pill of pain, used my suddenly free time, and started writing Poisoned Star. I concentrated on a futuristic universe filled with powerful starships and even more powerful aliens. I wrote about a boy in love who longed to see a girl who felt no one could love her.
Whenever I feel sad, I write. Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about me trying to expunge the feelings. I’m not out to write some cathartic poetry filled with depressing imagery. No, I want to take this bit of pain and use it as a motivation. For whatever reason, when I’m sad, I write well. It sharpens my focus and helps me concentrate. That might not be true for everyone.
Being a writer routinely comes down to discipline, but knowing yourself and when you write best can be incredibly useful. For example, I’m a morning person. I know I can be most productive before noon.
Last year, I wrote three novels in about three months. Each piece was longer than eighty thousand words. Sure, they were rough drafts and will require a lot of tinkering like pretty much all rough drafts.
How did this happen? I admit it, I’m a workaholic, but even then we’re talking about writing six or seven pages a day while teaching three classes and working half-time as a tutor. I was able to get this much done for one simple reason: I had my mornings off.
I didn’t go to work until one o’clock which meant I could wake up around seven and write until ten. Those three hours meant I accomplished a lot. I also trimmed back on my free reading and I did some writing at night too, but I knew when I could be most productive. When that time opened up, I took advantage of it in a big way.
It’s not just time you can use. Place can be a pretty big deal too. Like right now, I’m sad, but I’m also sitting in a library. This is a great place for me to write because I can enjoy the white noise. The librarians are chatting, people are typing at the bank of computers, pages are getting turned, and a printer is beeping somewhere behind me. I like white noise. This helps.
I’ve had students who say they write better with music or when they’re hungry. There are a thousand variables you can use to manipulate to trick yourself into writing more.