I’m stuck and I need your help.
I have not been a very good dad blogger lately. I have put up a few posts in the past few months, but they were gratuitous and laborious. I seem to be having a motivation problem. I don’t make money from this blog, I don’t have a schedule I have to keep, and there are a finite number of hours in the week. Who says updating a blog is more important than watching Modern Family with my wife? Or another mock fantasy football draft? Or sleep?
Not always, but occasionally, I do.
For the last few months, I’ve been making excuses about why I haven’t been writing. Some are legitimate and some are bullshitimate. I’ll label each as such, but what I need from you are reasons to keep writing and/or techniques that may have worked for you in the past to get over the hump. Or, if you’re so inclined, the go-ahead to stop writing and spend my nights doing mock fantasy drafts and sleeping.
Why I don’t Write
- I just published a book and I’m burnt out from writing. This may have been true a couple months ago, but now my late-night crappy-movie-watching has become habit. When I first published Daddy Issues, I felt a huge sense of freedom from deadlines. Now, when I see a Tremors marathon on AMC, I don’t feel this sense of guilt that I should be doing something else instead. Which is unfortunate, because they apparently made four of those time-sucking pieces of crap.* This sense of freedom eventually turned into habit and now, that itch I used to get when I knew I had a manuscript to edit has been replaced by this itch to get my DVR below 80%. However, as it turns out, I can delete shows without watching them and it still creates that same sense of satisfaction in my puny little brain. Is it really possible I’m that easy to manipulate? Verdict: Bullshit
- I’d rather concentrate on being a good dad than writing about being one. Again, there is some truth to this. There has been a time or two when I needed to finish something, so I would sit Mabel down and let Steve and Blue babysit her while I tried desperately to pretend she wasn’t there so I could write about how great of a dad I am. That felt dirty, even if it was for a deadline. At least now when I do that, it’s for the betterment of my fantasy team. So yes, there’s a kernel of truth in there, but it was very rare for me to take time away from my daughter to write about her. That time came from other places. This is just the BS I can’t even convince myself of anymore. Verdict: Bullshit
- I need to concentrate more on sleeping. This one actually has some legs. I have always had insomnia issues and it’s gotten worse in the past few years. I used to write during these periods of time when I would be awake against my consent. I felt like it was more productive to write than to lie there awake. In fact, I’m doing it now. And while that is true, sleep is better than writing. And very rarely do I fall asleep writing. HOWEVER, I do, on occasion, fall asleep while lying down in a bed. So yes, though I’d rather be productive than lying there trying to sleep, I’d rather be sleeping than not. And I never know when lying down is going to turn into sleep. It’s another risk/reward thing. Sleeping > Writing > Lying down awake. And the book on insomnia that I read, which ironically, did not bore me to sleep, suggested I continue to lie there and eventually, my body will recognize that I sleep during the night. Like, later. Months or years down the line. And tonight, I just don’t have the kind of faith that will pay off. Verdict: Reason
- I feel the need to make all of my essays more meaningful. One unfortunate byproduct of workshopping a book comprised of 22 essays is that I now feel the need to perfect all of my writing. Mabel turned two back in June and I have this piece that I really want to write about that day, but I can’t because I want it to be awesome. And that will take time I don’t have. And I don’t want to write anything else before I write that one, because people need to know she turned two. Life was a lot easier when I didn’t have expectations of myself. Verdict: Reason, but not a good one
- It’s football season. Football season eats up a lot of my “free” time, especially now that they have Thursday games every week. And though it is not football season yet, it is looming. Along with The Big Bang Theory, Survivor, Manhattan Love Story, and all the other network shows lined up to assault the backlog of crappy movies and Dora the Explorer episodes on the DVR. So no, it’s not taking up a lot of my time just yet, which is actually why I feel motivated to figure out a way to make a writing habit now, before I’m in too deep to find the hole in the ice. Verdict: Reason FOR writing
- I am behind on my reading. The word “behind” would indicate that there was a schedule I am keeping, and there is not. Not even one I’ve given myself. Though I do feel like I should read more and actually have started a very passive reading program for myself. And there have been times when I got tired of watching TV somehow and stared at both my computer and a book and chosen the book. So there’s some truth in that, but I also feel like reading might just be a way for me to put off my writing. Like how I only ever cleaned my room when I knew I was supposed to be mowing the lawn. Damn my brain. Verdict: Though barely, still bullshit
- I’m concentrating on my stage performance. Complete bullshit. Verdict: Complete bullshit
- I don’t have any material. Please. Verdict: Even bullshittier
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the main things I tell myself about why I haven’t written in so long. Science dictates that there are 168 hours in each week, so there’s never just one reason for not doing something. It’s a matter of finding an extra hour or two during those 168 to take away from somewhere else and put into writing. Somehow, I no longer have classes and though there should be a huge chunk of free time in my schedule, there is not. I would total up the time I spend on fantasy football mock drafts, but I’m afraid it would tell me something about myself I’d rather not know.
OK team, so what techniques do you use to try to get out of a rut and start writing again? You may also feel free to compliment me to trick me into writing more regularly again.
* – I really only feel like the last three movies were crap. The first is classic cinema on every level.