The Continual Search for Writing Flow, or Just Some Words On the Page

I’ve lost my flow, that happy combination of play + focus that I call “playocus.” Playocus requires effort, but once engaged, is pleasurable. Once lost, it’s miserable.  

It’s all my fault. I don’t try hard enough. I get distracted too easily. I’m addicted to sleeping. Blah. Blah. Blah. News Flash: Self-Beratement Doesn’t Work. Yet that doesn’t stop me from beating myself up. 

News Flash: Self-Beratement Doesn’t Work

Einstein didn’t say, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” but he could have. The latest internet knowledge attributes this wisdom to an unknown speaker at an AA meeting, maybe. But my point is that beating yourself up with abusive self-talk doesn’t help with writing, dieting or anything else. 

So what does? I’ve tried to “fix” my writing practice by reading a half dozen books on plot (could be useful for future understanding, but not writer’s block), making schedules and goals (nope), submitting stories for publication (ouch, rejection, must hide), compulsive reading of fiction (fun way to avoid, and “real” writers read a lot, so it’s okay), and badgering writing buddies (sometimes effective, but we’re all alone with “the work”).

What I really want…is to be a “real” writer. In my mind, real writers write every day, or practically every day, jonesing for it when life’s duller obligations get in the way. Or, they write a lot sometimes, and this writing results in a book, or books, or articles for magazines that many people have heard of, even if they don’t read them. “Real” writers don’t need outside validation to continue their word slinging. Sure, they have difficult days, meaning some days they only get 300 more words added to the 20,000 they already have on the current project. 

Yeah, I know, I know. “Real” is subjective and every creative person feels like a fake sometimes. (Right? I sure hope that’s true.) Intellectually I am fine with being outside of the commercial aspect of writing. Writing gives me insights, helps me process my feelings and understand myself and others. It is a rich practice that engages my imagination and brings friendships with fun, creative people. 

I have been published, and been paid for writing. Those were good days. Money is really, really fun, and useful. There’s nothing like legal tender, a deadline, and an audience to get me past my resistance. 

It’s okay to want fiscal remuneration. It’s okay not to get it. Yet. It could still happen. It will dang it, as soon as I whip my creative self into productivity mode. 

Oops.

Okay, Einstein, ease up on the whip. Change the channel. Go take a walk.

{Sigh}

All I can do is not give up (for long, there is a certain amount of surrendering to Netflix that’s required for recharging.)

And I will be bugging my writing buddies. 

How do you keep yourself motivated? Please help!

–Stacey

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