What to Do When You’re Not in the Mood

What to Do When You’re Not in the Mood

by Cody Wagner

I’m going through one of those periods where doing anything outside my “day job” feels like too much. Nod with me if you’ve been there before (I fully expect push-yourself the entire world to nod right now and throw the earth off its orbit). Maybe you’re working extra-long hours at the office or have a sick kid at home. In my case, I have quadruplets all teething at the same time while demanding to share the same pacifier. OK I made that up.

But the fact remains we all go through periods where our writing motivation drops.

So what do we do when that happens? Well, I’m not saying this is the miracle cure – honestly, the real answer here is to MAKE YOURSELF DO IT – but here are some tips that make it easier for me.

First, I tell myself – every day – that I’m going to work at some point that day or night. Every day. Getting into habits is something we can all train ourselves to do. And, for me, saying the words as I climb out of bed every day tends to add some accountability. I don’t want to let myself down.

The catch is, I do it nicely.

I remind myself how good I feel when I spend time writing or marketing. And I believe myself because it’s the truth. No matter how crappy my mood, I always get that rush of accomplishment after working. Actually, I try not to call it a rush. I’ve changed my phrasing and call it pride. I say that I’m proud of myself. That feels a lot nicer and makes me much more receptive to burning the midnight oil the next time my motivation slips.

When I’m REALLY feeling unmotivated, I ask myself what would suck the least in terms of work. On some days, the idea of working on my novel seems too overwhelming. On other days, marketing makes me want to shoot myself. I usually ask myself this when I sit down. And I work on the one thing that resonates OK with me in that moment. It might just be beta reading a friend’s book. That’s OK. Be flexible; you’re doing something amazing, so give yourself a little leeway.

When I’m REALLY REALLY not feeling it, I tell myself I only have to work for 10 minutes. That’s nothing! And, after those 10 minutes, if I’m still struggling my butt off, I quit for the night. Holding to it makes it easier to sit down. But you know what? At least 90 percent of the time, I begin to feel invigorated once I get going. My creativity starts flowing a bit, I get excited about X, Y, or Z, and I’m off to the races!


Finally, and this is important, I praise myself afterward. This may sound cheesy. In fact, I’m picturing Stuart Smalley looking in his mirror – wearing his hideous cardigan – and telling himself that people like him. But it actually works! The life of a writer is full of rejection. So the one person I won’t let reject me is, well, me. It really picks me up and I find I actually look forward to getting back to work the next day.

Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and write. His award-winning debut novel, 
The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, recently “came out.” See what he did there? Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at Wagner-Writer.com, or find him on Twitter (@cfjwagner), Goodreads, and Amazon.

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