Work when you don’t feel like it

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post by Phil Cooke…

Do you know the answer to the question, how do you eat an elephant? It’s: One bite at a time. And that same philosophical principle also applies to creatives — people who write, draw, and make movies or music…

A participant in my Get It Done program recently sent me a link to a blog post by writer and media producer Phil Cooke (pictured above). I really liked his headline: Work When You Don’t Feel Like It because, to me, it captures the essence of creative effort. Here is part of what Cooke said:

I have a lot more “unexpected” great ideas during periods when I’m putting in the work.

And I also appreciated his quote from Madeleine L’Engle:

I know writers who write only when inspiration comes. How would Isaac Stern play if he played the violin only when he felt like it? He would be lousy.

The bottom line for writers? You can’t do something big or important or deeply creative unless you’re willing to do a little bit every day. Working through the inevitable tough periods — when you don’t feel inspired, when you don’t know what to do next, when you have doubts about the value of your own work — will not only build character, it will also give you words. You can build upon these words later, rearrange them and make them better. But if you don’t work during those times when you really don’t feel like it, soon you won’t be working at all…