How long will it take to get into the writing mood today? Almost every day, when I arrive home from work, I have a plan for the day’s writing. And almost every day I deviate.
Even being 50,000 words into the fourth draft of a novel—a point where I can see the flicker at the end of the writing tunnel—isn’t enough motivation. I’m happy with the progress. I want to know the end of the story. And yet each day it takes me up to several hours to invoke the muse and dive back in.
I even have a strategy to cajole myself into writing—all I have to do, I tell myself, is start by reading what I wrote yesterday and I’ll acquire the frame of mind that will get me back into the story. But that is not as easy as it sounds.
Shifting the mindset from the working life—where I cope with an annoying commute, marketing projects, technical writing about systems I barely understand, and having to deal with other people—to the isolation and deep immersion of the writing life is always a difficult transition. They are both forms of writing, but they are polar opposites in the writer’s world.
And then there are the daily distractions of course, and I think it’s fair to name and blame them: Henry, telemarketers, Henry, the UPS guy, Henry, the other dogs barking across the street, Henry, the kid three houses down thumping his basketball on the patio, Henry, the lawn guys and their two-ton noisemakers, squirrels… Did I mention Henry? He barks at all of the above, in case I haven’t heard them. And then we have to take our walk. And then we have to play. And then he needs to eat.
It seems so simple to the uninitiated—you sit down at the keyboard, you flex your fingers and start writing. In fact I used to do that when I worked as a journalist, the news stories already mapped out in my head based on the facts. But creative writing is a different species. There are no facts, per se, but truths, and those are buried farther down. Even when they’re uncovered they defy expression. You can’t just blurt them out. You have to find that thing called context.
No wonder the muse is afraid to come to my house. But like a desperate suitor I continue to call her, to beg her to visit for just a short time each day and give me enough inspiration for a few hundred more words. Clearly, a semi-normal, 21st century life is not conducive to serious writing. But enough excuses. Sometimes to invoke the muse you just have to invoke the muse…
O divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus…
How long does it take you to get in the mood?
 An oxymoron, I know.