How Does Writing Make you Feel?

How Does Writing Make You Feel?There are days when I don’t feel like writing.

If we’re going to be perfectly honest about it, there are many days when I don’t feel like writing.

In fact, there hasn’t been a single day in recent memory in which I bounded out of bed just dying to get my hands on a pen or the computer keyboard, my head bursting with the desire to write, to get something – anything – down on the page.

This suddenly struck me as peculiar one day after a solid, five-hour stint of work. I had gone from a business project to my journal to the business project again to the journal again to some blogging, and after the blogging, I’d be heading back to the journal again.

You know what? I feel great.

Before I’ve actually begun writing, there is no way I remember how good it feels to write. It isn’t possible. If I had this feeling of exuberance and accomplishment and sheer genius poised in my mind, ready to incite me to new heights, I wouldn’t spend my entire morning screwing around on various blogs and videos and social media accounts.

Yet I do.

Here’s the even more peculiar part: I have never once spent five hours screwing around (in that way, not the other way) and felt as good about it as I do about writing for five hours.

In fact, I tend to feel terrible about screwing around. I feel sluggish and useless and kind of like a failure as a freelancer. It’s a grubby sort of feeling that needs to be cleansed away by lots of new writing work.

So why do I seek out the lousy feeling instead of the awesome one?

I have no idea. I’m embarking on an experiment, and I’d like to invite all of you delightful people to join me: Let’s see if we can keep the delicious feeling of writing in the forefront of our minds when we’re about to procrastinate. Let’s further see if we can’t keep that vaguely impotent, disgusting feeling of screwing around up there in the frontal region too.

Let’s see if we can’t convince ourselves that it is more pleasurable to write than to screw around.

This shouldn’t be that hard to do. I mean, if I feel lousy when I screw around and I feel great when I write, this seems like a pretty obvious conclusion. It’s kind of like asking me if I’d rather win a free meal at a great restaurant or eat a hunk of cold unseasoned chicken as my only meal during the day I spend in some seriously rainy woods.

I’m sure there’s some outdoor adventurer who would prefer the latter, but not me.

And yet, somehow, I consistently choose the lousy option over the great option. Either I am a masochist, or I am stupid enough that I don’t make this connection every single day when I sit down to the computer, that writing brings me more joy than not writing.

I am pretty sure I am not a masochist.

So let’s find out if I’m stupid.

And hey! As long as I’m finding out if I’m stupid, wouldn’t you like to join me? I thought so. Thank you.

Here’s the plan: The next time you finish a great long stint of writing, I want you to do one of three things:

  1. Write down how great you feel. Don’t just think it; write it.
  2. Take a quick audio recording of you talking about how great you feel
  3. Take a picture of yourself looking REALLY exuberant and thrilled. Possibly giving a thumbs-up.

Whichever you think will motivate you more.

Now, put that paragraph, or audio file, or picture, somewhere you can access it easily. The next time you catch yourself screwing around, I want you to read it, listen to it, or stare at it. Then I want you to THINK about it for the next full minute.

A minute, for those of you who have never done anything purposely for that amount of time, is a really long time.

Just think about it. And see if you can’t convince yourself that writing is a better use of your time than whatever it is you are doing.

I will be embarking on this experiment as well, using the triple-whammy of all three forms of media. Go forth, my faithful followers! Become strong! Become valiant! Become smarter than I have been capable of being up until this moment in time!

(Is it bad that I know that phrase is summarized as “jusqu’à” in French, but have no idea what it should be in Old English? I keep thinking it’s hereforward, but that’s not right, that’s the other way round . . . Prove your smartness, dear readers. Help me find that phrase I’m looking for.)

Post by Taylor

Taylor Lindstrom (fondly known as Tei) is a twenty-something copywriter and journalist from Boulder, CO. She’s the team’s rogue woman who wowed us until our desire for her talents exceeded our desire for a good ol’ boys club. She loves the color green, micro-point Uniball pens, and medieval weaponry.

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  1. Getting to the pen or keyboard is often harder than pulling teeth with a set of needle nose pliers….but once my fingertips start dancing on those home row keys it’s almost like making music….unscripted…and a creation so unique it can only be called mine. I love writing and yes, it certainly makes me feel G-R-E-A-T (with my best Tony the Tiger pose!)
    .-= Roschelle´s last blog ..Ways To Make Your Twitter Time More Productive =-.

  2. I think I just print this blog and put it next to my desk. I bet it helps me more than a picture of myself with two thumbs up. 😉

    However, I thought your conclusion wouldnt be that I was screwing around. After all, the best part about a competition, is winning it. But before you know how to win, you probably lose a lot at first. You get beaten up. To analyse why that happend, and to not make that mistake again. You train.

    Nobody likes to lose, to get beaten up, or is a masochist (much). But by losing you learn how to win. To get that one minute of fame. Probably the same happens to writing. You cant just keep writing 24/7. You need inspiration. To screw around, create chaos in the head, restructure your brain, so that something new gets pooped out.

    Still I probably poop too much at the moment. I am about to train 24/7 and not taking enough time to actually try to win so once in a while. So your tips and blog is helpful. Gonna start with it right away. Time to score!

  3. I always feel like crap first thing in the morning. Almost every morning actually. I think I’ll try this out and see how it works. Put a big 5×7 photo of myself on the wall behind my computer screen smiling (which is rare). Maybe it’ll make me laugh at least 🙂

  4. Strangely, I generally don’t have an issue writing, as long as I’m writing to benefit myself. I recall from consulting that sometimes writing for a client was really hard. But when it’s for me, it’s easy, really easy. A day that I don’t write feel weird.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..Top 10 Reasons why WordPress is the Future of the Internet =-.

  5. You just described to a T how I feel!

    I procrastinate and fritter away valuable writing time because I’m not ‘in the mood’ or the muse isn’t sitting on my shoulder gnawing my ear off!

    Then after hours spent site hopping and gazing bleary-eyed at tweetdeck – how do I feel? Crap 🙁 Uninspired & Unproductive.

    Yet when I’m right there in the zone writing up a storm, words in full flow. I can honestly say there is no greater feeling. (well, okay the other kinda screwing around you mention in the blog comes pretty close! ;))

    So I’m right with ya! Gonna try this experiment and see if I can upgrade my thought process to make ‘write, write & write some more!’ my default setting. 😀

  6. I think it is hitherto?

    Funnily enough, lawyers still use that word.

  7. Have you been reading my mind Tei? I’ve been thinking very similarly the last few days – although there’s no way I could do five hours of solid writing. But I’m not a professional writer either.

    But, yeah. I can fiddle all morning, and then when it’s time to buckle down and get the work done – Voila! Fun! Excitement! Feel good! (James is going to tell me off for all those exclamation marks) And yet the next day I go back to the fiddle-farting around.
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..Systemising Your Emails =-.

  8. I’m screwing around past so many months and frittering away so many productive hours of writing. What is the reason: feeling myself worthless (if I don’t land any freelance assignment); if something happens in personal life that spills on and adds to my eagerly waiting depressive mood as a great excuse; and hence I lay here as morose as I hate myself to be.

    Yeah, writing gives me a great joy. After writing some length If I look at it, it gives me great joy. And it’s for that day. I can’t guarantee the same feeling each day with my most unpredictable moods.

    I hope this post of yours kicks me in my butt and go forth enjoying my writing. It’s no good life to be lead … thinking of writing each day and never be able to do it and being sorry about it all over, ever day!
    .-= Solomon´s last blog ..HEADLINE or HEARTLINE? =-.

  9. Sometimes I do end up staring at the computer screen doing nothing productive for the day just because I’m not in the mood to write. Whatever I attempt to write on that day looks crappy. Maybe I try to hard to think what to write that’s why it gets stuck up in my head.

    Lately, instead of pushing it, I relax and read interesting authors who inspire me to get back in the zone. Before I know it, I’m tinkering with the keyboard again, cooking up a new article.

    Great to find your blog! This is definitely one of the sites I would often visit from now on to draw inspirations from. 🙂
    .-= Grace´s last blog ..CDO Bloggers Group Hosts Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3 =-.

  10. I think the phrase you’re looking for is “until now.”

    Off to write my newsletter now. There, I’ve committed (in public)!

  11. Sounds like a plan. Frittering away time reading blogs and forums just SEEMS like a good idea, but it’s like junk food, or dessert. Sweet, tasty, pleasurable but incredibly unhealthy as a regular diet. If you don’t get “real” food, you end up sluggish, bloated, fat, listless, enervated.

    Except, of course, coming HERE. Everything HERE is, naturally, like a full-course, gourmet meal. Not like those OTHER blogs….
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Climate Change =-.

  12. This happens to me a lot too, I wander around doing nothing and then get angry at me, and when I am trying to get to work I try to remind myself how good I always feel when I get things done, so this is a great idea, I think I`ll take a picture and write a short paragraph right next to it and print it, I`m sure it would help a lot.
    ¨jusqu’ਠmeans ¨until¨ so I think your phrase should be until now or up until this moment like you said 🙂

  13. @ Rosa – Actually, ‘jusqu’à‘ means ‘up to the point’ or ‘until that time’. ‘Until’ is a loose translation of the contextual meaning.

  14. @James – Ohh, I didn`t know that. I had always heard it meant ¨hasta¨ in spanish (which is my native language) and ¨hasta¨ is ¨until¨, didn`t know there was more to it in english, thanks.

  15. Uh oh, does reading your post count as screwing around? Does writing a comment count as writing? There’s nothing worse than HAVING to write and not wanting to write. Nothing better than wanting to write but not having to. Ah, life can be cruel that way.
    .-= Cheryl´s last blog ..Are You a Graduate of the Old School or the New School? =-.

  16. For me, my attitude about writing is contingent on how I feel about my WIP. If I’m at a stellar place/scene/idea, then I can’t wait to jump back into it. If not, well, I’d rather be exercising. In fact, the idea of writing sometimes is a lot like my idea of exercising. Don’t like the idea of it before I start, but when I’m done, it feels great!
    .-= lori´s last blog ..“Mona Lisa” aka “La Giconda” aka “A Certain Florentine Lady” =-.

  17. I’m right there with you. Last night I needed to write a press release – for my own project! – and it took serious effort to get working on it. And then, as I started, those pendorphins kicked in and I started feeling great. When it was done I felt wonderful. Still, it was difficult to motivate myself at first.

    Great, timely post, my friend.
    .-= Justin´s last blog ..Press Release for the November Show =-.

  18. Matthew Ashcraft says:

    When I’m tempted to screw around instead of writing I take the opposite approach and try to make myself angry. Perhaps it’s too easy for me to convince myself that my blog reading and idle research has value to future writing. I happily spend my time planning what to write and never writing.

    Yet when I get myself riled up, I no longer have the patience to read and post status updates. My fingers get all twitchy and a nervous energy courses through me. You’d think that this amped state would be better suited to someone before a sporting event, but after a minute or so of frenetic typing I find myself completely focused on the task at hand and happy as can be.

    Maybe I’m just a masochist.

  19. Roschelle – You know, I have a serious dislike for sugary cereals, and yet I continue to harbor a fondness for almost all of their correlated cartoon mascots. Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, the Cap’n . . . . I have friends who refer to Lucky Charms as “magically delicious”. As in, “I think I’ll just have a bowl of magically delicious this morning.”

    Dirkjan – Perhaps. I have just found I am losing a lot lately and winning not so much, for no apparent reason. Good luck to you!

    Mike – Do it of you in your underwear. There’s nothing funnier. I have picture of me absolutely ROCKING OUT in my underwear to pop songs one morning. My college housemate took it. She was immensely pleased with herself for days. Until I got one of her playing some seriously contemplative chess with a ghost. Don’t ask.

    Carole – Sweet. Join the army!

    Patrick – Ha-HA! That is the word I was looking for! Well done. You win a prize.

    Melinda – Fiddle-farting is an excellent word. I commend you for its creation.

    Solomon – BUTTKICK!

    Grace – This is very true. I find especially when I read really good essayists or short story writers or poets, I can get in the mood to create good prose myself. Novelists don’t hit quite the same trigger, because you get so immersed in the story for such a long time. But browsing around on, say, The Sun magazine’s website for half an hour can definitely inspire me to greatness.

    Jodi – Hitherto was the word we were looking for, but your submission is also appropriate. Just not archaic enough. Good luck with your newsletter!

    Deb – ‘s right. Speak on, sister.

    Rosa – I hope it does help!

    James – Ha! I win. Four years of academic French and all it has accomplished is that occasionally I know a phrase in French but not in English. High school and college tuition well spent.

    Cheryl – I think if you are actually contributing to your writing in any way, that’s okay. See my comment above to Grace about looking through good magazines or other publications for inspiration. As long as you put a decent time limit on it, and you don’t start wandering into other activities that offer no value whatsoever, I think you’re safe.

    Lori – It is a lot like exercising. I have to convince myself to do that too. But I’ve lost 10 pounds and gotten some serious abs since I convinced myself to do an hour-a-day program. Let’s hope I can accomplish similar badassery in the writing field – and that you can too. 🙂

    Justin – Pendorphins. I love it. I will start saying that all the time.
    .-= Tei – Men with Pens´s last blog ..How Does Writing Make you Feel? =-.

  20. Matthew – Maybe, sir. Maybe.
    .-= Tei – Men with Pens´s last blog ..How Does Writing Make you Feel? =-.

  21. the cool thing about writing is that u can vent, be real. i knew i wasn’t airline flight attendant material…can’t show real emotions but as a writer u can do what u want and it feels right.

  22. Oh, the painful truth of the five-hour comparison. Thinking about how much better I feel after five hours of writing just might be motivation enough to avoid wasting it. The overenthusiastic photo isn’t a bad idea either. At least it’s good for a laugh.

    Thanks for the wisdom, Tei!

  23. I like the idea of taking a picture! Although I enjoy writing, their are times when forcing myself to do it seems counterproductive. At that point, I will switch to video, audio, or just spend some time reading/listening to music. That usually does the trick.
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..Blogworld Expo – The Recap =-.

  24. Generally, I just tell myself….”just freakin’ DO IT!”

    ie, the work won’t get done without putting fingers to keyboard (seems like the WordPress faeries are always off duty!!).

    But when the words simply remain mired in quick-setting concrete, I’ll switch my focus to something mindless like hacking my template. That’s always much more relaxing (I can tame computers far more easily than I can tame my flowering thoughts….)
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..Today’s Quote of the Day – Success Is Not For The…. =-.

  25. To me, not writing is a lot like eating candy, and I eat way too much candy.

    I never think about how bad I feel after I finish the bag of potato chips (or chocolate), well, unless I just finished eating the bag. I always think afterwords that I should have eaten some grapes, apples or whatever, but not candy.

    If I spend the time procrastinating, in the end, I feel bad, just as bad as eating all that candy.

    Thinking about it, writing is actually a lot like jogging. I’m usually having a hard time to get out of the house and actually jog, even though I’m trying to get some exercise done four times a week. If it’s raining, it’s cold, it’s dark, whatever the reason, I try to convince myself of doing something other than exercise.

    As soon as I start jogging, it feels awesome. I’m so happy I got outside.

    The same goes for my writing. It’s an awesome feeling when writing, and it’s an awesome feeling when I just finished writing. Especially if I’m satisfied with the result.

    – Jens –
    .-= Jens P. Berget´s last blog ..Using Twitter as News Aggregator =-.


  1. […] move forward with work. Men With Pens, one of the great copywriting blogs, talks about this in the context of writing: Before I’ve actually begun writing, there is no way I remember how good it feels to write. It […]

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