John Kenneth Galbraith was a prolific author. Someone once asked him what he’d learned from a lifetime of wordsmithery. He answered, “The quality of the writing I do on the days I don’t feel like it is just as good as the quality of the writing when I do feel like it.”
Galbraith’s go-for-it message: Forget about feeling blue or below-par. Forget about feeling uninspired. Just sit down and write! The caliber of the work you produce doesn’t depend on your emotional temperature: One has nothing to do with the other. The mood you happen to be in on any given day doesn’t really matter – the quality of your writing doesn’t have to suffer because of it.
What a liberating idea! What a relief! I’ve tested Galbraith’s statement more than once and found that, for me, it’s absolutely accurate. I can be feeling uninspired, will myself to sit down and write, and come up with something exciting.
In the end, it all comes down to getting out of your own way, doesn’t it? If you let how you’re feeling stop you from writing, then you’re damming up the flow and you might lose some fantastic idea, some beautifully crafted sentences. On the other hand, if you just accept how you’re feeling and get comfortable with it like an old pair of slippers — enlist it instead of resist it — then your mood becomes a non-issue. You’re free to produce whatever there is to produce. And who knows how wonderful it might be?
Hearing my friend Rob Gilbert tell the Galbraith story on his Success Hotline (more on this in a future blog) has rocked my writing world. I can’t use the “I just don’t feel like writing today” excuse anymore. I just have to ignore my mood if I’m feeling blue or low on energy and motor through my writing day. Otherwise, there’s a good chance I might leave something terrific on the table. And I can’t really afford to do that. Can you?