Note: I wrote this more than a year ago for a class but still pretty applicable in some ways.
She stared at the computer screen. The light tap, tap, tap of the keyboard filled the room as she watched the cursor fly across the opened Microsoft Word document. Unfortunately, it flew in the wrong direction—to the left instead of to the right. She could hear Beyoncé’s voice chiming in her ears; the worse part of that was that she wasn’t even a fan of the singer. To top that off, every time she paused, the cursor blinked angrily back at her—write, write, write. Throwing her block back in her face.
She couldn’t take it anymore. She clicked on the little floppy disk icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to save what little work she had and then closed the document. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she get any words onto the page? It wasn’t as if she was hurting for inspiration. Goodness knows she had more than enough of that. Leads came to her while she interviewed sources; dialogue formed as she tried to fall asleep; scenes materialized in her mind on the bus ride home from school. No. She definitely wasn’t lacking inspiration to write. What she was lacking was motivation. She was missing that extra something required to transfer those thoughts onto the page.
She glanced at the clock in the bottom right-hand corner of her screen and groaned to herself. It read 6:33 a.m. How many times had she done this? How many times had she gotten up one, two hours early before school in order to finish her homework? The answer was too many—especially in the past year or so. The last time she had done this was only a few days ago. It was another writing assignment. Fortunately, she was able to finish and turn it in on time. That was how it usually went. She would get up early to finish writing and somehow, miraculously, she was able to squeeze out whatever needed to be squeezed out. This was what her motivation had come down to. Time.
Once she’d finished the assignment, she hit print and tucked the finished product neatly into her notebook to turn in. When she placed it in the stack of papers in front of her professor, she knew she was happy with the result. She just wasn’t happy with the process she went through to get to that point. Ironically, all three classes she was taking this quarter revolved around writing. During the past couple of weeks, she often wondered what had gone through her mind when she’d registered for such a masochistic schedule considering her recent writing habits and how they affected her sleep schedule.
Once she was out of class, she called her friend Wynn back, who had called her just moments ago. Wynn was getting off work early because she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to know if she wanted to do something. Since she wasn’t working that day, they agreed to meet at the condo that Wynn shared with her boyfriend. They didn’t do too much once she got there because Wynn still wasn’t feeling one hundred percent. Mostly, she surfed the Internet on Wynn’s laptop while her friend jammed out and played Rock Band. Eventually, Wynn felt well enough to suggest they go get pedicures (Wynn’s treat since she still owed her a birthday present).
As they were getting filed, buffed and polished, she and her friend caught up with each other’s lives. Each of them was so busy these days that it was difficult for them to get together often. She told Wynn about her morning and her friend gave her a small laugh.
“You say you work best under pressure,” Wynn pointed out.
“Well yeah,” she replied. “But that doesn’t make me feel better about needing to get up so early because I couldn’t finish it the night before.”
“What were you doing instead of writing?” her friend asked knowingly.
“Reading,” she admitted sheepishly. “Ugh! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I just pick up a book and I don’t stop until I’ve screwed myself over for the next day. The saddest thing about it is that I know this while it’s all happening.”
Wynn had heard this all before so she just nodded in agreement.
“I swear I’m going to grow up to be a librarian or work in a bookstore or something,” she told her friend.
“Probably,” Wynn agreed. “But it fits you.”
“Yeah, I know,” she replied a bit more grudgingly than she really felt.