I would prefer not to

By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, November 07, 2018 At 12:58 AM

Who here has read Melville's shorter work, Bartleby, the Scrivener?  I read it my last semester in college for a special class in my English degree.  I remember my professor, who was stepping down as the English department chair, saying that he wondered if Bartleby's words, "I would prefer not to," reflected in any way how Melville was feeling about writing.  After all, he had poured his heart into Moby Dick only to have it poorly received.  Wouldn't that make a writer feel like saying, "I would prefer not to?"

I've been thinking about those words a lot lately.  I've been really busy, and with my freelancing relegated to evening, sometimes I'm too tired after a long day to spend my evening working too.  Sometimes, honestly, I just don't want to.

Sometimes I would prefer not to.

I'm really feeling it tonight.  I had a really long day where a lot of things didn't go right.  Not all things, and it could have been worse, but it was a stressful, mentally exhausting day, right up until the moment I got into bed with my computer and knew I wasn't going to be able to bring myself to work.  I convinced myself at the last moment to at least check in with one or two of my blogs, but as soon as I'm done here I'm going to bed -- on top of two very busy days, I've also had two rather short nights' sleep leading up to this moment.

How do you manage it when you would prefer not to?  I'm not talking about writer's block, I'm talking about just not wanting to do it.  Procrastination, in a sense, but procrastination that is driven by a feeling of mental exhaustion.  I've been struggling with it lately.  Eventually I get to a point where I just make myself do something (like tonight), even if it's not the most important thing, but I need to get a handle on my motivation and probably my schedule too -- I'm sure being so busy is in part driving this feeling, and unlike Bartleby I don't have an employer's office to crash when I've had enough!

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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