Sometimes you just have one of those days.
When you’re on you’re on your 165th draft and it still isn’t feeling right.
When you are so tired from your day job, raising your kids, or having yet another sleepless night that the idea of putting fingers to a keyboard is a nightmare.
When you rather have a double root canal than wrestle with typing a blog post… I may have revealed too much.
Times like these are only intensified when the guilt pours on. I’m a writer! Why am I not writing? That’s what my brain screamed at me every day while I fought through the flu last month. It’s what it screams at me when I come home from the day job after a killer commute and only want a glass of wine and my bed. Eventually this spirals into a world of hurt where the guilt turns into resentment and no writing gets done purely out of spite.
There’s always been a romantic notion that writers write because it’s what they love to do . That is totally legit. I wouldn’t bother with this path if telling stories wasn’t a passion of mine. But so many folks have this fantasy about how authors work. That they sequester themselves into homey dens, put their fingers to the keys, and pure beauty flows right out of them. If they had any idea how many times I slammed by face against my laptop they would take me to the ER for cranial trauma. Yes, we do love to write and it is our passion but just like any job, there are times when you just want to throw your hands up and scream… and possibly consider a career in animal husbandry.
“Story Stuck”. It is a problem, folks.
So our question today is: How do you deal with one of THOSE days?
Luckily I’ve learned ways to pull myself out of this loop of despair. Granted, it took me a while to learn these methods but I’m grateful for them. Here are a few:
- Walk away– Alright, so that sounds counter intuitive but it does work. I close up my laptop, get up, and distract myself with something else. I sketch, I sew, or watch an episode of Agent Carter. Anything to reboot. After a while my mind fixes on exactly what the problem is and I can dive right in.
- Talk to a buddy – My critique partner is in another state. We chat via text often and I talk to her whenever I’m “Story stuck”. When either of us is having a rotten day or is agonizing over the flow of a story, we talk it out a while and eventually, after bouncing ideas off each other, we’re back on track.
- Don’t worry about the words – When I’m on a tight turnaround and I need to write, regardless of inspiration, my rotten day, or exhaustion, I just write. I get my ideas out even if it’s sloppy and raw. After a break I go back and I clean it up. If I can clear my brain of the ideas clogging it up it really puts me in the zone.
- Write just a little bit a day – Long writing sessions are awesome, but when you’re sick or wiped out from the day, focusing for an hour or two can be almost impossible. When I was down and out with the flu I did short sprints on my laptop when I was feeling halfway decent. A sentence here, a paragraph there. I ended up completing a chapter that way.
- Be nice to yourself – Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day. Sometimes it’s just not going to happen. If you have the luxury to do so, be nice to yourself and take a day off. Give your mind a chance to settle and don’t feel guilty about it. This isn’t something you can do everyday but every once in a while its good allow yourself a break. We’re only human, after all.
So these are my methods and, like with everything, should be taken with a grain of salt. What works for me may or may not work for you. Everyone has their own way of dealing with “story stuck” just be sure to keep writing!
So how do you deal with one of those days? Please share in the comments!