The Only Way To Defeat A Bad Writing Day

girlforest

Bad Writing Days. We all have them.

We don’t like to talk about them. We’re frightened that by talking about them we will make them stronger. Or, worse still, we will jinx our productivity and conjure them into existence. No writer wants to say the word ‘block’.

I’ve always struggled to write. There are two people inhabiting this body; one wants to be left alone to write, wants nothing more than acres of time in which to type and think and come up with sentences and words and passages of description and dialogue. The other one, unfortunately, wants to do anything else. Anything!

Both of these people, however, like having written.

I read this quote from Brene Brown (from her book Rising Strong) recently: ‘We can choose courage or we can choose comfort but we cannot choose both.’

The toddler part of me bawled ‘why not?’, while the adult part of me nodded sagely, letting the words sink in and the truth trickle through…

I can’t have both.

It’s supposed to be scary.

I need to choose courage because that’s where creation lies.

But on a bad writing day, I choose comfort over and over again. I choose to write this blog rather than open my work-in-progress because however frightening a personal post like this feels, it is nothing to the anxiety I feel about working on my book.

On a bad writing day, I choose to say ‘yes’ to a friend’s invitation, even though I know it’s during my writing time. I may pretend this is something else (the selfless act of a good friend, for example) but I am lying.

On a bad writing day, I slip into the comfortable routine of editing a piece of old work when I should be making something new. Or I take all day to write a paragraph, telling myself it’s ‘difficult’ when the truth is, I am stalling.

On a bad writing day, I let the voices that tell me I’m worthless and my story is stupid and that I have no talent or creativity win.

I’ve had a lot of bad writing days recently. I’ve chosen comfort so often it’s beginning to feel like my new routine.

Luckily, that frightens me. I see my life stretching ahead, filled with comfortable no-writing-days, and I imagine all the books I will never write, the stories I will never tell.

That frightens me enough to make me open my document and get back to work. I want to have written and I know fine well there’s only one way for that to happen: courage.

 

Did this post resonate with you? Do you have Bad Writing Days? How do you overcome them? Please share your tips, advice, or experiences in the comments below! 

 

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

creativeliving_jump

Lovely Keris (check out her inspiring interview in episode #01 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with YA author Keris Stainton) recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast, ‘Magic Lessons’, to me and it’s excellent.

I’ve listened to the first two in which she (and her guest Cheryl Strayed) advise a writer who is struggling with procrastination and feelings of guilt.

The writer worries that spending time and energy on her creative work takes something away from her children, which is definitely something I identify with… Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed are incredibly encouraging and wise, and I’m really looking forward to the rest.


I’ve also pre-ordered Gilbert’s new book – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Here’s the blurb:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be.

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

Sounds good, right?

Episode #03 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with Julie Cohen

ww_episode3_shownotesimageThis episode includes a conversation with Julie Cohen, creative writing tutor and author of twenty books including Dear Thing and Where Love Lies.

For more information on Julie and her books, head to

www.julie-cohen.com  or follow her on Twitter @julie_cohen

I had so much fun chatting to Julie and we cover knitted owls, suckage, staying creative over the long-term and the importance of failure.

Books recommended:

Julie and I both love The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes

Software/tools recommended:

A kitchen timer. Any type will do! You can use the timer function on your phone, of course, but that’s more likely to lead to distraction…

Freedom I’ve been using this internet-blocking software for ages and it’s great! It’s only $10 and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a review on iTunes.

Thank you for listening!