Today I had… Perhaps not what I’d call “writer’s block,” but some sort of extra struggle with the blank screen. I think a little bit of burnout was to blame, or building my expectations for myself too high after a really good week of work on my WIP. Last week, I finally hit the “hump” in my YA WIP and was pumping out 1000-2000 words a day. (Nothing quite like the 5000-10,000 words per day I’ve managed when super inspired in the past, but much better than how I’d been doing before.) I didn’t have the whole thing plotted out–I usually get inspired as I write–but I felt like I was going somewhere. Meanwhile, I got hit with another idea for a new creative project and I “cheated” on my YA WIP to work on that a bit. I was on a creative roll, all while still juggling a fair amount of other things that required my attention!
Today, I had about six hours I could devote just to creative writing. A dream come true, right? I figured I could get so much done! But… I kept staring at the blank screen. I’d write a bit, and then just… Doubt that anything I’d written was worthwhile. Doubt I could pull off what I was trying to write. Doubt I could even come up with a full story. No ideas were coming to me! Even my favorite technique of skipping ahead a bit to write one scene I could vividly picture and then going back to fill in the gaps wasn’t really working. In the end, I got 1300 words done. Not shabby at all, except when you consider I spent six hours staring at the computer to produce it. (On a good day, I can average 1000 words in an hour.) I really don’t want to face another day like this one!
So here are a few things I want to remind myself and other writers who face a day that’s less than productive:
- Just keep going. You need to finish things! (Despite hundreds of thousands of manuscript words under my belt, I’ve only actually finished one project.) I actually have three WIPs at the moment (one much smaller in scope than the others, at least), and I stopped focusing on my middle grade one a couple of months ago because I had a few days where I felt this way. I don’t want my YA one to fall by the wayside, too.
- You can fix it later. Whatever you don’t like right now, you can fix later. Plus, when you’re in a negative mood, you’re not really viewing it objectively anyway. Maybe it’s not that bad.
- Remember what you love about it! I love my protagonist’s voice, and I’m quite drawn to the overall conflict I’m trying to portray. It would be a shame to give up because I’m not loving the details.
- Acknowledge how far you’ve come. Last week, I had about half of what I had this week!
What are your techniques for getting through a bad writing day?