They tell you to write every day, and that’s a very good habit to develop. However, since most of us live in this messy place called Real Life, it’s seldom possible to follow that advice literally. The babysitter just quit, the ten-year-old broke his arm, the nursing home has an emergency with your father, the kitchen caught fire, the garage roof fell in… Only someone completely without human connections and supplied with a large staff of perfect servants gets to be that rigid about rules.
I think most of the people who are sufficiently interested in writing to read a blog like this come as close as humanly possible to writing every day, even if Real Life does force them into some complicated detours.
But sometimes it’s just not possible, and I’ve recently experienced just how fast the cost of a temporary stoppage can mount up.
I started by being too sick to make good decisions (N.B. “This will go away if I just ignore it,” is a classic Bad Decision.) That condition rapidly escalated into being too sick to do anything but lie down limply and read beloved old books that I’d already half-memorized. Trouble is, writing is my primary anti-depression tool… so after a couple of weeks of inactivity, the familiar demons were clustering around.
“This book you were writing is no good, you’re past it, you’ll never write anything good again, you were never that talented anyway…” You know. Those demons. They’re pretty busy around the whole writing community. I know that, but I still sometimes fail to slam the door on them when they show up claiming to have a special message just for me personally.
Add the confidence-busting impact of a visit from one of those family members who specializes in kicking your feet out from under you and shredding your self-esteem, and by the time I was sitting up again, writing had become a dreaded chore.
It has cost me a solid ten days of gritting my teeth and saying, “Okay, maybe I’m writing a lousy book, but I’m going to write it anyway,” to get back into the groove, and I’m not all the way there yet.
That’s how it happens: small stuff on top other small stuff until the cumulative effect is that of piling Pelion upon Ossa. There’s not much point in saying, “Don’t let things get that bad,” is there? Sometimes the disaster leaves you in the ditch and there’s no option but struggling out of it.
The best I can say is, “When you do get derailed it can be hellish difficult to get yourself and your work back on track. Don’t be disheartened.”