On (Not) Writing Daily

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.”


  1. Completely off topic except as to brainweasels, but I am adoring your topologist books. And digging through my old math books for fun and giggles …

  2. I needed this today, thank you. I am not quite to the point where I can find my rails – I’m that far off track! – but I can see glimpses of a time where that might happen.

    1. Ditto. The ‘flu shot is making me feel lousy, topped off with an episode last night that cost me 90 minutes of sleep (nothing serious, more “Oh sheesh, why now?” and then having to let stuff clear the system before I could sleep). So I did a week’s worth of blog. And school is… school. 🙂

      1. Yeah. By Tuesday noon I’d had enough of school for this week. An infestation of yellow jackets was only one of the many problems that had surfaced in one day. I wish I thought such a week would turn into grist for the writing mill. But I think I’d just get sued…

      2. I’ve been pretty fortunate (so far…) as my reaction to vaccinations is mainly “What the… oh, bandage over the injection site from this morning. Huh.” variety. I might have some very mild soreness of the arm – and sometimes I wonder if I am imagining that.

        Last night was largely lost due to a storm that knocked out power for a few hours. Not sure if the machinery truly survived, or if I might need a new motherboard (and RAM… and CPU… backwards compatibility, riiiight) or “just” a new keyboard. The USB port issues are NOT making me hopeful. Dadgummit.

    2. When your coworker says at 3:20pm “Heck with clean eating. I’m getting pizza for lunch. Want some?”
      …and it’s delivered at 3:45
      …and you two finally get to eat it at 6:02

      Can one of you sound the whistle so I can figure out which direction I need to go to hunt for the tracks I’m supposed to be on?

  3. I’ve got some intimidating challenges. One has been being worked on, but fighting me for weeks. Had an insight yesterday, and was going to focus on it and the other today. Only I’ve gotten massively sidetracked, and need to reorient. First thing to address, I need to eat something. Because when I make mistakes and don’t work, everything becomes more intimidating.

  4. Been working on increasing my word counts lately. Managed 4000 in the past week, which is not quite a record, but makes up for the lousy output of the last month.

    1. I’d be satisfied with that at the moment. The day job is killing me. (Written after coming back to the day job to finish up.)

  5. Know thyself.

    If you can get back on the wagon after a day off, it’s one thing. If it’s prone to turn into a month or four, try a lot harder — or else impose some kind of rule to inspire your return. (Such as, you have to make up for them. My quota is about 250 words, because it takes that long for me to warm up, and then I have to make it up.)

    Also, a location where you post EVERY DAY whether you did or didn’t is an amazing aid.

  6. With you on this one. The last six months have been a tad difficult, and as a result I’ve lost time and that means words. So very much behind. But, life is what it is, and one just has to make the best fist one can of it.

  7. Another person who needs a map and compass to find the rails. Last three months have been a whirlwind of real life. moved, got a job, dealing with legal and custody issues… Yeah, going to take a lot of work.

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