Some days, writing is hard. Maybe the words aren’t flowing, or your writing time is interrupted by an unexpected emergency, or you don’t feel well. Any number of things can interfere with your productivity. For me, winter itself is an obstacle. I live in the northeast where daylight is diminished, temperatures are frigid, and all I want to do some days is hibernate. Everyone has their kryptonite and winter is mine!
So, what do we do when we’re just off our game? Deadlines don’t go away and projects need to be finished. Here are a few top tricks to help you write through the bad days:
Treat writing like a job.
If you treat your writing like a job, even if another job pays the bills, you’ll hold yourself accountable in a different way than if you feel it’s only a hobby. To that end, make sure you have a set schedule and do your best to stick to it. Whether you write for an hour before the house wakes up, or lock yourself in your office after dinner, protect your writing time.
Set goals and stick to them. Whether you prefer a goal of writing for two hours per day, or writing two-thousand words per day, it’s the habit of setting and achieving a regular goal that matters.
On the other hand, as with a day job, you can take a sick day if you’re sick or a personal day if you have appointments scheduled.
Lower your expectations.
Sometimes we really can’t function at full capacity. Maybe we’re recovering from illness, or we’re in the middle of a cross country move, or someone in our family needs us more than usual. Rather than put writing aside completely, consider lowering your expectations.
Perhaps your only goal each day is to write a paragraph. Perhaps its only to read the last chapter you wrote to keep your head in the story. Or maybe you’ll just scribble a few plot related notes before you go to bed at night. If you can keep your head in the story, even just a little bit, it will be easier to dive back in and ramp up your productivity when circumstances change.
Take care of yourself.
This is important, and can often help to speed along our downtime. During the winter, my tendency is to let things go that I probably shouldn’t in the self-care department. I don’t feel like going to the gym when it’s still dark in the morning. I want hot chocolate and comfort food pretty much all the time. Sweat pants and a baseball hat seems like a fine wardrobe choice. Instead of fighting these tendencies, I try to incorporate them in a healthy, balanced way. Here are some things I try to do:
- Get more sleep. I need it and the longer nights promote it. I pretend I’m hibernating.
- Make my work space more pleasant. Candles and twinkle lights. Seriously. They make the darkness, which lasts so much longer now, feel cozy.
- More yoga, less gym. I don’t stress myself about making it to the gym a certain number of times per week in the winter. Rather, I commit to more hot yoga. It’s great exercise, I practice with a group, and it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot?
- Outdoor time. It takes more effort, layers, and proper footwear, but when I hike with the girls on Thursday morning, or even take a walk around the neighborhood, I’m in a better mood afterwards.
Your methods may not be mine, but can you get the idea. How can you take care of yourself during the times you feel like it the least?
All writing days won’t be good ones, and that’s okay. You aren’t alone if you feel like your energy is low, your creativity stalled, or you’re just having a plain old bad day. Take care of yourself, adjust your expectations, and keep moving forward.