Ever have one of those really discouraging days where nothing seems to go right? You know the kind I mean — a day of false starts and distractions, where you just can’t seem to get into your writing rhythm? I just had one of those demotivating clunkers and I’m glad it’s over. First, I had to take care of some pesky non-work related demands that were time-consuming, but not especially satisfying. Then, there was the weather. It was super hot and I couldn’t find a comfortable place to work. I tried sitting outside on my porch for a while, but between the heat and the noise from a power saw down the street, it was a total non-starter. So I parked myself inside, cranked up the AC, and tried again.
When I still wasn’t making any headway, I made the big mistake of taking a break and going shopping. Not a good idea: I should have followed the writer’s rule and kept my butt in the chair. By the time I got back to work, I was really struggling to concentrate. My original plan for the day was to tackle the next big chunk of my YA novel, but I simply couldn’t get any momentum.
How to rescue my day? I decided to regroup and go with the flow. Instead of forging ahead and courting more frustration, here’s what I did: I bit off something smaller and revisited a chapter that I had already revised but wanted to add a scene to. I started at the beginning of the chapter and worked through to the point where I wanted to make the addition. Along the way, I found some sentences that needed to be sharpened and a few paragraphs that had to be reorganized.
Suddenly, without even realizing it, I was back in my groove. I was moving forward and making some improvements. Instead of feeling unequal to the task of tackling something big, I started feeling good about the small changes I was making. Sure, they were modest, but even so, I was having an positive impact on my draft instead of wrestling with it unsuccessfully. That fact alone juiced me enough to keep me going.
Have you ever had a work day that just seemed to be tumbling downhill faster than you could catch it? What did you do to turn things around? Any strategies you can share?