Today was a rough writing day. I don’t know why. Maybe I was tired, maybe I’ve just hit a plateau in my revisions, maybe I’ve simply lost my way and need to get back on track. One thing I’ve learned about rough days is that it doesn’t help much to try to figure out the source of sluggishness when you encounter it — that just leads to more wheel spinning. Instead, I try to go with the flow and respond to whatever barrier I encounter with as much energy as I can muster.
Here are a few other approaches I’ve adopted to survive tough days on the page: First, I try not to get down on myself about my lack of progress. I’ve found that it helps to view a slow day as part of the natural order of things — part of the natural rhythm of writing. Second, I shift gears. If a section that I’m writing is really resisting me, then I put it aside for a while and tackle something else. And third, I willfully push past the point when I feel like stopping until I win some little victory — even if it’s just a well-turned phrase. This makes me feel like a winner, not a quitter when I shut down for the day.
But most of all, I remember something Babe’s Ruth once said. When someone asked him what he thought about after striking out, he said, “I think about hitting the next home run.” That says it all, doesn’t it? Just like the immortal Babe, we need to shake off a bad at-bat, step up to the plate, and keep swinging. Write on!