Some days just don’t get off the ground very well, do they? For me, this is usually because something happens that throws me off kilter: My plan for the day goes awry for one reason or another and my writing time just seems to get away from me. I had one of those discombobulated days today and as I sit here tonight contemplating what I expected to accomplish and didn’t, part of me feels upset and even a tad discouraged — and another part of me feels….relieved.
That’s right, relieved. Why? Because more often than not, when my writing plans falter, it’s because the plan itself is flawed. When I stop and regroup in response, I usually find that there’s something else I need to be working on — something that my story itself is telling me needs attention.
While I get a psychic boost out of my bouts of forward motion, there are times when I need to hold my horses and stop pushing to charge forward. When I listen hard enough in these moments, the message I usually get is that I need to go back before I can go forward. This can be hard to take, because it seems like I’m spinning my wheels and not making progress. But over time, I’ve learned that these backward glances and plateau periods often bear rich fruit.
Today, for example, as I was walking home from a disappointing writing session, I realized that I really need to combine two early chapters in my YA novel — right now, the early flow of my narrative is a bit too choppy. This is going to take some work, but I feel the end result will be much better. On my walk, the name of a story that I should take a look at as a model flashed into my head and when I arrived home, I pulled it out to see how the opening flowed. This convinced me that my new idea is sound and I should pursue it.
So, all in all, it was a productive day: I didn’t do what I set out to, but I had a modest “Eureka” moment that promises to put my story on a better track. In the end, here’s what learned from this: When your day falls apart, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, look for the ideas that pop up between the cracks — they can make even a broken, upended day totally worthwhile. And write on!