I’ve decided that I’ll start numbering my posts about my writing day. I honestly never thought I’d have a reason to number or organize them. In hindsight, it was pretty myopic of me.
I like writing The Writing Day. I don’t do it every day. More typically I address extremes, days when it goes especially well or especially bad. Fortunately the good days outnumber the bad days by about sixteen to one. The bad days, though, have more impact.
Writing is emotional, intellectual and physical. When it doesn’t go well, it seems like I feel it in all those ways. I become a bit depressed and frustrated on bad writing days. Nothing tastes as good, looks as nice or sounds as swell. Instead, I feel like a broken, empty bottle, drained and not much use. My mood is simply black, my patience completely evaporated. I’m a restless and surly growling beer with little use for anything.
Since I’ve been writing about my writing days, I’ve thought more deeply about how I define a bad writing day. In reducing a bad writing day to the essentials, they are efforts when I just can’t gain traction. No words will come out when I try to write. Editing and revising finds me bereft of the handle to fix the errors and issues I find, and I seem to find more errors. The words and ideas behind them seem prosaic and stony, not worthy of reading or even being. I find myself asking, why am I writing? Why am I doing this, putting myself through hours of struggling on a keyboard or fencing with a pen? My efforts will clearly never amount to anything. It would be better to take up something else to eat my time, like pottery or stain glass art.
But those days are usually only one in sixteen, about six percent of my writing days, six out of one hundred, twenty-one or twenty two days per year. They used to be more, it seems, but as I’ve grasped the process and embraced it more, it seems as though I’m able to adjust better and lessen the frequency of a bad writing day.
I know they will sometimes happen, apparently part of a larger pattern of my personality and life. I’ve grown accustomed to this as a problem, as have my wife and friends. Instead of jumping all over myself, destroying my laptop, and shredding and burning my notebooks and papers, vowing to never attempt fiction again, I just breathe deeply and walk away. I also often indulge in long walks to help me overcome the mood, and music. Music is a terrific antidote to a bad writing day. Then, what do you know, the next day when I sit down to write like crazy, the stuff that I’ve written is not that bad, and in fact seems pretty good.
That written, it’s time to write like crazy. I have a novel in progress to write, and I feel good about my chances.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com