Author Problems: The Dreaded No Writing Day

I started 2017 writing. Literally. I woke up on January 1st, tired from the New Year’s Eve party, opened my work in progress file and typed some words. It wasn’t much. 142 words for my Sky and Storm story. But it was the first day in months where I’d written, and I did the same thing the next day and the next. I had a goal in mind for the year: write every single day. No matter what.

The writing every day challenge helped me out of my long, obnoxious writing slump and I was thankful for it. It was never easy, doing it every day, no matter what happened. Sometimes I wasn’t feeling well, or too tired, or uninspired, but even if it was a few hundred words, I wrote them.

The Threat of the No Writing Day

At the end of every month, I was thankful I’d managed another win. Thirty or thirty-one days of writing, keeping up with my monthly averages for daily word counts, seeing my WIPs getting closer to the finish line, it was all truly rewarding. My biggest fear though was that there would be this one day where I just wouldn’t write. This no writing day became a bit of a boogie man for me. I knew it would come, and it terrified me. no writing fear

The reason why I was so afraid of skipping even a single day of writing? I was terrified I’d set a precedent for skipping more, which would eventually lead to me not writing for a long period of time. Again! I was terrified of that, irrational as it might sound. Four months in, the idea of not writing for a day makes me feel like I’m not complete. It would be as bad as falling asleep without brushing my teeth. Does that mean it’s easy and I don’t want to just skip it some days? No.

And the No Writing Day(s) Arrived

Yes, the day of no writing caught up with me. As you might know, I was quite sick last week and this week. You might have noticed I went dark on social media and I skipped a post or two here on the blog. I have no idea how I managed to get the Angel’s Feather blog tour stuff done, and I am forever thankful for how understanding all the participating bloggers were.

I managed a few dozen words on Sunday, but on Monday and Tuesday… I just couldn’t do it. I felt like crap, I was in pain, and my brain was too fuzzy to do simpler things, like answering emails. I admitted defeat and put a big fat zero in my Excel sheet.

The first day was easier to deal with. I was feeling way too sick to even care. The second day, though, that was a lot harder. I knew I shouldn’t push myself in any way and focus on getting better, but I was getting antsy. What if I never write again? What if I miss all my deadlines for the year? I was already behind with my re-reads and editing, and while my amazing editor is understanding, she can’t manipulate time. So I knew I might have to postpone one release.

blank page

Getting Back into My Writing Habit

On the third day, I felt well enough to work. An hour or two, then a break, then more work. Better yet, I felt well enough to write. And I did! Not a lot, not with great ease, but I wrote and it made me feel ten million times better.

Today I woke up thinking I needed to write more, then get this post ready for the blog. Early! So I could be sure it would get done. Am I a little more obsessive about writing now? Yes, a bit. It’s scary, the idea of another slump, especially since mine lasted for so long until I figured my way out of it. Is it healthy to obsess over every missed day? Probably not.

So, now that I did get over the no writing days and got back to doing my daily bit, here’s a few tips to help you through something similar. Of course, some of it is stuff I did, some of it is stuff I wished I could do 😀

  • don’t obsess – it is very tempting to go nuts over not writing. But don’t stress yourself out. Be kind to yourself and realize there’s a difference between making excuses and being unable to write.
  • be kind but firm with yourself – there will be no writing days, and you can’t beat yourself up for not feeling well, or being stuck somewhere, or dealing with real life issues. That said, don’t make excuses. You have to be consistent and only skip writing when you absolutely have to.
  • just try to write anyway – so you are quite sure writing isn’t happening. Still, you’re beating yourself up over not trying hard enough. My advice is to open that document and give it a try. If you’re too fuzzy, feverish, exhausted to write, you probably won’t do it. But you’ll finally realize it’s not because your lack of trying or lack of dedication. I actually did try this, and I felt exhausted just from moving around the room to get my laptop in bed with me.
  • do something writing related – if you can’t write, why not research something? Read a book on a topic you want to cover, or watch an educational video. Or catch up with a TV series that inspires you to create.
  • remember your winning track record – if you’ve been good about your writing goals, try to keep that in mind. You’ve done it for a while, you can do it again. Sometimes, it’s like bad reviews – one bad writing day makes you forget months of good ones. Try to remember the good outranks the bad and give yourself a break.

 No Writing Days – Been There, Done That!

Once you’ve survived a day like this and went back to your normally scheduled writing, you know you can survive it. If another such day comes along, you won’t be so terrified. They happen, unfortunately, and you can go back to writing immediately after.

Honestly, having another day where I’m not writing still scares me a little. Because those six months of a writing break are still rather fresh. But it’s not that bad anymore. If anything, this forced break made me more determined to achieve my goals. There’s the silver lining for you!

Have you been through something similar? How did you deal with this author problem? Let’s chat in the comments!

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A pleasure to meet you! I’m Alina Popescu, an author, traveler, and hopeless coffee addict. I write urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and sometimes even contemporary stories. A significant number of my books are LGBTQ fiction and romance.

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