To quote good old John Denver, some days are diamonds, some days are stone. This is as true for writers as for anybody else and maybe a little more true for writers like me who have limited time to satisfy their literary Jones. If you’ve only got five hours a week to write and one of them goes badly, that’s a big percentage down the tubes.
So I started thinking about what makes a good writing day versus a bad one.
A Good Writing Day
- Have little or no alcohol the evening and no caffeine after three p.m. (your milage may vary).
- Get about eight hours of sleep with expected middle-aged-man breaks (just wait, you’ll see).
- Get up early enough to clean up, dress, eat, get kid to school without major stress (minor stress comes with the territory).
- Proceed from the carpool lane straight to the local coffee shop.
- Obtain a coffee, size depending on jolt needed.
- Ensconce self at table with laptop plugged to avoid machine outage, coffee at hand to avoid brain outage.
- Plug earphones into laptop and ears, using correct end of earphones for each.
- Turn on white noise to mute coffee shop bustle.
- Fire up software, set up planned writing for the day.
- Write. Do not look up except to drink coffee or greet personal friend who dares approach. Do not surf internet or even connect to coffee shop WiFi.
- At the end of an hour, access WiFi, back everything up to cloud.
- Smile in satisfaction at work done.
- Shut down, pack up.
- Remind self that day job is pleasant, supports family, writing, etc.
- Go to work feeling happy.
A Bad Writing Day
- Have more than four ounces of wine or six ounces of beer or a big martini or anything else in that line in the evening, or have caffeine after three p.m., or both. Also, eat too much at dinner and dessert.
- Stay up late doing something silly like watching TV or writing a blog post.
- Have a rotten night’s sleep, with more middle-aged breaks than usual and wife waking you up to say things like “roll onto your side, your snoring sounds like a bison giving birth,” or “what on earth did you eat to cause that?”
- Get out of bed too late to get everything done. Become crabby as a result.
- Fuss at family, listen to them fuss back.
- Bodily heave kid into back seat. Pay no attention to kid’s being upside down.
- Get to carpool lane when the crowd does. Wait. Wait more. Deposit kid.
- Go home to finish getting ready. Do not eat. Endure well-deserved hard looks from wife.
- Make it to coffee shop late. Order muffin and biggest possible coffee.
- All tables with plug-in access taken. Set up laptop on battery, start worrying about losing work.
- Set up earphones, play metal to match lousy mood.
- Take big bite of muffin. Knock crumbs off keyboard.
- Look at writing to do. Look some more. Feel stuck.
- Perform free-writing exercise to lubricate writing gears.
- Eat more muffin. Knock crumbs. Drink coffee.
- Look at writing.
- Watch people come in and out of shop.
- Start writing.
- Keep glancing at watch to avoid being late to work.
- Write more. Hate it all but keep going, thinking, “Hell, it’s never going to see the light of day, anyway.”
- Quit ten minutes early.
- Back up files, pack up.
- Heave heavy sigh. Reflect that years left on day job are more than many people serve in prison for serious crimes.
- Go to work grumpy.
Well, that was illuminating. I hadn’t thought much about the causes and effects before. Most of my writing days are good ones, thank Heaven, but now maybe I can pare down the percentage of bad ones even further.
Any thoughts of your own on how to make a good writing day? Please be so kind as to leave them in the comments for the rest of humanity to enjoy. See you next time.