Why I Didn't Write Today

I didn't write today. A thousand and one excuses, parables and stories to help you get through your day of non-writing.

mj weir

I get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, and make a coffee which I take into my office and set down next to my laptop.

I push up my sleeves. I am ready.

I have a minor goal. Finish a chapter I'd started three months ago. I am aiming so low if I lift my head, I'll make progress.

Yeah.

Nearly every day, I go to my morning writing group. It is a Zoom thing. 'Go' being the operative word. Because I think routine is important. This morning people are talking about eggs. Well, not really eggs. Chickens. They're talking about getting chickens. If you've ever been to one of these things you know there is a little preamble when everyone chats. It's often the seed to the rotting carcass of my not writing all day.

I open my story when the leader calls for mics to be muted and time to write. I re-read what I've already written in the chapter, and then I stare out the window at the little tree I planted two years ago. The sun is shining, and it looks happy even in the snow. I can see little sparkles of ice on its bare limbs. Stories about animate trees whiffle through my mind. All the trees have rainbow streamers that look like hair.

I imagine the tree with eggs hanging from it. Scrambled eggs, to be precise. Stuffed into those little plastic multicolored easter eggs that come apart in the middle. I nod. I need a spatula. Not a rubber one or a metal one, but one of those nylon ones, flexible and narrow. I start to research. One website takes me to another. I surf Amazon. I visit Bon Appetite. I find one! It's perfect. It's beautiful. It's 65.00. It's out of the question. But just in case I ever write a story with a spatula, I know a lot more about them.

I wander into the kitchen for a banana and start some tea then I stroll back toward my office, stopping along the way to pet the cat on the head. Prose about talking unicorn cats bubbles up from my fingers. The cat's eyes glow with imaginary fire and tiny wings sprout from his shoulders.

The leader calls, "Time's up!" from the next room. I hurry in and take my seat, noticing I already have a practically full cup of coffee. I set the tea down next to it. I don't want to be caught not paying attention. They might kick me out of the group that lets me waste an hour and a half every day pretending to do something really important to me.

I look down at my screen. There is an open quote with a lot of white space stretching out beyond it. Everyone on Zoom is chattering about their poetry, short story, and how-to handbook. I stay silent hoping she’ll miss me when the leader asks everyone how their writing went. Otherwise, I can be truthful as inspiration to everyone else who wasted their time, or I can pretend I didn't write much but the thinking time was invaluable.

I feel good.

At least I got something on the page.

19+ Comments

Timark

I did write today.

I hadnt written much for the past 7 weeks though. Burnout, fatigue, call it what you wish.

Aug-15 at 00:22

Chenille

I often have days where I don’t write (due to writer’s block or lack of zest). I treat it like you would with anything you love to do.

It’s not a chore, it’s a PASSION. And if you’re not feeling passionate about it, it’s okay. Just go on with life until you feel ready to write, because your heart says so.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:

Aug-15 at 01:06

Srcrawley

I’m glad I’m not alone

Aug-15 at 04:20

Timark

who says you have to write every day?

stephen king?

Why is he saying that. if you write every day, and I highly doubt he does, where is the time for the ideas in your mind to ripen?
where is the time to visualize?

John Cleese said it better regarding the artistic process. what he says boils down to a two pronged approach. Time for creation and imagination and time for implementation of those ideas ripening to fruition.
I call it the fun and the donkey work.

Aug-15 at 04:33

Elliestorm

deep breath

well … where do I begin …

  • I had to work (boo)
  • the child bugged me for two hours
  • the dogs needed their walk
  • the kitchen needed to be cleaned
  • there was something good on youtube that needed watching
  • I stared at the wall for twenty minutes trying to remember why I walked into the room
  • my work phone rung after hours
  • the cat sat on my keyboard and rubbed his face all over my hands for attention
  • I stared at a blank screen for three hours wondering what to write …

I could go on … lol

Aug-15 at 05:23

Timark

Ha ha,.

Aug-15 at 05:38

Ronoz

I think Douglas Adams called that Woking.

Does that make any kind of sense? In the same way as he named one of those droplets of urine that runs all the way down your leg after you’ve been to the toilet a Wimbledon. (Remember the kids who run back and forward near the net picking up the tennis balls players miss hit.)

And Woking. Well, I’ve never been there. Presumably, Adams has and when he got there he wondered why. I guess it’s just that sort of town. The only thing I know about Woking is that’s where Wells had the Martians land when they invaded. Maybe Wells had the same idea as Adams.

Aug-15 at 10:52

Amichelle

I think the writing every day thing is another of those bits of advice for beginners that gets taken to the extreme: one MUST write every day or there’ll be doom, doomity, doom and the world will end!
If I have a project that needs to get done, I do write most days so that I don’t lose momentum and, let’s face it, if you don’t actually write the thing, the thing won’t get written. If I don’t have a WIP, I’m noodling on something for fun and education or journaling.
It’s a personal thing, Margaret Atwood said she doesn’t write every day because she has a life, she has kids, she has responsibilities. Stephen King wrote in his book that to get good you need to write every day (daily practice of anything you want to learn doesn’t seem unreasonable to me), but later in an interview he said that was just one of those things writers say to get interviewers to move on to more substantive topics. As with everything, you have to find what works for you.

Aug-15 at 18:54

Vidyut

I feel left out. I’m like… um. I don’t have a single stuck story. I have no conditions I need, no requirements other than laptop, no pets, no music, nothing. I’m the idiot who will open the document and start typing. It feels… ordinary.

My delays are usually because of other demands on time. I write in phases. If I decide to write, writing will happen.

My stuck is different. I have a scene I think I’ve finally got right - on the 15th try in a year and a half. I wasn’t getting it right, so I wrote it a new way, edited it, polished it, wrote it a still new way… and so on. I failed to get the effect I wanted 14 times - different takes. But I wrote 15. So hopefully the latest version sticks. If it doesn’t, I have zero doubt I’ll find a new angle and try 16.

So I guess there’s writing and there’s writing well…

Aug-16 at 12:14

Kailynray

I haven’t written today…yet.
So says the positive mindset on this.

Reality?

I live an hour away from work.
I work 9 hours M-F at the school.
Well, schools this year. So I have twice the students and half the time to teach them.
My 90 year old Mom is in an assisted living community.
If I visit, that adds another hour or two.
If I don’t she has a hard time remembering who I am when I go back. I could be her daughter, her sister, her best friend from high school…one never knows.
As we talk, she remembers who I am, and cries when I leave.
Then there is dinner and making sure my disabled husband has eaten and taken his medicines
.
And grading and prepping - which I do even less than writing, because I am burning out after covid teaching.
Then there is the complete exhaustion, not only from my life, but from Covid, which I caught taking my mom to the doctor a few weeks ago.
No real symptoms until after I was officially well. Now life stinks with them.
I love writing, I always have, but it is last on the list.
I just noticed if you relax your eyes out of focus the center of the keyboard says ‘TRY’ instead of RTY.
Maybe my life isn’t out of focus enough.

Aug-16 at 17:16

Timark

Because I wrote 6,000 words in the past 3 days.

2500 of them pretty good

the rest is a chapter for a new novel that i started without any preconceived ideas or plot or character. So it needs work.

Aug-16 at 17:19

Ignis

Am I the only one that hopes there’s an evolutionary advantage to procrastination?

Aug-17 at 06:19

Timark

I wrote the start of something today. I dont know what kind of monster it is as of yet, though.

I am procrastinating my wip. By starting other projects.

Aug-17 at 06:22

Kittykat93

I like this a lot but I don’t think I could ever write every day consistently. Well I guess in a sense I write every day, but it’s because I am a graduate student and so I have to write comments in discussion boards and essays and papers and reports every day and because that can take up so much mental time and energy (on top of actually going to lab meetings and classes and working part time jobs) I don’t have the energy to write in my fiction work all the time. So I write when I need the enjoyment of creating and a break of long dry writings I do for grad school. I do my grad school work when I feel the need to procrastinate on my creative writing and creative writing when I need to procrastinate on my grad school work. I love both, but they stimulate different parts of me as a person and I need a balance of both.

Aug-17 at 07:14

Flicka

If I don’t write every day I get withdrawal symptoms. I itch to write, to be at my keyboard and tapping away on the keys. I think I’m helped by being ASD as that helps me focus on one thing at a time to the exclusion of all others (my husband gets fed up). I do intersperse my writing day with checking facebook or my emails, and I might do a crit or two and at the moment I’m also editing a book for someone for actual money, so my 9 hour day (8 till 5 on average) won’t be solid writing the whole day long. I find breaking it up a bit really helps me to get a lot done. Oh, and I forgot every so often I’ll do a bit of research and get side tracked down a rabbit hole. So I’m touching wood here and saying I’ve never had writers’ block so far.

I’d say, if you get blocked, do something else to do with writing for a bit - crit, read, research - I think all those help me keep on track and focused.

Aug-17 at 07:57

Devadoss

I agree. And I have a weird take on ‘write every day.’ Nearly always, I’m next to a crystal blue Italian stream, knocking down a bottle of Chianti while knocking out fifteen thousand words of swagalicious prose on my 1926 Underwood Standard Portable. Once in a while–not too often, I’m hunched over my Chromebook spitting venom at four sentences I’ve rewritten a thousand times while the landscaping crew throttle their gas-powered leaf blowers by my window for five–straight–hours.

So, I interpret ‘write every day’ as meaning I gotta show up on the bad days as well as the good days–but union rules allow a day off here and there.

Aug-17 at 22:35

Shylockv

go extinct faster?

Aug-17 at 23:37

Trevose

Drove 600 miles today.

Though I did no writing, being on the highway with music on helps me think about writing and problems I’m trying to solve. One needed tweak to a scene became apparent while on some backroads in eastern Oklahoma while listening to Peter Gabriel’s 4th solo album.

Aug-18 at 03:42

Trishn

I’m glad i came across this. Some days are easy and other days are stressful. I don’t write everyday but ideas always come to mind. Where to start also stresses me out. I’m just glad i know i’m not the only one who doesn’t write everyday.

Aug-19 at 17:48
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