Have you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad writing day? And does that make you feel like a crummy wordsmith? Today’s newsletter is designed to put your bad days into some sort of perspective.
I opened the freezer door and a sea of green goo puddled towards me. What on earth was this stuff?
Turns out it wasn’t pond sludge or paint, it was my kids’ favourite ice cream — mint chocolate chip. And it had oozed down to the bottom of the freezer because it had melted. This was a result of the freezer’s death, right alongside its guilty partner, the dead fridge nestled below.
Under normal circumstances, I’d have uttered a few curse words and called a repair person. But our situation was anything but normal. We’d just moved into a rental house — a move made necessary by plans to renovate our own home. And since we didn’t actually own the freezer/fridge, I couldn’t do anything except call the landlord.
Day three of our move was not shaping up to be a great one.
What’s more, the dead fridge was not our only problem. The rental house was too cold — you practically needed long underwear to survive the family room. The kitchen was too small — more suited to a family of two who ate out a lot rather than our family of five who mostly eats in. And the movers (who moved only furniture — we heroically and cheaply did most of the boxes ourselves) had managed to take a chunk out of my pine armoire.
In short, everything sucked.
Do you ever feel that way when you’re writing? You stare at the computer monitor, not knowing what to say. Every sentence you write is tedious and dull. You overuse the verb “to be.” You go crazy with audacious adjectives and you use adverbs disadvantageously. (Aside: that last sentence was a joke.)
Or perhaps, worse, you don’t write at all and you do other things but you don’t do them well or with any particular joy because you feel guilty . . . for not writing.
In other words, your writing life sucks. So what’s a person to do? Give up? Sorry, no!
We all need to recognize that not every writing day is going to be a winner. After all, athletes are familiar with “poor performance” days, and recognize that this doesn’t, by definition, make them poor athletes. Most chefs have baked cakes that have fallen flat or produced main courses that were less than stellar — but that doesn’t make them any less cooking savvy. Movers have terrible moving days. And so it is with writers. Some days are always going to be better than others. Don’t let your inexperience or some bad luck define you.
You are a writer because you are a person who chooses to put words on paper. If you judge yourself too harshly that judgment will simply make the wonderful, creative part of your brain — the part that writes — want to hide.
Remember: things go wrong; it happens all the time. But in the end, life usually sorts itself out. With writing, we all improve with practice and a measure of calm.
As for my move, we settled in fairly quickly. I told my landlords we hadn’t managed to sell the much-loved fridge in our own house, so they could take it for the cost of moving it to us. We bought an inexpensive space heater for the family room. We decided to eat only in the dining room and turned our kitchen table into a work surface. And I’ve concluded my armoire looks more antique with a few dings and scrapes.
Stuff happens. Get over it. Keep writing.