In general, my writing days fall into three broad categories, which are defined by how quickly and easily I can get to my 2,000-word daily goal. Each day, of course, brings its own rewards and challenges, sometimes heavy on the challenge part. I’m sure the three writing days I most commonly experience will look familiar to many of you.
1) The “Holy shit, the GODS are speaking through me!” day. (10%)
Time to completion of daily goal: 2-4 hours
These are the days when I wake up, sit down in front of the computer, and pound out my 2,000 words like some benevolent deity of literary inspiration is dictating directly into my brain. Those days are fucking awesome, and I usually blow past my goal without even noticing I’ve hit it. These are the days when writing isn’t work; it’s fun.
By the way, if you need this kind of day to get anything done, you’ll, uh, never get anything done. They are the product of some arcane mixture of caffeine, adequate rest, astral alignment, and magic fairy dust. They are beyond the ken of mortal man, so, in other words, you can’t rely on them.
2) The “Hey, this is just like a job and stuff” day. (80%)
Time to completion of daily goal: 4-8 hours
My typical writing day looks like this: I wake up, drink my coffee, and wait for the caffeine buzz to move my ass from couch to desk. Then I read what I wrote the day before and think, “Hey, this isn’t total shit,” which motivates me to pick up where I left off with something like hopeful trepidation. The first five hundred words come slowly (this totally has nothing to do with the fact that I might still be fucking around on the internet), and then I get into my groove, and the rest comes along without too much fuss.
I’d bet my typical day isn’t much different than most writers. We’ve all got a system, and these days are examples of that system working, more or less. These are the days to expect. They’re reliable and productive and get you to your deadlines on time without too much emotional trauma along the way.
3) The “Somebody please kill me so I don’t have to write these stupid words” day. (10%)
Time to completion of daily goal: Eons hence, when the sun dies, and this universe collapses into the timeless void.
These are the days where I have to pull each word kicking and screaming from my brain, wrestle them onto the page, and then hold them at gun point to make sure they don’t escape. I might sit at my computer for nine, ten, even twelve hours before I finally type that 2,000th word.
For me, these tough days are a draining mixture of self-doubt, lack of rest, and sometimes good ol’ fashioned fear at having to writer a scene that’s outside my experience or comfort zone. They suck, but, luckily, they’re just as (un)common as the first type of day, so it all balances out.
So what do these three days have in common? Just one thing, really; they almost always result in at least 2,000 words of raw material. I try not to leave my computer until I hit that mark, no matter how miserable I am. I won’t lie; I don’t succeed every time. That third type of day can be a real bastard, and it sometimes gets the better of me, but the other two put me far enough ahead of schedule I can weather the less productive days and still hit my deadlines.
What do your writing days look like? I’d love to hear about your best and worst in the comments.