Today is Monday. I am supposed to get a new blog post published every Monday.

I was not in the mood to do anything today. I felt very nearly trapped in the event horizon of my usually-well-controlled depression.

Here is how it went.

Would I like to do a final edit to one of my stash of nearly finished blog posts?

Nah. I hated all of them.

Should I verify that appointment with my accountant?

Ugh, no. I’d have to find out if my Quick Books license would allow me to load it onto my laptop as well as my PC first.

How about learning to use Patreon better?

Nrgk. That seemed impenetrable today.

Anything that required effort was getting vetoed.

What I really wanted to do was escape into the sweet embrace of AO3, my own personal field of metaphorical poppies, followed by a nap for the rest of the week day.

This song sums it up as long as you ignore the perky video (seriously, why?)

However.

I had committed to having a new post on Novel Narrative every week unless I had been swept away by the momentum of a fictional work-in-progress. This was not the case today. I knew if I let myself have a pass, I would feel even worse. That’s just how I roll, despite years of therapy.

So, full of sighs, and with dragging feet, I pushed through with this post. Here is how I attempted to reach escape velocity and get something posted today.

Got Out of the House and Connected with People

First, I grabbed a coffee from my favorite roaster. Both the caffeine and chatting with the kind folks who work there made positive deposits into my overdrawn emotional bank account.

Then, I went to the best vegetable stand in the city to visit the character who runs it. Because it was a rainy weekday afternoon, it was just the two of us, and we played around with taking pictures of him with my business card. Doing something fun further perked me up.

Doug at the Lunkin Airport Farmer’s Market / Photo by Amy Short

Forced Myself to Be Productive

Feeling a bit better, I came home and pulled up a draft post about turning your blog into an LLC and attempted to make myself finalize it. Suck it up and all of that.

Well.

It turned out that hating all of my blog post drafts hadn’t been fixed by a caffeinated romp at the farmer’s market. I was tipping back towards just giving up for the day again, and feeling bad about it.

This one was an epic fail. Do not try this at home.

Was Kind to Myself

Then, I remembered something important.

When I managed people who were not motivated, I coached them to shift to working on a deliverable that they both enjoyed and matched the energy they had to give.

Since I am my own manager now, I should be just as kind and encouraging to myself. (It’s amazing how hard that can be.)

So, sheepishly, I followed my own advice and took finalizing a draft of a pre-written blog post off the table.

Followed My Muse

I opened up a blank document and told myself I could write whatever I wanted for the blog post today. I was thinking about maybe sketching out the details of a new character or doing a fast-write. Something creative.

As I was writing the opening frame about why I was going a bit off-piste today, I changed my mind. I found myself wanting to talk about the process of overcoming a poor mood to be able to keep writing.

I allowed myself to do that and soon felt something that was ratcheted too tight in my head start to loosen. This made it possible for some forward progress.

Accepted that Today Was Just Not a Good Day

I talked down the type-A commentator in the back of my head who still wanted updates on our mile-long to-do list. For me, this sort of positive self-talk is a fake-it-till-you-make-it exercise as that taskmistress is quite pushy.

That said, I repeatedly told myself that whatever I was able to accomplish today would be enough. I think we as a culture undervalue the cumulative value of small, iterative efforts. It takes every grain of sand to fill the hourglass. I believe that not giving up, and being stubbornly persistent with little efforts, can get you further than any innate genius or death-defying struggle.

I did not like this whiteboard at my gym AT ALL / Photo by Amy Short

Final Thoughts

I was able to meet my goal of updating the blog today!

Even better, I  ended up quite liking this piece because I imagine every single one of us has bad writing days for all kinds of reasons. I would like to think that the strategies that worked for me today would be helpful for you to consider during one of your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  

But just like with clothing, one size doesn’t fit all. Some people are helped by pushing through a funk, while some do better by taking the day off. There are days that depression wins, no matter what. There is no right or wrong way to approach being a writer or to work through our moods. I only know what helps me, and I am happy to share my experience.

And how did I feel after all of this?

Hopeful.

I made it through a crummy day and felt a little bit better because I pushed through and met my goal. Tomorrow I try again.

Countryside sunset
Dawn /Photo by Jordan McQueen / Unsplash

How do you work through a bad writing day?

Let’s discuss it in the comments below!