The Peaks and Valleys of the Writing Life--What Brings You Down? What Buoys You Up?

I find more often than ever, my life is marked by peaks and valleys. I would like to say that I'm a steady worker, one who rarely gets discouraged and simply plugs away no matter the circumstances.

That would be a lie. 

I am absolutely like most other people in the world: affected by life's circumstances. 

The thing is, I'm one of those lucky few writers who doesn't work. I don't have a day job. I don't freelance, I don't have deadlines. I'm one of those lucky aspiring writers who has all day to write. So why don't I?

Some days, I do spend the majority of my day pounding away on the keyboard. But to be honest, most days I don't. I do attempt to write every day--and if I don't, I feel guilty. But some days, I am my own worst enemy. There are inexplicable days where I want to burn all my WIPs and say "good riddance" to them forever. Those are the days where my perfectionist streak really grabs ahold of me and controls my writing life. Then there are other days where I think I know exactly what is happening in my WIP and I can't wait to get to my laptop and fill the white space with words that I'm certain are magical.

This week, I knew I had to prepare a blog for today. I procrastinated both days until last night, when I said, "I'll just do it in the morning." This morning, I had no brilliant stroke of inspiration. I had no desire to write a blog post. This, I tell myself, is why I do not freelance. Too much pressure to be brilliant. And when you're a struggling perfectionist, how can you constantly deliver brilliance? (And let's be honest--a perfectionist doesn't want mere brilliance, but glistening perfection.)

But this day has led me to think what it is about certain days and circumstances that buoy me up and tug me down. 

overwhelming/overlarge goals
unattainable goals (in regards to how much I can do by a certain time or how good I expect my work to be without thinking of my limitations, whether time or talent or knowledge)
unrealistic expectations (and disappointment when I fail)
bad critiques and arrogant critiquers
bad habits

a good critique
having a stroke of brilliance that I think will solve all my plot problems
reading a well written book
my husband's confidence in me (however ill-placed)
solitude and silence
small, attainable goals
attaining said goals
daily writing
new writing software
new writing friends
reading encouraging Twitter posts from writers with my same struggles

None of these uppers are a magic bullet for overcoming distraction and getting my writing done. No, there's no easy path to self-discipline. But on a day like this, I choose to focus on the positive, on the peaks, instead of on the valleys. And that can refocus my mind onto something worth pursuing, instead of giving me a lifetime of regrets.


So what about you? What creates a good writing day for you? What makes it a bad writing day?

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