Write every day.
We hear it all the time, and it’s great advice. It’s important to turn writing into a habit so that it comes naturally to us and we have time set aside for it. But there’s one danger of this mantra being pushed so hard, and it’s one I’ve lived.
What if there’s a day when you can’t write? I’m not talking about writer’s block here – in that case, you should certainly still write. I’m not even talking about days you don’t feel like writing. I mean when you’re in the thick of it. When you’re doing so much every single day that you have no energy left. When you’re emotionally exhausted. The problem isn’t that you don’t want to write – you either don’t have time to carve out or are just too downright exhausted.
Sometimes this is just a hard day, other times it’s a whole season of hardship. When these days come and it’s impossible to live by the “write every day” mantra, we feel guilty. Not only have we let ourselves down, but we haven’t lived up to the perfect standard that all the great writers of our day have set for us. It feels like we’ve failed.
When life is hard, the last thing you need is to have another burden like this set on your shoulders. You already have enough to deal with. And while yes, there’s a fine line between laziness and allowing yourself to rest – a line that only you can define for yourself, I might add – writing is not a perfect journey. Neither is life. As the saying goes, the one thing you can count on is that things will not go to plan. Doesn’t matter if you’re a pantser or a plotter, rich or poor, young or old. Life always throws us for a loop at some point or another.
I’ve faced many of these crazy times in my life already, but none quite so harrowing as the past few months. I woke up bright and early on New Year’s Day 2023 with a splitting headache and sinuses that felt like they were going to explode, and it all went downhill from there. Crisis after crisis reared its head until I stopped being surprised come the middle of February. As someone who started the year full of hope and determination, it was like getting hit in the face with a brick. That lovely, well-thought-out month-by-month plan I drafted at the end of last year? Thrown out the window. My goals? All pushed back. As much as I advise not beating yourself up about stuff like this in just about every single blog post, I definitely threw some metaphorical punches at myself. Every day that I couldn’t pick up Convergence, I lamented how much longer it was going to take to get published. As I crawled into bed each day exhausted and disappointed, I asked myself again and again why I wasn’t strong enough to do it all.
In the midst of all of this, my body decided not to cooperate with me either. It’s never been the strongest – with weak ankles and wrists, random feet problems for no reason, and Hashimoto’s disease to boot – but things were really acting up. My bloodwork didn’t come back great, my feet were hurting, my eyes were dry all the time, and my knee decided to join in and start acting up, too. But one day, when I was mentally complaining about literally everything going wrong, I realised something important.
I’m not strong enough. And that’s okay.
For me, the most important thing I recognised during this time was that I’m not in control – God is, and his timing is better than mine. I simply can’t put my faith in goals, dreams, or plans because they’ll always be disappointed at some point. I can draft monthly goal charts all the livelong day, but things won’t always happen when I want them to. That’s when I learned the second most important lesson: adapting. If you’re walking across a plain and suddenly reach a mountain, you can’t keep walking straight. When crazy life stuff gets thrown your way, you can’t keep doing things the same you always have been. You can’t just use all of your strength to try to push the mountain, either, because you’re not going to budge it. You have to learn a different way to move forward. Many times, yes, it means working harder (it’s a mountain, remember?). But that also means you need more time to rest and recharge so you can save your strength.
For me, this meant majorly cutting back on my writing time. I was still able to incorporate my blog posts into my daily work schedule, but my personal projects came to a standstill for a time. Paid work, household chores, time with my husband, and personal quiet time had to come first in order for me and my life to function. Once I accepted that my writing was only put on pause for a little while – the mountain can’t go on forever, you know – I stopped being ashamed of myself and moved forward instead. Whenever I had time to write, I did, but I stopped grieving the fact that I couldn’t write every day, and my mindset was better for it.
Because I also learned something else during this time: you’re not doing nothing when you’re struggling. You’re learning. You’re growing. You’re writing your story. Every protagonist has to overcome obstacles, and the victories help them to achieve even greater things later on. Your story is important right now, no matter what situation you’re in. So accept it. Stop pushing against the mountain and start climbing. Adapt.
Here are a few things that helped me:
- Write when you can. If you see a moment, grab it – and don’t let anything take it away from you!
- Jot down some thoughts and feelings about your current experiences. Your situation can turn into an opportunity to help someone else or remind yourself of what you overcame in the future. It may even be great story fuel one day! If you don’t like journaling, no problem – I don’t either (believe it or not). You can check out these tips, write a blog post, or even draft a fictional story instead.
- When things get back to normal (or some semblance of it), start slow. Don’t try to immediately go back to your 5,000 words a day that you were doing before. Start with a little and increase gradually.
- Give yourself grace. Feelings of guilt and shame hinder creative thinking. Let go, accept that hard times will come, and keep on writing.
Remember: writing isn’t more important than your well-being. It doesn’t determine your worth, either! Sometimes, we just need a rest, break, or change of pace, and that’s okay. Have hope. I may not be strong, but God most certainly is. And that’s something I can always rely on.
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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.Donate
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