This summer, I’m running a challenge on WriYe that I’ve mentioned a few times here called Write Like a Pro, where we adopt a different professional author’s ideal writing routine for a week at a time. While discussing the way the challenge is progressing, K. A. Wyles spurred us to wonder what some of these authors did if they missed a day. Everyone has days where they wake up sick or sleep through their alarms or the world crashes down around them. Part of becoming a professional author (unfortunately) doesn’t make one immune to disaster and everyone has a bad day from time to time. So… what do the pros do to recover from that? Well, we don’t know (and probably never will) because people don’t talk about that — maybe because that would also mean talking about the negative / bad things — which led us to deciding that we needed to talk about how we recover from bad days.
This is a very appropriately timed post for me because not only did I realize my Day Job picked back up this week instead of next week like I thought, but I also got some bad / stressful news over the weekend, and then… I woke up sick on Sunday morning. Triple whammy all in one weekend! I decided not to let that hold me back or put a damper on my progress, however. These are the some of the ways I typically push myself through to get back on my feet again.
1. Take time off to just be upset: This isn’t to say you should throw yourself a pity party or write a vague post on Twitter / Facebook trying to get people to feel sorry for you or celebrate how badly you suck or anything like that. Simply take a step back and admit that things aren’t going your way. Just let yourself feel whatever the bad feeling is and experience it in whatever way it’s manifesting. If you’re sad, cry it out. If you’re sick, take a nap on the couch for a little while. If you’re angry, rant / yell about things to someone who won’t judge you (like your dog or your pillow). And then — if it’s a problem that can be fixed… Fix it. And you’ll be able to do so without your mind being clouded with the initial emotion.
2. Pamper Yourself: This one is pretty simple: just spend some time treating yourself well. Take a long walk or toss a bath bomb in the bath and take a steamy bubble bath. Put on a silly face mask and order some junk food. I know part of my personal routine for this is to completely disconnect also. I close my email and social media, turn off the chat services and put my cell phone on “Do Not Disturb” so I can really focus on me, rather than the buzz happening around me all the time. I also will take days like this to spend hours playing video games (or if you’re a movie / TV show watcher — binging a show on Netflix would also fit in well here).
3. Be Rational / Make Plans: I’m the kind of person that has had a bucket list since I was about 10-years-old; I’ve had a running 1,001 Things to do in 101 Days list since 2005 or so. Ask me at any point in time where I want to be in 3, 5, or 10 years and I’ll give you a full outline, down to a disgusting amount of detail (if you’ll let me). I constantly am revisiting these plans and revising them to best fit whatever changes happen in my life, of course, and I find a set back happening is usually the best time to do so. Obviously, if you’ve just caught a cold or whatever, don’t rethink your whole life, but if whatever’s setting you back is large / catastrophic, it’s a great time to sit down and figure out how to get back on track. For me, sitting down and just thinking about things in a logical manner helps me feel more in control and like things aren’t as bad as my brain was probably originally thinking it was. Sometimes this just means sitting down and going, “okay, I was supposed to do two hours of editing today and did none. There’s 4 days left in the week, so +30 minutes to each of those days.” Sometimes it means looking at the to-do lists for the weekend and going, “well, I guess I can binge watch that TV show next week instead.” Sometimes it means skipping gaming for the week or catching up on sports game highlight reels to better utilize your leisure time for work… Whatever it is that helps your brain click those pieces back in place logically is what helps maintain routines (which is, ideally, what this post is about).
4. Pick up and Keep Going: Be it in life or in writing, you have to keep moving forward. So yes, definitely take the time needed to rest and repair… But then just start working on your goals again. With writing especially, if you take too much time off, it’s so easy to just sit back and never touch it again. And then you have half-finished novels that no one will ever get to experience. So, take your day off and then the next morning, sit down and put pen to paper once again.
What did this look like for me personally? Taking a few days off of social media / the internet and enjoying a few hours of being lazy… And then setting some pretty intense goals for this week — 8 hours of Day Job, 5k fiction, 2 hours editing, and 2-3 hours in my publishing course daily. It’s going to be a busy week, but that’s what I’ve signed up for, since I enjoy my quality of life, my job, and being an independent adult! Plus, there’s something to be said for getting back to a routine after having one of these fail days. It feels fresh and new, but also strangely comfortable and like going home.