Getting Past “Zero” Days


Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

One of the things I have been working on this year is recognizing and celebrating all the successes I have had in my writing, no matter how small they might seem. I know many of us writers like to be very critical of ourselves when we reflect on the amount of time we spend on our work or the quality of the writing we produce. I am continuously making an active effort to be less judgmental towards myself and my writing, but it isn’t always easy.

For example, yesterday, I spent a good hour staring at a blank blog post. I started a few different topics but after realizing those ideas weren’t working for me at the time, I saved each only as a draft and didn’t publish anything by the end of the day. I tried turning towards a short story hoping to write creatively but ended up feeling equally uninspired. Eventually, I went to sleep that night feeling unaccomplished and irritated with myself. Awakening this morning, my mind immediately revisited that feeling of failure, and I dreaded the thought of trying to produce something positive from that negativity I’d kept with me all night.

In the past, I would have let that one “bad” writing day dictate my mood the rest of the week. I would have avoided even attempting to write any more for the next few days since I didn’t want to have to face that perceived failure, but I have learned to put that mindset behind me. One of the mantras I now keep in the forefront of my mind is that writers write. We may not always write our best or what we feel is satisfactory work, but by definition, writers write. That, we can all agree on.

So today, instead of continuing to be stuck on that one Zero day, I made a choice to be grateful for having the time yesterday to sift through so many “failed” topics. In doing so, I am closer to discovering those viable ideas which will develop into longer works I can feel happy with.

I can also be grateful for the writing accomplishments I have had over the course of this entire week. Monday night I finished reading The Haunting of Hill House and Wednesday, I wrote and published a review of it. Thursday, I finished editing a short story of my own and then submitted it to multiple online publications. I continued submitting it on Friday and also posted another blog post.

Focusing on these accomplishments helps me to regain my perspective after a few hours of negativity. No, one day of not writing doesn’t mean I am a total failure. It means I did have an off day but I have also had a lot more “on” days. As long that pattern continues, I like to think I am doing pretty well, all in all.

Keeping track of my writing progress through a system like a bullet journal has also been helpful for me, especially when it comes to getting past Zero days. I like to use a writing tracker like this one. In fact, I use one very similar in my own bullet journal except I turn it into a bar graph as a personal preference, and mine isn’t just for Nanowrimo but for each month of the year.

As I start seriously thinking about my writing goals for 2019, continuing to accept the fluctuations in my writing process while maintaining enough self-discipline to meet my personal targets remains high on my priorities. It is a tough balance to manage especially while trying to succeed in the midst of all of life’s other stresses, but I am hopeful. Taking the time to remember how far I have come in 2018 makes me excited to find out what lies ahead in the next twelve months!

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